FATEA Records - Interview

September 18, 2017

One of the stand out performances at the Cambridge Folk Festival this year was Peterborough singer/songwriter Kerry Devine. Fatea writer Nic Rigby caught up with her to talk about her distinctive sound and songs.

With a beautifully ethereal voice and songs imbued with her Fenland roots, Kerry Devine very quickly won over the audience playing The Den at the festival.

"It is really special performing at Cambridge. I am a local girl, so have been coming to the folk festival for many years," she said.

"To play, especially The Den, is really cool."

Kerry's distinctive style is partly due to use of varied strange guitar tunings, which has brought comparisons with Joni Mitchell.


"I think over the last couple of years I have developed a style of my own. I have a thing with down tuning the guitar," she said.

"I'll often have four different guitars in different tunings. This is probably frustrating for my band because the pianist is classically trained and he has to work out the song with these weird tunings - which practically speaking is not great.

"The thing is I don't know what the tunings are. I just tune to what I am singing."

She said she was getting one of her guitars set up and asked "Is this DADGAD?" and then we worked out it was some type of C-tuning."

Kerry said she is inspired to write a song "by a hook in my head or someone will say something".

"I am now doing it more professionally. You really, really have to work on the song writing craft. I take this quite seriously now."

She said her new album Away from Mountains was "inspired by the landscape and nostalgia".

"Almost always the words come first," she said. "I used to think of something and write it down and that would be it but now I go back and say: Do I like it that word? Good song writing transcends and takes people to different place, or can make them feel they are in the past."

"A song can come from even a word or sentence or an idea from a friend. I have really interesting friends, they are always inspiring," she added.

The last track on her album is called Closed Roads which is about her grandfather who dementia.

"He had been a very capable man, he built houses and had a large family, and I went to his house and he was eating custard out of a pot," said Kerry.

"And it hit me that he was getting younger and it makes me feel I'm getting older. We are like too ships passing in the night and there was only a small window of time when we could really know each other."

I asked if she had any advice for would-be songwriters and musicians?

"I want people to explore their own distinctive sound," she said."Don't be too influenced by the music you listen too. Find your own style because ultimately the reason the reason we write music is the wanting to connect ourselves with other people."

Nic Rigby @nicrigby1 pics Anna Hester



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