Debut for musical duo

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Debut for musical duo

Friday April 24, 2009

Folk meets pop: Siskin.

Long-term Hammersmith residents Galen Ayers and Kirsty Newton have been making music together for four years.

Siskin is their latest project, and focuses on their strengths as a duo. Their poignant song-writing, unusually intricate harmonies and natural onstage chemistry have already earned an ardent following in London and beyond.

Although they are committed musical collaborators and close friends, they come from very different backgrounds.

Galen was brought up in Deiá, Majorca, the daughter of Kevin Ayers, a founder member of British psychedelic music pioneers Soft Machine.

Kirsty grew up in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, and is classically trained in oboe and piano.

Northern England and a Spanish island seem worlds apart, but Galen and Kirsty say their upbringing was not so different. Both places have a reputation for fostering artistic creativity, which has had a large impact on their formative years.

It was after they decided to pursue music careers in their teens that they relocated to west London, enjoying a reasonable degree of individual success.

Galen has worked with the likes of Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth from Talking Heads/TomTom Club, and Richard Lloyd of seminal new wave band Television as well as writing and performing her own material.

Kirsty has been involved in an array of musical projects including touring and performing with comedian Mitch Benn (as one half of The Distractions) and If. comedy award winner Phil Nichol.

She used to be a full-time music teacher at Fulham Prep and still gives oboe and piano lessons to pupils one day a week.

They met when Kirsty was drafted in to play bass guitar for Galen's self-titled band. It soon became clear that they would make an effective writing and performance partnership.

Siskin was born, with Galen singing and playing acoustic guitar and Kirsty providing vocal harmonies, bass guitar, keyboard and orchestral arrangements.

They perform a sort of folk and pop hybrid with a focus on the lyrical content and the storytelling nature of their songs. They share a wide variety of influences, many classical, and though not aiming to fit into any genre, Galen says that they're happy to belong to a musical tradition encompassing "The Beatles, The Muppets and everything in between".

At the moment Siskin are gearing up for the April launch of their eponymous debut album by playing a number of gigs. Most exciting for both was having the privilege of being the only musical act playing this year's International Women's Day celebrations at City Hall.

Both passionate on the subject of human rights, they felt especially honoured to be on the same bill as Leah Chishugi, a Rwandan genocide survivor and founder of charity Everything is a Benefit.

With the album release and various showcases in the pipeline, 2009 is set to be an exciting year for Siskin.

Siskin is released this week. For more information check out (opens new window).