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Interview with Amy Sibley-Allen, Head of Programme at Kings Place
Folk and Honey catches up with Amy Sibley-Allen, Head of Programme at Kings Place, to talk dream line-ups and the future of folk music in London. Photo by Nick White
How healthy do you think the folk music scene in London is?
Healthy to a certain extent but there is still work to do to insure the future of folk music by preserving the traditional and re-inventing and fostering the contemporary. Unbelievably there is still no established London-based folk festival like the Proms or London Jazz Festival. Glasgow has Celtic Connections for example but we’ve just not got the same weight here. Having said that there are lots of artists making great music, great venues from pubs to concert halls putting on folk music and some great organisations promoting folk.
What subgenres are on the rise and fall?
People get so hung up on the naming of subgenres! Folk and associated music continue to feed into and fuse with all types of music-making which is great and of course that will continue to develop in a whole host of creative ways. Alasdair Roberts for example is traditional in The Furrow Collective but on his own manages to reach contemporary/indie audiences.
Where do you see it all going next?
More underground speakeasy style folk nights like Woodburner and smaller ‘house’ style events in people´s homes. Also more crossover and inspiration from folk taking music in new directions. It’s important though that traditional platforms are maintained and hopefully that will be the case.
What is the most played song in your music player?
At the moment I have been listening to Daughter, Caribou, The Rails but I play all sorts!
What is the last piece of music you bought?
Jamie XX In Colour
What was the first album you ever bought?
Annie Lennox DIVA 1992. It reminds me of playing it on personal cassette, coming back from visiting my cousins. Little Bird caught my attention ´I wish that I could be that little bird and fly, far away from here, I wish I had the wings to fly away from here.´
What was the first gig you went to and how old were you?
It was Cast at the Brighton Centre and I would have been around 13. I went to schools in Lewes and my best friend at the time was really into her music so she introduced me to a lot. I remember music being a huge part of my teenage years.
What is the best part of your job?
The variety, meeting some amazing artists and being around inspiring individuals - the artists, the partners we work with and my colleagues, including Peter Millican, Programme Director of Kings Place, who just got an OBE. But mostly, my favourite bit is going to a concert and watching the audience!
What would your dream line-up for Kings Place be?
That is tricky, probably a mash-up / collaboration across all genres from Prince to Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone.
Your proudest moment so far working with Kings Place?
I feel pretty proud about everything we do at Kings Place. One of my favourite things is seeing the programme come alive in our season or series print and I realise how hard everyone works to pull it all together.
If you weren’t working for Kings Place what would you be doing?
In an alternative life I´d be a photographer or a singer/songwriter (and I´d actually be good at it!)
Apart from Kings Place where is your favourite place for live music in London?
Oh there are lots of great places! Union Chapel is definitely one of my favourites. I also like the Vortex, Cafe Oto and places like The Green Note. Smaller places over big concerts (although I do love Brixton Academy)
What are you most looking forward to in the coming months?
I can´t wait for the Autumn season at Kings Place to start! We have a great annual festival which runs from the 11-13 September to kick it all off. It takes place across the whole building with ticketed events at £6.50, plus a lot of free events too. It covers the breadth of what we do including a weekend of taster sessions. It will feature some excellent folk artists like The Ceilidh Liberation Front, The Rails, Sam Amidon
We’ve also got a lot more to look forward to over the next few months from the likes of Patty Griffin, Jim Causley, Kris Drever & Ian Caar and The Furrow Collective.
More details on forthcoming concerts and events at Kings Place can be found here