SUSSEX SOUNDS: Folk that goes bump in the night

Beck Sian and Jonathan Kershaw gothic music duo SUS-140626-104741001
Beck Sian and Jonathan Kershaw gothic music duo SUS-140626-104741001

Every song has a story to tell, even the scarier tales that lurk in our British literature. If Edgar Alan Poe, H.P Lovecraft or James Herbert were musicians, what kind of sound would they create?

The folk movement is one of the few genres that can execute a ghostly composition either eerily, romantically or purely frightening.

Imagine yourself located in the open-roofed ruins on the coast of Scotland, gazing at the stars and tuning into a mystical melody to encapsulate this evocative setting. Lancing residents, Beck Siàn and Jonathan Kershaw have got the perfect tune for you.

“I don’t know if we have a description of what the style is – we call it Celtic ghost folk fusion,” explains Jonathan.

Starting out as separate acoustic performers – Beck stepped in to help out Jonathan in a one-off show, but their talents appeared to meld perfectly and an unlikely joining transpired.

Jonathan continues: “We create our music together, which is a combination of Beck’s haunting ghostly folk ideas with my Celtic folk ideas and we meet somewhere together in the middle.”

Asking the obvious question of who they can compare themselves too, Beck takes a moment to think.

She says: “We’ve been asked this question and we’ve been struggling with the answer. The closest thing we’ve come up with is Kate Bush meets Blackmore’s Night with a bit of Marina McKenna thrown in.

“It’ s all about murder ballad and supernatural tales really (laughs).”

Kate Bush is a likely choice for Beck as she is in fact her cousin (Kate’s mother and Beck’s grandmother were sisters).

“She has been a huge influence on me and I was very lucky to have her brother John Carder Bush and nephew Raven Bush as guest performers on my last album, Ye Olde Silent Inn,” she says.

“I grew up in Australia, but when I first met Kate I was four years old, in 1978. I think she was dating Del Palmer then.

“When Wuthering Heights came out I could tell that my family were excited by this woman bouncing around on the TV set with a red flower in her hair and making all these wonderful strange faces, and singing in this high pitched banshee ghostly like song, and even though I was a little child I was just fascinated by her and also very jealous and wanting all the attention she was getting (laughs).”

Beck speaks candidly about following Kate’s career and mimicking her style.

“That was how I taught myself to sing, but for many years now it’s been important for me to find my own voice.”

The weird and wonderful world of whimsical music and surreal performances clearly runs through the family veins.

“I had an Irish grandmother who used to tell me stories of her encounters with ghosts and as a child that used to terrify me, but I was fascinated as well and it’s become a life-long fascination.

“I’m still very excited when I come across ghost stories and I love visiting haunted places. That’s why I’ve always been attracted to music of all different genres that have a ghostly theme.”

Jonathan adds: “A lot of the Celtic mythology that I find fascinating to read about is brought to the music. When you dig into history you tend to find there are fairly dark roots to it all.”

The duo have been performing across the country as well as the local circuit in Sussex. Now, they plan to collaborate on a new album together.

Last month they performed at the world’s largest gothic music festival in Germany and the two agreed that audiences have been very positive.

“Words like refreshing and unique come up a lot,” says Beck.

Jonathan adds: “People just say they weren’t expecting that and they hadn’t heard anything like that before, which is really pleasing to hear. We’re doing something fresh.”

To learn more about Beck and Jonathan’s new act, visit www.acoustic and get a taster for their haunting new sound.