Stealing Sheep
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Stealing Sheep

Liverpool, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | INDIE

Liverpool, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Alternative Pop


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"Guardian Album Review"

Stealing Sheep's debut album is a delightful bag of pick'n'mix. You can hear the twang of a Velvet Underground guitar here, a buzz of Ladytron synth there, often atop their fondness for creepy Wicker Man vocal harmonies. Yet the Liverpool trio of Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer have made a debut album that never feels incoherent, or as though it's reciting influences out loud for credibility. If anything, the psychedelic influences and lo-fi aesthetic position this record outside current trends. You can catch them doing what they do best on Rearrange, which starts off like a perky Britpop number before breaking out into a blissed-out refrain. Everything is thrown in here, including the kitchen sink, which they're quite possibly using as a makeshift glockenspiel. Yet what grabs you are the deft tricks played within the vocal harmonies and the restrained use of electronics. For all Stealing Sheep's maverick influences, it's the small details that stand out on this beguiling debut. - The Guardian

"Album Review 2015"

or those unfamiliar with the pagan-pop revival of 2012, Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer were the wildly imaginative Liverpudlian trio whose debut glistened amid the beige of the New Boring. For their second album, they’ve recalibrated their inherently odd music for a new visionary adventure: this time it’s less muddied by the woodland and more indebted to 1950s exotica – herein are fabricated, fantastical and wildly colourful imaginings about the future and the universe. A lot of existential questions are asked, but few answers are given, which only adds to the whirring charm of this curious music. From the dusty prog of This Time to funk, krautrock and folk, Stealing Sheep never stick to a singular sound – but the one constant is a slightly creepy quality; always beautiful but sometimes a little disconcerting. At a time where the word “random” has been diluted to mean anything from the genuinely surreal to a misplaced spoon, it’s a relief to find something so instinctively strange. - The Guardian

"Pitchfork Not Real Review 2015"

"Don't let the daylight fool you that you're not real," sings Lucy Mercer, opening the title cut from her band's second album with a mousy a capella. In those short seconds, the drummer and one of three vocalists in Stealing Sheep personifies a metaphor telling of the Liverpool trio. Here's a band that can give the simplest of sounds—such as a lone voice reciting innocent riddles—damn near psychedelic properties. Then, as if to drive the point home, "Not Real" jumps right into its peculiar arrangement of herky-jerky drums, warbly slide guitar, and a bassline with plenty of whimsical synth-pop coursing through its DNA. It's not disorienting so much as it's disarming, but throughout the song, you're really never too far from either pole.
For all of their idiosyncrasies, Stealing Sheep craft breezy, magnetic songs. The lyrics are bubblegum, practically demanding a sing-along whether you understand every curious line or not. And they're only made more hummable: Each dulcet harmony the trio coos in unison adds a candied memory of 1960s girl groups to the prismatic instrumentation underneath. As "Not Real" continues to blend its art-school inventiveness with AM radio nuggets, Mercer & Co. seem to be telling us, "Don't let the strangeness fool you that we're not pop." - Pitchfork

"Greed Track Premier Brooklyn Vegan"

Liverpool trio Stealing Sheep have shared "Greed" from the band's forthcoming sophomore album, Not Real, which is out next week via Heavenly. It's one of the standout cuts from what might be my favorite album of 2015 so far, a literal grower that starts off as a minimal, slow stomper but builds to a tribal mass by its end, with off-kilter harmonies and a theremin hook that sounds straight out of Ironside. Take a listen below.
For an idea of what Stealing Sheep are like live, check out a very cool performance of Not Real's title track shot at Vessel Studios in Liverpool, below as well. And let's hope we get to see them live in North America sooner than later. - Brooklyn Vegan

"Guardian Interview Feature"

“It’s all about perceptions and reality,” says Becky Hawley, the free spirited keyboardist in psych-folk trio Stealing Sheep, as she gazes ahead at the wild, weird dreamscapes full of fierce spirits and mysterious goddesses. We’re at Tate Liverpool, in the band’s home city, taking in the work of Lancashire-born surrealist Leonora Carrington, and the band are pleased to find that the painter’s themes echo their own music. “It’s that warping-reality thing,” Hawley says. “You think you’re looking at something, and then suddenly you look closer and you’re actually looking at something different.”

Stealing Sheep (No 1,308)
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Like Carrington’s paintings, Stealing Sheep’s music has a dreamlike feel and an existential edge. Their acclaimed 2012 debut Into The Diamond Sun landed them the rather dubious tag of “pagan folk”, thanks to its slightly medieval-sounding rhythms, sweet three-part harmonies and psychedelic glaze. But on album number two, Not Real, they’ve moved to an art-pop sound, with sharper hooks and shimmery synths. The psychedelic feel is still there; it’s just more modernist than Middle Ages.

