I Know What You Are is the first single from ConChie’s critically-acclaimed debut album, Northumbria. A cinematic eight-song album of interrelated themes and layers, it explores the ways people, places, past histories and previous identities come together in our lives to form present realities and future stories. The band spoke with The Fountain about the track in more depth as well as their tracks still to be released.
TF: You have a new single out, what has the reception been like to I Know What You Are?
Fantastic. The industry standard now is to release a lead-off single and video ahead of the album to try and stir up interest. We, as usual, have gone the other way. Northumbria came out with very little fanfare. As a result, like water, it found its own way through the noise to people. It got fantastic reviews, which we’re really proud of; but it also turned out to mean so much to so many people. In one sense, it’s surprising. In another, it isn’t. 2020 has been the year of lockdown; of individuals, families and communities struggling; of restrictions on life and liberty. It’s also, unfortunately, been the year that reports of abuse have exploded – from people in lockdown with abusive partners to professional high-performance athletes in Team GB sports coming forward and clearly and unequivocally saying ‘This happened to me.’ What’s terrifying is that the safeguarding institutions that are in place to protect us don’t – and when realities that threaten their reason for being come to light, their instinct is to vilify victims and survivors, rubbish them and shout them down. Northumbria isn’t solely about Domestic Abuse and its horrific realities. It is a thread in its tapestry, though. I Know What You Are represents the moment of empowerment; of realisation; that you know what’s going on, and you aren’t going to take it anymore. You’re going to stand and fight; even though you know in doing so they’re going to try and smash you apart and destroy you to protect themselves. It’s only by shining the light, though, that the darkness goes. I don’t believe that endlessly producing and releasing content automatically makes for better, more satisfying musical experiences, but in this case, releasing I Know What You Are and producing the video felt completely right. The response has definitely shown that we did the right thing and it’s helped a lot of people.
TF: How would you sum it up in one sentence?
Written looking out to sea at Lindisfarne, I Know What You Are is an eve-of-battle song: Viking; edging the sword; checking your armour; putting on your helm; drawing your line in the sand; getting ready to fight because it’s the right thing to do.
TF: What is your plan for the remainder of the year, after this single release, did I note an album release?
I think we’ll produce one more video for The Sense of an Ending. We’re already planning the next album. Titled Songs for Separated Parents, we’ll be working on it over the winter for release next year. We’re very excited by the material – it’s thematically-linked to Northumbria, but the approach to the instrumentation is, so far, somewhat different. Northumbria was a lush evocation of very complex realities and histories using altered tunings and found sound approaches. Songs are feeling more stripped-back and naked at the moment. The blank page is simultaneously terrifying, liberating and exciting – so we’re enjoying all of the emotions it’s provoking thus far!
TF: Where is your favourite venue for playing live, where is the next place you look most forward to gigging?
There are several! The Academy in Manchester – so many great nights there; and Dublin Castle. Playing there and selling it out on our first visit to London was incredible. Playing at The Shore in Edinburgh was always a great night too. Ditto The Greystones in Sheffield. Music really comes alive when other people are involved. Lockdown has made gigging difficult – but it means that we can focus on other elements of making music; like producing the videos. We’ve also started a Remembrance Relay.
A song I wrote called I Heart Manchester on the day of the Manchester Bombing will be covered and released every year on the date of the bombing so that the victims and their families aren’t forgotten. Frank Turner has agreed to be the first link in the chain in 2021, so we’re looking forward to hearing what he does with the tune and celebrating the lives and memories of the loved ones we lost.