After a much felt two-year hiatus the dreamy champion of new folk is back. That’s right the golden-haired Johnny Flynn is back with a new album and ready to tour. The past 730 days haven’t been as quiet as you might imagine for Mr Flynn and instead of taking some much deserved rest he’s been focussing on another of his talents: acting. Whether it’s treading the boards with Stephen Fry at the Globe Theatre or imagining himself as a young entrepreneur at the Royal Court, Flynn has been flexing his theatre muscles and keeping those all important vocal chords in shape.
But this month we’re welcoming back the Mr Flynn we fell in love with. He’s reunited with his band The Sussex Wit and has already been charming the pants off festivals around the UK including Gentlemen of the Road Takeover, Larmer Tree Festival and Green Man. We stole some time with the creative young man to talk folk revivals, English countryside and changing nappies.
When you first came into the music scene you were part of the ‘folk revival’ – how would you describe your music now? And do you still see yourself as being part of the folk scene?
I don’t know – I just played in bands with friends and ended up doing my own stuff. I didn’t think of it as folk or a scene or a revival. I still don’t – that was just what some media projected onto it. I guess the type of music me and my friends made was communicative in the spirit of folk music and it was fun to play together or put on nights where we could hang out and play and listen to each other. It seemed a pretty natural thing to do. I don’t have any other thoughts on what it was. I don’t think of my music as folk music because that word is confusing and has a broad spread of connotations. I listen to a lot of folk music or at least music that people would call folk music. Traditional songs and field recordings and some of those melodies and sensibilities probably filter into my songs through me. But I just see them as songs. I really don’t like to limit what we do and who we are to being a ‘folk band’. But people can call us whatever they want.
You’ve always been seen as very English – do you still identify your music as being inspired by the English countryside and traditional music?
Sort of. I live in England but I grew up in Wales and my father was of Irish descent but he grew up in China. My Mum grew up in South Africa and her parents were Scottish and Welsh. So I’m not especially English. I think the far flung gene pool I come from and the sense of that past has as much an influence on me as my Englishness. I enjoy tapping into the consciousness of places I’m in so the ‘traditional’ inspiration comes from scratching the surface of places I visit.
How is this new album a continuation from your last?
It’s a bunch of new songs written by the same person 3 or 4 years later. That’s probably some kind of continuation. You can hear its the same person but I think it sounds fresh too.
You’ve also done alot of acting – Jerusalem and at the Globe – do you hope to do an equal amount of both still?
Yup. I just take each project as it comes. I don’t like to think too far ahead.
How did having children effect your music?
It affects everything you do and are so it affects your music – it’s hard to tell quite how at the moment but apart from anything else I have less time now so I have to be organised if I want to get to the studio or have an hour with my guitar – I need to find a babysitter. It has also made music really fun again – messing around playing fiddle for my son while he dances around and seeing it through his perspective as a purely joyful thing.
What do you most love about touring?
Hanging out with my friends. Hearing what new music I’ve missed while I’ve been changing nappies.
What are your must-haves when you’re on the road?
Travel pillow, ear plugs, notebook.
What do you do on your days off?
I can’t remember having a day off.
Find out more about Johnny Flynn’s new album, here.