Meet The Band: Fara

Scottish folk band Fara will play Abergavenny Borough Theatre on February 10 in support of their latest album, Cross The Line. Consisting of Jennifer Austin, Kristan Harvey, Jeana Leslie and Catriona Price’s three fiddles and a piano, Fara produce a fiery sound rooted strongly in their upbringing among the music of the Orkney Islands.

Andy Howells recently put questions to Jeana Leslie from the band.

How did Fara come together as a group?
The idea for the band came after several appearances as “The Chairettes”, The Chair’s backing band. At one gig, the girls were put on stage to play a couple of sets on their own, and Bob Gibbon, The Chair’s Accordionist and Orkney Folk Festival director, suggested they form a new band. To the Chair’s disappointment they decided to lose the name, and Fara was born.

Who or what influences your sound?
Our Orcadian up bring! We all have a love for Orkney. Orkney’s music is lesser known than the likes of the Shetland Isles but it still has a great style, with quite a driving swing to it. We appreciate our tradition and the opportunities we have been given growing up in a small community and being able to mix with all ages of musicians on the island. There is a real sense of community that is still very strong at home and I think it is the friendships that are forged through playing music together – whatever age you are – that makes growing up in Orkney the strongest bond we have. All of our different education and experiences in different musical spheres have also greatly helped.

How would you describe your journey as a band so far up to recording your debut album?
Flipping Fun!

Can you tell us about your debut album?
It is a combination of self-penned, traditional Orkney tunes and ones that we all just enjoy playing together.

For first time listeners, which track best defines you as a group now and why?
Shapinsay Polka – because it is an Orkney set of tunes, with lots of harmony and then we blast into a reel at the end of it. It is an amalgamation of some of our favourite things!

You’re heading out on tour what can people expect from your shows?
With vibrant arrangements, full of rich harmonies, energetic fiddle playing and driving piano, Fara’s show is sure to be an exciting one. With a mixture of self-penned and traditional Orkney tunes as well as stunning vocals, the girls combined musical experiences and friendships produce an exciting and individual sound.

Are you looking forward to playing Wales?
As a band, it will be our first time playing down in the South of Wales and we are looking forward to it. We plan to have some time off too to explore and maybe go on a pony-trek on the beach at Ogmore-by-Sea.

What’s been your best live experience so far?
I don’t think we can pick out a ‘best one’. We always enjoy our gigs but I must say the ones where we go off on tangents and start telling stories and having a right laugh has to be the gigs that we get a good vibe and feel most comfortable with the audience. They are certainly great fun!

What else can we expect from Fara in 2017?
4 brand new spanking phones! We got robbed at our last gig so.. on a plus note we will all be getting new phones this year!

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