Liverpool has long had a history of bands that sound like they’ve run their tongues along an endless tab of LSD, and many of the acts that rise out of it stick to its psych-rock template. But Stealing Sheep devour a broad range of styles, incorporating everything from the dark dance-pop of Grace Jones to the experimentation of Radiophonic Workshop pioneer Delia Derbyshire and John Carpenter soundtracks. The hypnotic track Greed echoes the Saharan folk rhythms of Tinariwen, while Evolve & Expand, says guitarist Emily Lansley, was written when they were listening to “a lot of exotica, like Les Baxter and Eden Ahbez. But none of us have ever wanted to go: ‘Oh, we’re going to write a tropicalia song now.’ It’s more [that we were] getting into the mood of things.”

As well as absorbing the avant-garde, they’re also interested in warping pop’s glossy sheen. Not Real is lo-fi and intricate, not lush and expansive. Hawley, the most vocal and theoretical of the three, cites Björk as the gold standard for subverting standard pop formulas. “She’s such a master of finding extraordinary ideas and putting them into a pop context. I like that idea of going: here’s a pop bassline, but what instrumentation can we use to make it sound interesting? Instead of using a drumkit, mic up some insects or something.”

“Or tramp on gravel,” dreamy drummer Lucy Mercer interjects.

Similarly, Not Real experiments with new textures, instruments and effects, spurred on by the fact that, this time around, they recorded and produced it themselves. The experience encouraged them to be both more exploratory and to focus their sound. “With a song like Greed,” says Lansley of their influences, “we were watching [Jodorowsky’s film] The Holy Mountain and we heard a lot of quite droney tracks, and that was something that we were into. We had bassoon and clarinet players on Apparition. And, on Not Real, we made my lap steel sound sort of sparkly, almost like a synth.”

The mixture of treated and organic sounds on the record echoes the album’s surreal themes. “Like, you can’t tell what’s the real drum or what’s Logic drumming,” says Lansley. She pauses and laughs. “We weren’t posing these questions on a daily basis, though. That’d be quite pretentious. [It’s not like we were] holding a guitar, going: ‘But is this really a guitar?’”

In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited review – David Coulter paints pictures with sound

In this musical tribute to avant-garde film director David Lynch, it's the most radical musical interpretations that succeed, writes John Lewis

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The trio’s creative exploration extends to their visual presentation: they shot their album sleeve, an optical-illusive tangle of their limbs, with photographer Charlotte Rutherford and collagist Louise Mason at their “pop factory”, Vessel Studio, where they also shoot their videos. Their work has attracted exciting collaborations from further afield, too. In 2010, they made music for a short film starring Tavi Gevinson, editor of young women’s magazine Rookie, directed by her sister Rivkah. Last year, meanwhile, they worked on a live soundtrack for Le Planète Sauvage, a stop-motion sci-fi film from 1973, and took part in the Barbican’s David Lynch musical tribute In Dreams, which they’ll rejoin on tour in November.


Back at Lansley’s flat, and given these forays into film, I ask if they’d be interested in soundtracking, say, a young adult blockbuster.

“I’d be up for doing anything”, says Hawley.

“I thought you said an adult film,” gasps Lansley. “I’d be really into that.”

“It’d be really abstract…” considers Hawley.

Lansley ponders this for a minute. “Yes, it’d be just shapes, coming in from the sky, and moving against each other. Ooh, that was erotic...”

Perhaps their artful playfulness is actually best summed up by the more safe-for-work Mythopoeia, the theatrical-musical-art spectaculars that the band have been running for the last two years. They’re taking it to Festival No 6 in September, and have pipe dreams about a Mythopoeia film, as well as plots for sound-sensitive clothing and other such stage wizardry at their gigs. “We were talking about how we wanted people to watch our gig and for it to be like an image – a sort of illusion,” says Lansley. “It’s evolving all the time.”

And 2015, as they remind me, is the year of the sheep in the Chinese calendar. What better time to warp reality their way? - The Guardian

"BBC Album Review"

