The Unthanks

Agent: Chris Colbourn

“They make my heart beat faster. I’m glad to be around at the same time as them.” Martin Freeman

“They run from the root of folk music to the very tip of the branch.” Elvis Costello

Who are The Unthanks?! !

“Music that asks you to consider everything you know and un-think it”..”their take on tradition flips so effortlessly between jazz, classical, ambient and post-rock makes any attempt to put a label on them a waste of time”..”In a field of one”.. these are just some of the things written in response to
last year’s Mount the Air by The Unthanks.

There are no easy one-liners to capture who or what The Unthanks are. You might find them singing in a folk club one night, and playing to 2500 Londoners at the Roundhouse the next, having performed to a primary school in the afternoon. Rubbing shoulders with Robert Plant, Adele, Elbow and Radiohead at the Mercurys, or in a bunkhouse on the coastline of Northumberland cooking for 50 fans on one of their residential singing weekends. Or visiting Africa with Damon Albarn, Flea and Joan As Policewoman and then presenting a TV programme for BBC4 about traditional dance. Spending 9-5 managing their own careers without agents or labels, and heading down the studio in the evening to write scores for a project with a symphony orchestra. Collaborating with champion brass bands, members of Portishead, Sting, Lau, Martin Hayes, The Voice Squad or Orbital while championing songs from the folk club floor singers of the North East of England and re-presenting them to anyone who wants to listen. For every glamorous accolade, there is a counterpoint of uncommon, grounded integrity.

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Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2008 and the only British folk representation in The Guardian’s and Uncut’s best albums of last decade (worldwide, all genres), The Unthanks have an army of notable fans, including actor Martin Freeman, Elvis Costello, Colin Firth, Robert Wyatt, Ben Folds, Ryan Adams, Rosanne Cash, members of Portishead and Radiohead, Dawn French, Paul Morley, Ewan McGregor, Ade Edmondson and Nick Hornby. The Unthanks is a family affair for Tyneside sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank, with Rachel married to pianist, producer, arranger and composer, Adrian McNally. Using the traditional music of the North East of England as a starting point, the influence of
Steve Reich, Miles Davis, Sufjan Stevens, Robert Wyatt, Antony & The Johnsons, King Crimson and Tom Waits can be heard in the band’s 8 albums to date, including Mount The Air, released to huge critical acclaim last year.

Their is a socially conscious heart to much of The Unthanks’ work. The Unthanks see folk music less as a style of music and more as a oral history that offers perspective on our own time. Their approach to storytelling straddles the complex relationship between modernism and learning from the past. Staunch traditionalism and sonic adventure may seem like polar opposites, yet they are easy bedfellows in the gentle hands of The Unthanks.

2016 has seen The Unthanks join the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra for a premiere symphony performance, taking pianist Adrian McNally’s role as writer and arranger for The Unthanks to new heights.
“Rachel and Becky’s voices are one of the true wonders of 21st-century music” NME

‘Intimate, epic, overflowing with feeling and musical intelligence’ The Independent

“It’s quite a rare thing now. It’s really got everything you could want from music. And
I’m very fussy.” Robert Wyatt

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