One of the most exciting acts on the contemporary folk scene today; Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow are accomplished interpreters of everything from Massive Attack to traditional Irish ballads, but it’s their own boundless songwriting and exquisite harmonies that truly shine.
Following the release of their widely acclaimed third album The Hum, the duo received a personal invitation from Billy Bragg to perform at last year’s Glastonbury Festival. They have the originality and skill to invite comparison with the folk scene’s most celebrated North American harmony duos, from early Simon and Garfunkel to the iconic Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Lyrically and musically, Belinda and Heidi’s powerful, deeply moving, and at times spine-tingling performances are infused with an honesty and empathy that will disarm even the hardest of heart.
The pair recently took time out to answer questions poised by Andy Howells
Its a year since you were touring with The Hum, did you get a good response while out on tour?
Yes, we think it’s been the best response yet of all three albums. Our Bristol Folkhouse gig in particular was a highlight with a great audience. It was a very warm and emotional evening. People seem to have clutched The Hum and us to their bosoms!
Were there any particular highlights at the gigs?
The new material has been very well received, in particular Two Mothers which is our ballad about the controversial child migration scheme. It is a bit of a tear jerker. In contrast, probably the most joyful song we’ve ever written, Summat’s Brewin’ about our love of real ale has seen the country singing along loudly and heartily.
You’re back in Bristol next week, what can we expect from O Hooley and Tidow this time?
We’re returning to the Folk House on Friday 6th March for one of three concerts across the UK celebrating International Women’s Day. We are joined by BBC Radio 2 Folk Award finalists Lady Maisery and the irrepressible Leicester songwriter Grace Petrie. As well as singing our own material, there will be plenty of collaboration with the other performers and hopefully raising lots of money for local women’s charities.
Are there any Welsh dates forthcoming?
There are indeed. We love playing in Wales and return to Machynlleth Y Tabernacl on Saturday 18th April, then our first visit to Anglesey with a concert at Menai Bridge’s Victoria Hotel on Sunday 19th April. In the summer, we’ve been asked back for the second year running to headline Trelawynd’s Folk at the Hall on the Saturday afternoon of 11th July. There’s an announcement coming soon for the Autumn…
What about any new recordings?
We are currently writing album number four to be released in Feb 2016. We’re already really excited about it.
What’s inspiring you both at the moment and are there any particular albums or artists you’re enjoying listening to?
The people and the landscape of where we live in the Colne Valley area of Huddersfield is a constant source of inspiration. Wildlife, the human condition and love in all its permutations, outsiders, masks, oppression are recurring themes in our music. We’ve actually been listening to a fair bit of dance music because of the fitness classes we do at our local leisure centre…
What was the first record you bought and why?
Heidi bought ‘I Wish I Could Fly’ by Orville because it was the cutest thing she’d ever heard.
Belinda bought ‘Arrival’ by Abba because it made her fingers tingle.