A Blaze of Feather is Cornwall native Mickey Smith. Mickey is a long-standing collaborator with Ben Howard, and a touring member of his live band. Ben featured, albeit in the shadows, on Blaze of Feather’s self-titled debut album. Guitars here, faded vocals there. It was a sprawling affair, with much of Ben’s crew dropping by the wilds of rural Cornwall to lend their ears and considerable strengths to the record. They debuted the record live at the Latitude Festival, soaking the tent in an early evening, dewy psychedelic haze. They left it there too. As an opening gambit, it was a bold move. A confident one too. Less is more. No outstaying their welcome.
Clock Hands is a much more solitary affair but no less vast in scope and sound. Mickey has this innate penchant for writing easy, laidback melodies and painting them with a sonic dissonance that fits square pegs into round holes and makes it sound so gorgeously opaque. Those pegs fit like a glove.
“During the recent writing and recording sessions I listened to Bjork a lot. Her individual creative energies just strike me as phenomenal. Vulnicara in particular breaks my heart every listen. I keep Bjork’s work in mind whenever creating gets challenging. How open and fearless she is with feelings and emotions, unleashing vulnerability and strength through musicality. It gives me some comfort when I get scared of voicing some hidden part of myself through my own work.”
Inspiration can hit you at unusual moments, whether you’re seeking it or otherwise. The bleakness and breathtaking beauty of the Cornwall horizon acts as a constant source, juxtaposed with the devastation of grief, pain and confusion that Mickey’s experienced of recent years. He’s a man of the earth. Weighted by his location, and in touch with those surroundings that he holds close to heart.
“The realities of living in Cornwall at the end of the land informed a lot of these songs. Mental health and a lack of hope or opportunity is a real issue for many here. It’s a strange contrasting experience to the ‘picturesque as a postcard” front of tourism here. So my own experiences of that: losing close companions to suicide, addiction and depression. Living with grief and learning to deal with the challenges of those experiences.”