When scouring through the archives of 1960’s groups in Liverpool, apart from mop topped scoundrels with chiselled jaws and cheeky smiles, the over-riding image is of three-piece girl bands with hands on their hips and life in their hair. Whilst STEALING SHEEP are by no means a carbon copy of this tried and tested trend, much preferring to keep their arms at their sides and let their hair droop, the fact they exist in Liverpool as a trio does evoke a certain nostalgia. It’s something that the group (Becky, Emily and Lucy) are acutely aware of but they are quick to denounce any similarity between their project and the threesomes of now and time gone by. Crucially, they feel that “there will always be a space for something different.”
Stealing Sheep’s something different is not a new slant on 80’s pop, nor a reminiscent nod to the 60’s and 70’s, instead they have forged a part twee, part experimental noise, based on harmonies and the pursuit of joyous misery. It’s both paradoxical and perfect for the all girl group. And though the diffidence of youth and the twinkle of innocence and melancholy may be the hallmarks of a Stealing Sheep song, to tie them down to a traditional sound shows little respect for the level of craftsmanship that their recent What If The Lights Went Out EP released on Red Deer Club shows. Howling and whimsically cooing their way into folksy territory whilst adding sufficient reverb and echoing grooves, they show signs of becoming a band willing to evolve out of confined boundaries, way out of the mainstream and into the art elect.
In truth, in the world of art house cinema and quirky creativity is where they truly belong, in Keith’s, a cafe on Lark Lane, where the interview and meeting takes place, conversation moves freely around such issues; they all praise David Lynch, the power of the soundtrack and the art of “conceptualising” performance. What could be seen as pretension and a showing of nuanced cool cards by some is the opposite with Stealing Sheep. Instead of a forced persona, they ooze a natural love of all things original and in summing up the Liverpool nesne offer a cooler perspective than most commentators could conjure:
“In Liverpool, it’s more scenes within scenes. Overlapping these mini-scenes is an arching scene of overall creativity, that’s what’s exciting” they muse, in between helpings of pita bread and glugs of what looked like beautiful tea.
And, somewhat enjoying the virtues of that overarching sphere of creativity, the band collaborated with Obscenic recently to shoot School House Sessions, a short film in a disused school hall, now being brought back to life as a creative hub. Alongside an animation of their accordion laden track There’s Only One by South Korean artist Doyeon Noh, Stealing Sheep are building up an interesting collection of work across various different mediums, the group’s musical output being presented in various different forms and contexts. Their vimeo presence is well worth a visit.
Not fazed by increasing media coverage – including a very well received BBC Session for Mark Riley – a nationwide tour and a growing herd of following fans, the Sheep take everything in their stride. As do they the fact their next release is to soundtrack a short film made by 20 year old NewYork Art Student Rivkah Gevinson, starring Tavi Gevinson (The Style Rookie) a 13 year old fashion blogger internet sensation who has graced the cover of 2 issues of Vogue this year. In an age in which folk and its spin off genres colour adverts and hijack the charts, potentially sacrificing a sacred art to the demonic teeth of commercialism, Stealing Sheep offer a genuinely unique blanket to hide beneath. Cowering under their quilt of wilting romance and majestic melody it would take a crooked soul or a hardened heart to not submit to their perpetual charm. Villains, thieves and criminals best close your ears if you hear Stealing Sheep coming your way. They can heal you in one swift chorus. Who’d have thought it? Stealing Sheep save Broken Britain.