Written for Epigram
My meeting with Ardyn twins Katy and Rob is one of firsts. “This is our first proper tour”, says Katy, with a twinkle of excitement; her brother nods in agreement. For me, it is my first time interviewing a band. But as we talk on sofas in a dressing room in Bristol’s Motion, an instant warmth spills out from the siblings – it feels less like an interview and more like a chat with friends.
On stage, their closeness is palpable; it is there in their glances and nods, all they need to communicate in between songs. Whilst they usually play with a band, it’s just the two of them on the road for their support slot on Wild Beasts’ current tour. Their sound is at no loss though; they more than hold the attention of those early enough to catch them with their enigmatic folk-pop. Performing ahead of other support act Money and the headliners, they play surrounded by the other bands’ kit. But this scene doesn’t dwarf them, rather it’s a nod to what’s to come when they set out with their band on their own headline tour in November.
Ardyn’s set comprises of tracks from their two EPs; their most recent, The Valley, is born out of nostalgia and a love for the countryside, as “all the songs on it were kind of subconscious reactions to things in the past… Inspiration for this EP was reconnecting with nature, because we’d been in the city a lot, we’d been in London and it was kind of looking at how a lot of people these days definitely have lost their connection with nature. It’s kind of like finding your childlike innocence again and, oh it sounds so cliché – going back into the wild. We’re from a really small like countryside town so I think for us it was something to really celebrate, because I think some artists often say they’re from the city or they’re from London because they feel that makes them more credible. But to celebrate being from a small village is always a good start.”
Rob muses on the influence nature has had on their work for a moment, and adds “we’ve been very lucky to have a very beautiful childhood in an amazing place, I think a lot of our songs have spurred from our growing up and the beautiful surroundings”. In the video for EP title track ‘The Valley’, Ardyn’s appreciation for such beautiful surroundings is unequivocally clear. Filmed in gloriously atmospheric Dartmoor, a place where the siblings enjoyed childhood holidays, and only half an hour away from where the song itself was written, they spent the first day on set almost “getting sea sick in the RV because it was so windy”. But despite the gale force winds, you can tell that making the video was a labour of love; it is the perfect accompaniment to the track’s wonderfully haunting build-up.
Ardyn rightfully pay attention to the aesthetic value of things – art student Katy is fervent that “the music and the art goes hand in hand”. There could be no better time, then, for such a band to be making music than now, with the recent resurgence of vinyl. Indeed, the return of the physical format excites them, and is another incentive to keep writing; “seeing it on iTunes is still amazing but to hold a physical copy of emotional toil is really good to have, I think it makes us even more motivated”.
Music seems to have been as integral to the twins’ upbringing as nature. Laughing, they tell me with a half ironic smirk that their first gig was S Club in Birmingham. Katy continues “my dad just played locally in a band and my mum sang. In our garage, my dad used to have band rehearsals with his mates on the weekends and we’d usually go in there afterwards and just play on the instruments so we were never like ‘ah we want to be musicians’, it was such a natural thing. We’ve been so lucky just to have no pressure, our dad brought us up on the classics of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Joni Mitchell, so we had a good starting base of how a song could be written, we’ve been lucky”.
With their first musical forays being at home, it seems only natural that the reason Ardyn are looking forward to stopping off at Bristol’s Louisiana on their own tour so much is because “it’s just like a sitting room, it’s just such a homely environment, it’s so small and it’s just really nice, it’s such a lovely place to play”.
So what can be expected when the duo next return to the city on November 18th? More of what was seen at Motion would be more than enough, but I’m promised that with a full band there “will be a bigger sound, a bit more bite”, and I can’t wait.