Dan Davies talks to Saint Etienne’s main man Bob Stanley about his part in Moseley folk
From 1960s inspired pop to ambient electronica to euro house, Saint Etienne have played many different styles of music in their career but they aren’t the first band that springs to mind when you think of Moseley Folk Festival. So would Saint Etienne consider themselves folkies?
‘No!’ laughs Bob Stanley, ‘We like it, I’ve been in to folk music as long as I can remember. There was a lot of singer songwriter stuff inspired by folk in the 1970s, which is part of our sound. Actually we did an album called Tiger Bay and took a load of traditional folk melodies with electronic production – now that seems like the corniest thing of all time now but it didn’t then. We’re not a folk group at all.’
Stanley formed Saint Etienne with schoolmate Pete Wiggs in 1989 but it wasn’t until they employed the breathy vocal talents of Sarah Cracknell that the began to gel as a band. Their debut album Foxbase Alpha released in 1991 had indie roots but was heading in a dance direction. It changed the face of UK pop music, inspiring countless bands and dance acts alike. On Friday they will be replaying that seminal album in its entirety with a few modern day technical touches,
‘We’ve been to quite a few of these type of gigs you need to aware not to tweak it too much. Nobody wants to hear something new when you’re recreating an old album. It’s more like we’ve bolstered the old stuff, it was recorded on an 8-track so it was quite basic. Hopefully people won’t notice the tweaks.’
Stanley is part curating Friday’s line-up which alongside reasonably straight up folk of Mary Hampton also includes The Pastels & Tenniscoats, two delightful Swedes Frida Hyvonen and El Perro Del Mar and Birmingham’s own electronic psychedelic band Seeland.
‘I loved his album it was great. But I though as I was flying two people over from Sweden I thought I’d even travel expenses a bit,’ quips Stanley.
‘Yeah there was a time when I came to Moseley and I realised all these different bands actually worked in the same video shop! [Cinephillia] There were four different bands Broadcast, Plone, Pram and Modified Toy Orchestra, it’s great to have that represented as well.’
Saturday and Sunday at the festival are a bit more traditional but still tempered with more exciting fringe experiments. Amongst the entertainment on Saturday are Kris Drever, John McCusker and Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble and Saint Etienne’s former label mate, Beth Orton . Then on Sunday old hands Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick and the mighty Jethro Tull line up alongside Cara Dillon and Ade Edmondson’s folk version of punk and new wave songs The Bad Shepherds on Sunday.
Fri to Sun, Moseley Park, Alcester Road, Moseley, Fri 2pm to 11pm, Sat and Sun noon to 11pm, weekend £65, Fri £20, Sat and Sun £35 per day, concs available. Tel: 0778 944 0026. Moseley Folk website, Saint Etienne website.