It’s hard to believe that the duo of vocalist/guitarist Gareth Lee and vocalist/violinist Annie Baylis has only existed since the start of this year, and even more striking that the pair had never previously met until on the set of their first music video. When you listen to their superbly crafted, pleasantly harmonic folk/pop, it sounds like the work of a pair who have known each other for years.
Gareth’s wispy, refined vocals and laid-back guitar melodies coupled with soothing strings and deft vocals courtesy of Annie forms a striking combination, and the terrific chemistry and flawless harmonies of the duo make their music instantly memorable on first listen.
Here is an interview with the duo straight from finishing their set at this year’s Helstonbury festival.
How long have you been together as a duo?
We formed the band at the beginning of this year, but we’ve been gigging together a year before.
How did you first meet?
Remarkably the first time we properly met in person was on the same day we shot our first music video in St Mawes. We hadn’t seen other on the gigging circuit up to then and it was through friends of ours where we first heard of each other. We sent each other tracks and worked out some harmonies online. The day we first met on the set of our video was a slightly surreal experience, but one that sparked off our musical journey together.
Obviously you come from very different music backgrounds. Has working together brought a new element to both of your individual musical styles?
I think in terms of our approach to writing songs it’s definitely brought about a change. We’re able to bounce our own ideas off each other and bring our own style to the songs we write together, which enables us to inject a lot more creativity and energy into our songwriting.
Have you recorded any material together, and plan to release new music in the future?
We’ve very much rushed into that process as a lot of our songs were still very undeveloped going into the studio. We hadn’t gigged much prior to our first few sessions, so when we performed our tracks in the studio, they lost their ‘feel’ or the live element they had.
We felt that instead of going headfirst into a studio, it’d be much more natural to record us in a live environment. A couple of weeks ago, we recorded some of our live gigs and we plan to compile some of these recordings onto our first EP, which we intend to release in September.
Have you toured much outside of Cornwall?
We have done a few shows out of Cornwall recently. Weirdly enough, our first gig away from home was all the way in Newcastle which obviously was a very long trip for us, and it was make-or-break whether we could stick it that long. We made it through the trip and through the gig though, and we certainly learned plenty more about each other on the long, audacious journey there.
Do you think there are enough music venues in Cornwall to really drive its music scene?
The sad thing is that a lot of the places in Cornwall that are really getting behind original music don’t make enough money to keep them open. The Nightjar in Truro is one great former music venue that unfortunately shut down recently. They were extremely supportive of original music, and venues with that level of passion are very rare down here.
Are there any artists in the Cornish scene you think could breakthrough in the next year?
Cornwall is full of ridiculously talented songwriters, and there’s always new people coming through. People always think London is the haven of good music. London does have a lot of talented artists too and playing in London is a great platform to kickstart your music career, but I find it sad that Cornwall gets overlooked as a musical base because we have so many artists with so much potential.
More from Gareth Lee & Annie Baylis:
More from Gareth Lee: