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Video of the Moment #1445: Sky Larkin

By on Thursday, 6th February 2014 at 6:00 pm

Sky Larkin have released a unique video for track ‘Newsworthy’, off their September 2013 album ‘Motto’ out now on Wichita Recordings. This is a lyric video (“the cacophony is coming for me”) but with archived footage appropriate to the song title. Watch it below.

The Leeds band have also revealed plans to tour the UK in April and will also appear at Gold Sounds Festival in Leeds in late May; all the details are below the video embed.


Tuesday 8th April 2014 – Birmingham Bull’s Head
Wednesday 9th April 2014 – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
Thursday 10th April 2014 – Northampton Ledgendary Labour Club
Friday 11th April 2014 – Bristol Old Bookshop
Saturday 12th April 2014 – Portsmouth Edge of the Wedge
Wednesday 16th April 2014 – Liverpool Kazimier
Thursday 17th April 2014 – York Fibbers
Friday 18th April 2014 – Newcastle Cluny 2
26th May 2014 – Leeds Gold Sounds Festival @ Brudenell Social Club


Interview: Nestor Matthews of Sky Larkin

By on Friday, 18th October 2013 at 11:00 am

Whimsical indie rock four-piece Sky Larkin have reinvigorated themselves with a crisp autumnal LP in ‘Motto’ (reviewed by Carrie here), their third studio album out now on Wichita Recordings. Following a 3-year hiatus, a line-up change and what sounds like a subtle shift in perspective, drummer Nestor Matthews stepped in to talk us through their latest release after a balmy reunion with fans at London’s Lexington in September.

Sky Larkin has some new blood, with Sam Pryor and Nile Marr coming in on bass and guitar, respectively. How would you sum up their influence on your latest album, ‘Motto’?
It was fascinating to watch the songs develop and grow as they travelled through new ears and new fingers. Their interpretations and responses to the noises and established ideas that Katie and I might have been used to as Sky Larkin made us, in turn, open to new ideas and avenues that we might have never thought to explore were it not for them.

Do you think that the time you’ve had to reflect during your three years apart has changed the feel of the album?
I’d be worried if the time hadn’t changed us in some way. I think we took the opportunity to hone what we wanted to do and be, so that when it came to making the record, there was an unstated sense of unified direction and velocity. We might not have been fully clear on what we wanted the record to be, in the early stages at least, but we had the time to work out how we wanted to get there.

‘Loom’ (previous Video of the Moment here) has ‘irritating personality trait’ written all over it. Who’s got the worst habit in the band?
I thought I’d managed to conquer it, but towards the end of our recent UK tour I found myself tapping my forehead with a drumstick on stage again. It might not be particularly annoying for anyone else, but the headache and angry red forehead that I woke up to the mornings after certainly made me pretty irritable/irritating!

You came from a special moment in the history of the Leeds music scene, alongside the likes of Pulled Apart by Horses and Grammatics. What do you think is unique about the provincial approach?
I think it’s very much to do with the melting pot that was, and still is, Hyde Park. Students from every university and college in the city live there in back to back houses, with ideas and sounds and friendships constantly osmos-ing between the walls. Then there is, of course, The Brudenell Social Club, where those sounds and ideas can be put into practice in front of an enthusiastic and welcoming community of like-minded creators and collaborators. I don’t think it’s necessarily a special moment in the history of Leeds, but just a special place, as it’s still happening right now!

What is it about Seattle as a recording location that keeps pulling you back?
When we first ventured across the pond our plan was that in a new and scary place we would have to focus on working on the record, we wouldn’t be able to pop home for a cup of tea or stay out that little bit too late with friends the night before. But then as we got to know our producer John Goodmanson and he got to know us and as we gradually began to remember our way round it became almost the opposite of that: a city that we know and love in which we can work with a great producer who knows how to get to what we’re after and, most importantly, where to find the best coffee and doughnuts.

We know Sky Larkin are big festival lovers. What would be your perfect summer itinerary for 2014?
I’ve never managed to make it to an All Tomorrow’s Parties before, and now it looks like perhaps I never will, so ATP would definitely be a top, although extremely optimistic, priority for 2014. I’d like to make it to Liverpool PsychFest next year too, apparently this year was infinitely greater than last year, and last year was amazing!

I also completely missed David Byrne and St. Vincent’s Love This Giant European tour, which sounded absolutely incredible. David singing St. Vincent songs, Annie singing Talking Heads songs, horn sections and sporadic choreography, all the ingredients for a great festival show, right?! So, if they could be added to every bill for summer festivals that’d be great, thanks.

Oh and maybe The Knife for later on at night too, please!

What is the motto that matters most?

TGTF would like to thank Nestor for taking time out of the band’s hectic tour schedule to answer our questions and Kate for sorting this for us. Cheers!


Live Review: Sky Larkin at London Lexington – 17th September 2013

By on Wednesday, 25th September 2013 at 2:00 pm

The sumptuous surroundings of The Lexington in London’s Kings Cross, with its deep claret walls, raised mezzanine and Victorian charm, always seems to yield a civilised affair. Especially when set against the floorboard-ripping antics of Camden’s many boozer/venue crossovers that lay just the other side of the station. And, here again, a diverse crowd of loyal fans and curious new-bloods converged for Sky Larkin’s first London show in 3 years; an intimate airing of their already acclaimed third studio album ‘Motto’, released just a day earlier on Wichita Recordings – “the only label that will bring you a whiskey on stage”. (Read Carrie’s review of ‘Motto’ here.)

Opening with ‘Still Windmills’ from their second album ‘Kaleide’, it was fitting that the first lyrics uttered that night were: “I know there’s potential”. Not only was their live sound a nicely fattened, foie gras extension of the playfully whimsical vocals and multi-level guitar fog of their studio sound, but, as we were soon to find out, their latest material represents an effortless slide into musical maturity. ‘Treasury’, the first offering from their new album, was transformed into a kind of call-and-response meeting of tempos that hadn’t been half as evident on the album. It’s a racy number, dripping with feedback, which climaxes with lead singer and guitarist Katie Harkin wailing at the mic from six inches away to add a new realm of reverb.

Their next track, ‘Loom’, carries the same kind of infectious potential you’re warned about in sex ed classes, with an accompanying video that playfully juxtaposes the sense of frustration through inactivity elicited in the lyrics. Their live interpretation had an air of Giant Drag about it, and for such a streamlined guy, bassist Sam Pryor managed to produce a behemoth bass line more reminiscent of rolling thunder. In so many ways this song sums up Sky Larkin’s approach to music; forgoing the passions of love and hate for an investigation into the nuances of normality.

A flutter of high-hat and snare from drummer Nestor Matthews gave the chorus of their next track, ‘Carve It Out’, a sense of brevity that lifted it above the more conventional indie rhythms that had been on display so far. A busy number with a thousand components, the track showcased the versatility that, in part, is the reason ‘Motto’ is on an upward trajectory. Next up, ‘Bravo Dodo’ was a lesson in how to make a two word chorus imply more than any Meatloaf-like barrage of language; sitting back on the beat, confident in its own majesty.

‘Frozen Summer’, a slow burner centred around just two chords, built progressively into an epic closing section that married interstellar cyclic arpeggios and a lumbering, comedy dinosaur bass line. The interaction between the three present band members during this track gave the biggest indication yet of the kind of rapport that can be cultivated from spending 8 years onstage together (although Sam Pryor only stepped in last year, and guitarist Nile Marr was absent). Between jibes about Sunderland Sam’s “why-aye phone”, and the hilariously cutting query over whether “anyone here was from London”, it could be seen that such comfort suggests that this album, as the lyrics suggest, represents the summer of their own souls.

Harkin got lost somewhere in the stripped-back simplicity of at the start of ‘Newsworthy’, focused squarely on a single spot on the back wall to the extent that you didn’t want to turn round in case you saw a rogue 747 making a beeline from Heathrow. By the end of the track – a standout on the new album – she was beating on her guitar with fervour, a theme that continued (with just a hint of indie irony) into ‘Matador’, from their 2009 debut ‘The Golden Spike’. A well placed cover can tell you so much about a band’s influences and mission statement. And, so it was that the band descended into X-Ray Spex’s ‘The Day the World Turned Day-Glo’; a choice that signifies a move away from bigoted feminine pop archetypes and towards a more tongue-in-cheek, lyrically challenging concoction. Oh bondage, up yours!

One last sojourn into ‘The Golden Spike’ with ‘Summit’ was clearly appreciated by the old faithful and, after a wrangle over whether an encore was worthwhile if you had to walk through the crowd to get out, they decided to plunge straight into their closing number, the title track of their latest album ‘Motto’. Quite a statement for a final track, and likely to be the only song that has had the time to be fully digested by their fans, ‘Motto’ built out of three lonely chords with a bass line reminiscent of the opening of The Doors’ ‘LA Woman’. It is not a similarity that continued, however, and the freedom Katie was able to express through her wandering vocal melodies kept raising that same X-Ray Spex inspired flag. Seemingly somewhat of a satire on the music industry’s promise to deliver “the mottos to mutter” (or, more accurately “the catchphrase of the cash cow”), it was evident by now that Sky Larkin had given everything in an hour-long burst of energy; creating something that no amount of pay advances and larynx insurance could conjure – real world emotion.


Album Review: Sky Larkin – Motto

By on Thursday, 12th September 2013 at 12:00 pm

Sky Larkin Motto coverSky Larkin’s third studio album ‘Motto’ is set for release on Monday the 16th of September, just over 3 years after 2010’s ‘Kaleide’. In that time, the band have been touring and playing almost constantly, both as a unit and individually with other groups. Earlier this year, the reformed quartet – having switched Sam Pryor for Doug Adams on bass and adding Nile Marr as a second guitarist – returned to Yorkshire to finish writing the album, which was then recorded in Seattle with producer and collaborator John Goodmanson.

Singer/guitarist Katie Harkin began the writing process for ‘Motto’ while on tour with art rock band Wild Beasts, and her choices of subject matter reflect the wandering, reflective mood of that vagabond existence, including songs about dreaming of home (‘Tarn’), memories of love (‘Treasury’), and artistic quandaries (title track ‘Motto’). Lyrically, the songs are full of imaginative and evocative imagery, such as the opening line of ‘Overgrown’: “In the hills above Bradford, there was a horrid accident.”

But while the album’s themes are eclectically varied, the music itself is almost alarmingly static. Harkin’s singing, while clear in tone quality, is somewhat monotonous, especially given the angular shape of the vocal melodies. Aside from some slick guitar work here and there, the instrumental intensity is overpowering in its lack of technical sensitivity, completely annihilating Harkin’s vocal lines with heavy, screeching guitars and incessantly crashing drums.

One of the lyrics in ‘Newsworthy’ seems ironically apropos, as it declares, “Darling, I’m drowning, the cacophony is coming for me / There is no such thing as disembodied intimacy.” Indeed, the harsh instrumental racket completely destroys the sense of emotional connection to the lyrics, as the subtleties of their elusive imagery and ambiguous poetic structure are lost in relentless surges of noise.

The album’s first single, ‘Motto’, begins with a dirge-like introduction and a driving bass riff before diving headlong into its singsong refrain, “I saw what I saw / Saw what I saw / Did what I did.” If Harkin actually does have a “motto to mutter”, she does it here; these are easily the catchiest lyrics on the album.

‘Que Linda (Wake To Applause)’ is a surprising but welcome reprieve from the blaring urgency of the rest of the album. Placed at the end of the track listing, it is a novel finishing touch. Harkin’s ethereal singing and muted keyboard melody are perfectly illustrative of “music floating down from an open window.” Deftly added guitars and soft percussion bring depth and definition before the gentle fadeout at the end.

Katie Harkin’s stated intent for this third album was to be both “immediate” and “expansive,” to “make something beautiful that wasn’t also permissive”. While ‘Motto’ is both immediate and expansive, it doesn’t quite bridge the dichotomy, creating instead a somewhat belligerent overstatement of their case. Another round of touring with the newly formed line-up might help Sky Larkin find their happy medium.


‘Motto’ is out Monday (the 16th of September) on Wichita Recordings. Listen to the title track in the Soundcloud widget below. Sky Larkin are set to begin their UK tour the day after, on Tuesday the 17th of September at London Lexington; for full details, go here.


Sky Larkin / September 2013 UK Tour

By on Thursday, 29th August 2013 at 9:30 am

Sky Larkin will be heading out on a UK tour the day after their next album, ‘Motto’, is released on Wichita Recordings. Tickets to the Leeds band’s tour in September are on sale now.

Tuesday 17th September 2013 – London Lexington
Wednesday 18th September 2013 – Leicester Firebug
Thursday 19th September 2013 – Sheffield Harley ?
Saturday 21st September 2013 – Glasgow Nice ‘n’ Sleazy (Cut Loose show)
Sunday 22th September 2013 – Sunderland Pop Recs Ltd
Monday 23th September 2013 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club?
Tuesday 24th September 2013 – Southampton Joiners
Wednesday 25th September 2013 – Nottingham Bodega
Thursday 26th September 2013 – Cardiff Ten Feet Tall
?Saturday 28th September 2013 – Aldershot West End Centre
Monday 30th September 2013 – Manchester Deaf Institute


Video of the Moment #1291: Sky Larkin

By on Tuesday, 13th August 2013 at 6:00 pm

Sky Larkin are back with a new single, ‘Loom’, to be released on Wichita Recordings on the 9th of September. Their next album, ‘Motto’, is due out a week later, on the 16th of September. The summery, freewheeling feel of the promo for ‘Loom’ belies its true nature (listen to the lyrics). Watch it below.



About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

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