Heavy music in 2017 has expanded its horizons to new and rather intriguing places. With more bands looking to broaden their pastures, it allows creativity to thrive and the spectrum of heavy music is evolving. Bloodstock Festival has a handful of bands at the forefront of this evolution that have graced this year’s lineup and COURTESANS are probably the most intriguing band out of the bunch. The all-female outfit’s soundscape is truly expansive, covering a wide range of styles and genres. Before their mesmerising performance on the Sophie Lancaster Stage (read our review of that performance here), we caught up with the band to talk about playing Bloodstock for the first time and the inevitable nerves that come with that, the reception to their debut EP Better Safe Than Sober, their wide range of influences and how the band are truly connecting with listeners.
So COURTESANS are playing Bloodstock later today. What can people expect from your set?
Agnes: I would say probably something different because we don’t fall directly into the metal genre. I think we will be stirring some shit up!
Saffire: We don’t quite fit into that demographic so they are going to see something they aren’t used to seeing.
Agnes: They’re going to get marmite.
Sinead: You either love us or you hate us!
COURTESANS being billed for Bloodstock this year, it’s kind of an odd choice when you consider who else is playing today. Are there are nerves coming into this performance?
Sinead: Absolutely! We’re literally pebble-dashing already!
Agnes: I literally did yesterday! I did it in front of the whole band and crew. It was quite embarrassing and everyone just laughed, only she was the only one who didn’t.
Sinead: I was concerned because I’ve been there myself, but no, we’re very nervous but we are so excited. We are so honoured to be playing the Sophie Lancaster Stage. It’s a big deal for us, this is the biggest festival we’ve ever played so we are really excited!
There are a few bands like COURTESANS who are playing this year’s festival and who are quite different, like PUPPY for example, bands that don’t fit into the typical metal demographic. What do you think that says about heavy music in 2017?
Saffire: Yeah, it’s more open and there is a evolution now.
Sinead: It should be open as well because especially bands on the Sophie Lancaster Stage, that stage stands for equality and diversity, and we shouldn’t be categorising one genre of music in the rock world. It should be open to be a bit different, to be a bit more urban, because at the end of the day we are all alternative kids and that is what we stand for.
Agnes: Like what Saff said, it’s actually an evolution, a music evolution in the making. It’s good to cherish the old school stuff but it’s great to mix up genres. It can make something completely new. I think it’s great and I’m glad there are a few bands on this year’s festival like that, it says a lot.
I guess as well playing a festival like this which is stereotypically straight-up metal, it can open COURTESANS up to a load of new fans who wouldn’t have checked you out otherwise?
Saffire: Definitely, I think we are very dynamic and we’ve got those metal elements within our work but that dynamic carries over.
Agnes: We have loads of influences. You can hear it in our tracks quite a lot.
I was just about to go onto that! Your influences must be massive! With COURTESANS’ sound, it’s very hard to categorise your sound into different genres, so when you are writing do you just look at music as a whole?
Agnes: Well the way we work, basically everyone is like a perfect social democracy within the band. Everyone is free to add something and this is because we all come from slightly different backgrounds and very different places. Not massively different, but we all have slightly different influences so there is punk, there is grunge, there is metal involved but also there is r ‘n’ b, dance, trance and drum and bass.
Saffire: And choral stuff…
Agnes: I’ve sang in church choirs so we’ve included that as well. I think because we have this mixing pot and everybody is free to add the outcome is that we just shit over all categorising tools that you can imagine!
COURTESANS are playing Bloodstock on the back off your EP Better Safe Than Sober, how have you found the reception for that?
Sinead: It’s been really positive actually, we can’t thank people enough for the support. We didn’t expect people to dig it as much as they are. As artists you do your music and you do what you love because you love it and you hope that other people feel what you feel and relate to your tracks. We’ve had such a good response and a lot of people have been in similar situations to what we are writing about and they feel it too, so it’s good to get that response. That good vibe, they are feeling the music and it’s not just about looking at us on stage, they are actually listening to the song. Better Safe Than Sober resonates with a lot of people.
When I’ve listened to it, the lyrical topics seem really emotional. Does that come from personal experience?
Agnes: Every single one of those songs is based off some form of experience. John Doe you have that bitter analysis of the modern way of living, that work, sleep, work, sleep routine that is slowly killing you and killing any form of passion. It drags everyone into depression and the reliance on antidepressants. I was actually checking how a massive percentage of the population, including myself, are on antidepressants and there is a reason for that, you have to analyse it. Then you have Knowhere which is basically another sarcastic and self-deprecating drug addiction story, then you have Feel The Same which is very emotional and is about toxic relationships. The Tide is the same subject.
I think that is good to have, then it allows listeners to really connect with it…
Agnes: That’s right yeah.
So have you started moving towards writing a debut album?
Saffire: Yeah we have, that process started a few months ago. We’ve got quite a few really heavy tracks that are going on.
Agnes: We’ll be performing one today as well.
Sinead: So yeah, definitely look out for that! I think, depending on where we are in our lives and what’s happened, it sort of splurs out into your writing. So at the moment we are quite angry at the world, politically speaking. That is something we are going to shout about.
Agnes: Generally, we’re all different but we all have strong personalities, we’re very opinionated. 1917, which by the way was our debut, that was very tamed and we didn’t feel that was completely a full expression of who we are. We played very safe with that. Better Safe Than Sober, you can feel more angst and we started being more outspoken about what is inside us and I think this one will definitely be more political, much more angry and you will hear a lot of lyrics that portray our views on the world.
Sinead: We believe in no barriers.
Awesome, so just to close off, once you have played Bloodstock what is next for COURTESANS?
Saffire: We’ve got WEDNESDAY 13!
Sinead: Yeah, so we’re going to be supporting WEDNESDAY 13 towards the end of the year and we’ve got a couple more gigs that are going to be announced shortly but we’re also going to be continuing to write the album.
Well best of luck for your set later and for what the future holds!
Better Safe Than Sober is out now via self-release.
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