In this interview spotlight, we speak with Climbing Trees about their latest release, influences, challenges and more.
Full Q&A along with links and streams below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
We’re a four-piece from the valleys of South Wales in the UK, which is where the similarities between us and Tom Jones end. In terms of the music, I hate getting asked this question, purely because I still haven’t worked out how to answer it! Depending on which song we’re playing, you could call us a rock band, a pop band, an indie band, a prog band, a folk band, and pretty much everything in between. I suppose the easiest thing is just to listen to our music without any preconceptions and make up your own mind, but there’s a nice combination of genres knocking about across both of our albums, and I’d like to think we’ve created quite a distinct and identifiable sound as a band.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to stay the course?
I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but personally I’ve been obsessed with music for as long as I can remember. I can vividly recall dancing around in my pants – that’s your underwear in the UK – to my Father’s Beatles records at the age of 3. I started playing the piano and composing my own pieces at 5, and I’m still doing it 23 years later. Just with a bigger beard…
In terms of motivation, I get a thrill from every aspect of music. Whether that’s writing a new song, recording an album or performing live, you have to enjoy every moment of it, and I really do. Perhaps the most satisfying aspect is knowing something that you’ve created has had a positive effect on someone else, and as more people hear Climbing Trees it’s becoming clear that our fans genuinely care about the music we make, which gives it some meaning and legitimacy outside of any personal satisfaction or achievement.
How is your new release different than previous ones? Did you set out to accomplish anything specific?
To put it simply, we wanted our latest album Borders to be bigger and better than the first. Our debut album Hebron was a pretty chilled affair for the most part, with elements of folk, country and Americana, or Cymrucana, as we dubbed it – ‘Cymru’ being the Welsh word for ‘Wales’. There are a couple of tracks on the first record that hinted at a more expansive sound, and that’s something we were definitely aiming for with the follow-up.
It’s also something that we’ve transferred to the live show, which is a lot heavier in parts than when we first started out. We still play stripped-back shows from time to time, though, and I think one of our stronger points as a band is that we’re able to play about with form and texture and almost adapt the songs to the venue if necessary. I love playing intimate shows to 50 people as much as playing to 1000 people at a festival, and it’s good that we can put a version of Climbing Trees out there to really connect with the audience at both ends of the spectrum.
Do you face challenges as an indie musician in a digital age? How has technology helped you (assuming it helps)?
I think technology has both helped and hindered the independent musician. It’s a lot easier for us to get our music ‘out there’ now, but at the same time the internet is saturated with music, videos and other distractions of varying degrees of quality vying for a couple of minutes of your attention. In many ways the challenge is the same as it always has been, though – to make your voice heard above the rest.
The internet has certainly helped us in terms of an international fanbase, and it’s the ability to reach listeners thousands of miles away that’s perhaps the most satisfying thing for an indie musician, and something which would have been pretty impossible not too long ago without the backing of a major label. I suppose a certain level of self-sufficiency is achievable now without having to rely on The Man…
Where can we connect with you online and discover more music?
You can find us pretty much everywhere, apart from Instagram. We’re not cool enough for that one… Other than that, we’re in all the usual places, but the best place to keep up to date with everything Climbing Trees is via the website at www.ilikeclimbingtrees.com, where you’ll find plenty of music, videos, pictures and other bits and bobs.
Anything else before we sign off?