It took The Pierces four albums to evolve from mistresses of knowing folky quirk into genuine contenders owing as much to peak-period Fleetwood Mac and The Bangles as Bat for Lashes and Kate Bush. It’s taken all-female trio Stealing Sheep a couple of EPs and this debut to make a similar journey. They eschew the Pierce sisters’ US west coast influences, but in one giant leap they’ve announced themselves as great prospects.
Stealing Sheep have been quietly building a reputation since forming in a Liverpool city centre café in 2010. Those EPs and a brace of sparkling singles whetted appetites and, with Lykke Li, Florence Welch and Regina Spektor edging into the mainstream, the musical sands have shifted their way.
Unashamedly folk-influenced, but much, much broader of palette, Stealing Sheep operate as Queen did before Innuendo, in that Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer contribute songs separately. Then (as with Queen, but there the similarities end), the group merge in the studio to shine and polish the rough diamonds.
Their calling card is simple in theory: divine harmonies which take in Swingle Singers-like fireworks on Shut Eye; pounding, hand-clappy percussion which resembles a military tattoo on White Lies; and lavishly layered melodies, even when The Garden threatens to turn into first a madrigal and then The Pierces’ Secret.
Others would leave it there and claim job done, but Stealing Sheep come back for more and it’s their ear for detail that makes them so potentially special. Circles sounds threatening and cheery in the same breath, but maverick enhancements abound, be it the startling brass which cascades through White Lies, the Krautrock keyboards which infuse Gold and the whole of Rearrange, which somehow finds room for a guitar solo surely inspired by Classical Gas.
They save the best until last with the outstanding Bear Tracks, which begins sparsely with drum and Lansley’s voice, before exploding into something altogether more symphonic. It factors in staggeringly beautiful, wordless harmonies, twangsome guitars, and more Can-style noodling before it pauses for breath and collapses into an Erik Satie-recalling piano coda. If they can pull this glorious folly together live, Stealing Sheep will be unstoppable. - BBC

"NME Album Review"

After Mediaeval Baebes, Gaggle, Kyla La Grange and PJ Harvey’s ‘Let England Shake’, it’s high time someone did the dark-ages folk thing without dressing for a dunking in 1143. The debut album from Liverpool girl-trio Stealing Sheep strips the style of all Wicker Man cheese and stuffs it full of modern relevance – Warpaint vocals, Kills garage licks, Stereolab synths, Doors-y psychedelia, Animal Collective apocalypto-tribalism and one song about being seriously shitted up by Jaws (‘Shark Song’: “In my dreams they walk on their fins…”). The brilliant tongue-twisty single ‘Shut Eye’, complete with an almost hip-hop pipe and tabor solo, could even be culled from an xx gig at the Globe, while ‘Rearrange’ resembles an insanely catchy cross between Gorillaz’ ‘Plastic Beach’ and Damon Albarn’s Renaissance opera ‘Dr Dee’. Just thank the lord, girls, that unlike in feudal England, livestock theft is no longer punishable by a right good tarring.

Eddie Smack
Read more at - NME


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Into The Diamond Sun  - Album (Heavenly Recordings) 


Not Real  - Album (Heavenly Recordings) 




Stealing Sheep's acclaimed 2012 debut, 'Into the Diamond Sun', morphed their individual styles to create a 'medieval-kraut-folk' inspired sound. They were described as an unanticipated 'pagan pop revival' and since its release have toured as guests of Postal Service and Alt-J, opened for St.Vincent in Paris, performed the songs of David Lynch at the Barbican and collaborated with the Radiophonic Workshop on an original soundtrack to the cult 70's science fiction film ‘La Planete Sauvage'.

For second album Not Real they have concentrated on developing the sonic aesthetic of their music. “We were more focused about what we are trying to do. Everything has a reason for being there.” They've experimented with tuned percussion, programmed beats, trigger samples and worked with effected synths, utilising the guitar and lap steel more sparingly and introducing more processed sounds. They’ve drawn inspiration from 50's exotica, electronic music and 80's pop and been influenced by the likes of Grace Jones, Maya Deren, Eden Ahbez, Delia Derbyshire, Moon Dog and John Carpenter. 

 Having learned new skills in the studio over the last few years, the band self-produced the album. They used the studio not only as a writing tool but also as an instrument; experimenting with post-production and varying instrumentation and layered textures. “We started off in pre-production doing all the demos ourselves” say's Becky “the demos captured an atmosphere that we wanted to carry forward to the album. The result was a hypbrid of casual takes and more considered recordings.”


Their visual representation is highly important to the band, all of whom have art backgrounds. “We like to be involved in all the aspects of the presentation because it's symbiotic to the music.” The colourful and organic album cover, a collaboration between photographer Charlotte Rutherford and collage artist Louise Mason, shows their confident image for this record: as they tread the lines of surreal pop. Follow them on a hypnagogic journey as they sing: “listen to yourself and look within”.

Their sound is identified by their unique vocal styles, their old school keyboards, distinctive whammy guitar sounds and a variety of unusual percussive elements. With sonic inspiration from the likes of Bernard Herrmann, John Carpenter, Broadcast, Can, Eden Abhez, Grimes, Matthew Herbert and MoonDog... it's no surprise they have an eccentric mix. 

They are currently busy in the studio working on a new album soon released early 2015 (which also happens to be the Chinese year of the sheep!) In 2014 they took a break from recording to perform as part of the David Lynch ‘IN DREAMS’ show at London’s Barbican with an ensemble cast including Jehnny Beth from Savages and Bad Seed Mick Harvey. In addition they also played festival sets in the UK and performed a specially commissioned score for the cult 70’s film Fantastic Planet alongside members of legendary The Radiophonic Workshop at the Branchage Film Festival.

Band Members