Sunflower Thieves: ‘Learning Every Time We Write a New Song'

Leeds-based pop-folk duo Sunflower Thieves, made up of Lily and Amy, have built a reputation for themselves for creating calming melodies, hazy vocals and exquisite harmonies.

The duo just released their brand new track ‘Don’t Mind The Weather’, written in collaboration with fellow-Leeds artist and friend Mehalah Ray.

Their new track is their fourth single and in typical Sunflower Thieves’ fashion, the song is built around tranquil melodies and uses natural world imagery to convey their message.

The hazy and magical soundscape which includes double-tracked vocals and silky harmonies enhances the emotional feel of the song, allowing the duo’s voices to wash over you and create a safe haven.

We chatted with Sunflower Thieves about their latest single, collaborating with other artists and their unique journey.

So where did it all begin? How did you learn to sing/play/write?

We both had instrument lessons when we were young - Amy in flute, Lily in trumpet, and we both learned piano. A wonderful family friend of ours ran a children’s choir that we both went to and I guess that’s where our love of singing started.

Songwriting came a lot later for us, we went to a couple of ‘rock school’-type writing camps but we’re still learning about all of our instruments, including our voices, every time we write a new song.

How would you describe your style of music to someone who has never heard it before and which track would you plait introduce someone to your music and why?

We’ve adopted the term ‘dream-folk’ because we don’t think we fully fit into any of the classic genres… So yeah, dreamy, floaty, niceness on the ears.

The track we’d play is probably 'Hide and Seek'. During the process, we really started to feel like we had found our sound and have continued developing that in our following writes.

What was the inspiration behind your latest single, ‘Don’t Mind The Weather’?

We wrote it in February 2020, just coming out of a really tough winter - although little did we know what this one would be like!

The song captures the comfort of having people or just someone that truly loves you, will hold you and will keep you grounded through all the noise. Sometimes you can get swept away in everything that’s going on but there’s beauty in that, and you conquer it together.

What are the biggest lessons you have learnt about songwriting through collaborating with other musicians?

No idea is a bad idea. Just writing everything you think down is so so so useful - even if you don’t use those exact words it gives you options for later on in the song, or might spark a stronger or slightly different idea in someone else.

We were definitely more cautious when we first started writing with others, but now we know to just be ourselves and enjoy the process.

How do you tend to deal with writer’s block?

In previous years, when we’ve struggled with a song we have just got frustrated with it and given up on the song, which is a really difficult place to be in, especially when you love what you’ve written so far.

This would probably still happen a lot if we weren’t co-writing; it’s been incredible to realise how valuable it is to just have a concept or a line to bring to a session and then the song writes itself with more minds working on it at once.

As with everything, we go through periods of creativity and motivation and having other people there helps to keep the ideas moving.

What do you enjoy most about being a musician?

That’s a really hard one, there’s so much to love. The community we’ve built around us of amazing artists, journalists, engineers, photographers, venue reps etc. is just amazing - we feel so supported and encouraged.

Gigging is obviously up there, we’ve missed that a hell of a lot this year. Being on stage together in front of a crowd is just an incredible feeling.

What is a typical day in your lives like?

Every day is different. That’s an upside and a downside of being a musician. Some days are slow because you feel unmotivated, so being creative is literally impossible, but on these days we try to focus on more admin-based jobs that need doing.

On more motivated days at the moment Lily is getting on with producing our next EP, while we continue demo-ing songs we’re writing and for Amy, aside from the actual music, we have all sorts to think about - artwork, social media, funding opportunities and everything inbetween!

As an unsigned band, we’ve developed our dynamic over the years so we cover all bases between us.