Woman's Hour: Imperfectly Perfect - Interview with Fiona Jane and Will Burgess | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Woman’s Hour

Imperfectly Perfect

Jan 29, 2014 Issue #48 - November/December 2013 - HAIM
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It’s traditional to start the story of any band featuring a set of siblings with tales of family sing-alongs, impressive parental record collections, and mandatory music lessons. But Woman’s Hour founders Fiona Jane Burgess and Will Burgess swear that there are no such events in their shared timeline. (“Our parents probably regret now giving me a guitar for the first time,” Will jokes.) In fact, it was only a few years ago that the British musicians realized collaboration was a possibility. Currently finishing up a degree in theater at King’s College London, Fiona says that growing up, she viewed music as more of Will’s purview. Initially, the offer to contribute vocals to her brother’s budding musical project was extended on a whim.

“He had never heard me,” she recalls. “It wasn’t something that I had ever done.”

“Honestly, that’s why it took a long time!” Will admits. “She wanted to sing and I wasn’t sure.”

Will was ultimately coerced by his younger sister into bringing his guitar over to her apartment one night for a trial run. There, he was immediately struck by her girlish, straightforward soprano. Slowly, the two began building a partnership. Along the way, they added additional band members, school friends Josh Hunnisett and Nicolas Graves.

Originally aiming to become a jangle-pop outfit (Will pauses before admitting that their initial sound could be classified as goofy), the band’s direction was dramatically changed when they wrote “Our Love Has No Rhythm.” A floaty piece of abstract pop where Fiona coos the line “Our love has no rhythm” over a synth drone and drum machine beat, it’s counted as a major step forward by both Burgess siblings.

It was what we were trying to achieve,” says Fiona. “There’s quite a slow groove to it. Our songs before that were all a lot faster. It’s dense and really textural, and kind of poppy, but presented in a different way.”

To date, the band has released a handful of singles (which include a whispery, slowed-down cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”). Like Beach House’s earliest offerings, Woman’s Hour’s music hangs together on a sense of after-hours atmosphere, augmented by sparse instrumentation. Coupled with grayscale covers featuring images lifted from vintage 1950s instruction manuals, the parts fit together to create a sense of fragile melancholy. It’s an assessment that both Fiona and Will endorse.

“I think a lot of our artwork and our sound is about displaying vulnerability,” muses Fiona. “What we’re most interested in is the things that go wrong. The unattractive side of ourselves. I suppose in that sense, that probably is reflected in the melancholy side of things.”

Fiona says the theme of finding beauty in brokenness will carry though to the band’s debut full-length, which they hope to have ready in 2014. She points to recently released single “Darkest Place” as a potential emotional blueprint.

“It’s very much about living with the mistakes that we make,” she says. “Well, maybe not the mistakes, but realizing in a way that you can only change yourself.”

[This article first appeared in Under the Radar’s November/December 2013 issue.]


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