Artist Interviews

Q&A: Brotherly

By | Published on Wednesday 24 February 2010


Brotherly are a London-based duo, made up of vocalist Anna Stubbs and multi-instrumentalist Rob Mullarkey, best known for his work as bass player in Zero 7. Live and in the studio, the duo are joined by a plethora of other musicians, including the likes of Eska, Ty and Earl Zinger, taking inspiration from soul, hip hop and electronica along the way.

Having been nominated for Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Session Of The Year in 2006, following their performance at BBC Maida Vale studios, the band are now back with some new material, with a single, ‘Find First Light’, released on 1 Mar. Ahead of their gig at Cargo in London on 28 Feb, we caught up with Brotherly to ask the Same Six.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
Living in Leeds when we were students, and having a great live band playing lots of gigs, we were able to experiment musically. There was no pressure to follow any trend, or to be overtly commercial, so consequently we just did what we liked, which was very freeing, and enabled us to try out many different styles. We got away with murder! Just imagine what happens when you get a crowd of pissed up art and music students and a singer with a delay pedal. Come to think of it, what did happen to that delay pedal? It took a long time to hone things down to where we are now, but there is still that wild element trying to break through.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
On an album like Joni Mitchell’s ‘Hissing Of Summer Lawns’ or Boards Of Canada’s ‘Music Has The Right To Children’, the music takes you away to another space and time. We wanted to reproduce that feeling for our listeners. And to have a set of songs that could work in both an intimate acoustic setting and a full band situation.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
Getting really still, and listening to the feeling, then trying to explain it through lyrics and sounds. Good strong coffee, a year of thumping noises from the studio and the neighbours’ walls, then a couple of rollercoaster vocal sessions (insecure singer + perfectionist producer + partners + difficult songs = a challenge) and you have the music that is Brotherly. A bit like having a baby. But more difficult. Sounds better though. Probably.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
Lewis Taylor, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Q-Tip, Marvin, Joni Mitchell, Pepe Bradock, Prince, Flying Lotus, Shuggie Otis and Fleetwood Mac.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
Try not to let your mind compare us to other artists, or to try and pigeon hole our sound. This is brand new music, but in order for us to master our instruments we have ingested a lot of styles. If you get a chance, come and see us live, we really take the music to a different level.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
We want to keep finding fans that love our music and understand us. Nothing feels better than connecting with people through music. We like the idea of there being ‘Brotherly’ music, a way of describing our way of combining noises. We also hope that the music industry finds a way of earning a living for musicians and writers again.