interview. Humm’s Melodic Alchemy: Unveiling ‘Danced Alone (who I am when I’m in love)’

"I worked hard on every lyric to make sure they all shared that same message of trust within yourself, a hard thing to have when you’re recovering from a heartbreak"
22 November 2023

Hailing from Bath, the contemporary folk duo Humm has recently unveiled their latest single, Danced Alone (who I am when I’m in love). Since their establishment in 2018, the duo, consisting of the skilled artists Arty Jackson and Carys Lewin, has artfully fused melodic finger-style guitar, ethereal vocals, and rich harmonium drones to create genre-defining tracks that are both melodious and anthemic.

The duo’s unique sound captures the essence of nature, folklore, and Cornish fairy tales in every song, earning them a special place in the contemporary folk scene. Recently chosen as one of four acts to visit, write, and perform at Sir Paul & Mike McCartney’s childhood home, 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool as part of The Forthlin Sessions, Humm continues to leave an indelible mark on audiences with their captivating performances.

Drawing inspiration from a diverse range of artists such as Richard Thompson, Joni Mitchell, Eels, Radiohead, and XTC, Humm has successfully woven traditional and contemporary styles to create a signature sound that resonates with fans worldwide. At the heart of their music is a deep connection to nature, evident in their conversational melodies and wistful instrumentation, which breathe life into their earnest lyrics.

Building on the rejoice of their latest track, Mother Nature’s Lost Love, Humm’s ​n​ew release, Danced Alone (who I am when I’m in love), seamlessly intertwines beautiful harmonies, gracefully compelling guitar lines, and evocative lyrics. Crafted under the expert hands of producer Josh Clark at Get Real Audio, the single delves into the themes of self-love, introspection, and a profound appreciation for the wisdom gained from complex relationships.

In our recent interview with the enchanting duo, we delved into the inspiration behind their new song. They shared insights into the meaning behind Danced Alone (who I am when I’m in love), the experience of performing at Sir Paul & Mike McCartney’s childhood home, and the influence of Cornish fairy tales on their music. The interview unveils the passion and creativity that drives Humm’s music, offering a glimpse into the artistic minds behind the harmonious tapestry they weave.

Through Danced Alone (who I am when I’m in love), Humm undeniably persists in offering music that captivates with enchantment and profound resonance. Brace yourself to traverse a musical odyssey that surpasses conventional boundaries, beckoning you into the soulful realm of Humm.

I worked hard on every lyric to make sure they all shared that same message of trust within yourself, a hard thing to have when you’re recovering from a heartbreak.

Can you give us a sneak peek into the inspiration behind your new song “Danced Alone (who I am when I’m in love). 

~ Arty: At the time, The Kinks were heavily on my mind, especially the song “Afternoon Tea”. The chords, melody and initial vibe were largely inspired from the verse of this song.

~ Carys: Arty and I had a really lovely conversation about finding ourselves after a relationship as we’d both just been through a breakup. This song came from that conversation and helped me to rationalise my pain and find some love for myself.

In your description of “Danced Alone,” you mention it’s a love letter to the newly lonely, exploring the difficulties of losing oneself within a relationship. Can you elaborate on how the song navigates these themes and what message you hope listeners take away from it? 

~ Carys: The message of this song is ultimately to love yourself, find joy in the little things and listen to your gut. I worked hard on every lyric to make sure they all shared that same message of trust within yourself, a hard thing to have when you’re recovering from a heartbreak. The way the song builds from almost spoken word to passionate melody into the chorus is my way of showing these complicated themes in a simple way.

Working with Josh Clark at Get Real Audio for your upcoming single, how did the collaboration impact the production, mixing, and mastering process? What do you believe Clark brought to the table in enhancing your musical vision? 

Josh helped navigate the vibes and intentions of the song. We had a range of ideas and extra parts for the song, Josh was great at picking out the ones that really worked and designing the feel for the song. 

Josh also helped write the harmonium part which I knew I needed in there somewhere. He helped us give the song exactly what it needed and we appreciate him endlessly! 

Being chosen to visit, write, and perform at Sir Paul & Mike McCartney’s childhood home is quite an accomplishment. Can you share your experience of The Forthlin Sessions and how it has influenced your music? 

The Forthlin Sessions were such a surreal and rewarding experience. After being fortunate enough to win a competition set by The National Trust we were given a private tour of Paul Mccartney’s childhood home. We were then set free to explore and write a song inspired by the house. We also met Mike McCartney and got a great insight into his amazing photography. 

The whole experience opened our eyes even wider to what music can truly mean to people and how it can grow within any environment. We are forever grateful for our wonderful Forthlin Sessions experience. 

Your influences range from Richard Thompson and Joni Mitchell to Eels, Radiohead, and XTC. How do these diverse inspirations contribute to the fusion of traditional and contemporary styles in your music?

It’s hard to be obsessed with music enough to want to pursue it as a career, without personally exploring the incredibly diverse world of music. 

The influence of all the music we listen to, mostly does not have a conscious impact when we songwrite. But it’s definitely there. 

Our sound and style is largely dictated by the fact we perform with folk instruments, though the emotion, lyrics, melodies and chords fall naturally from a big mixing pot of everything we listen to – just translated into an acoustic guitar, harmonium and two vocals. 

Nature seems to play a significant role in your music. How does the presence of nature influence your songwriting, and how do you weave elements of folklore and Cornish fairy tales into your tracks? 

~ Carys: I’ve always been passionate about nature as I was lucky enough to grow up in Cornwall amongst the beautiful countryside. It’s always been a massive part of my life and at the heart of my family home. Cornish traditions, language, stories/folktales and songs were all taught to me in primary school, which was my favourite part of the term.

If you found yourself marooned on a deserted island, which three albums would you wish to discover washed up on the shore? 

~ Arty: Joanna Newsom – Have one on me 

Mark Hollis – Self Titled 

XTC – Apple Venus Vol 1 

~ Carys: Joni Mitchell – Hejira 

The Decemberists – The Hazards of love 

Eels – Electro-shock Blues 

If you could tour with any musicians, dead or alive, who would it be and why? 

~Arty: To play alongside some of my folk heroes like Bert Jansch or John Martyn would be something special. At least I can learn from them and their musicianship, but in general it would be such a magical experience. 

~Carys: I 100% agree with Arty! Bert Jansch and John Martyn would be incredible people to tour with. But for me my ultimate dream would be to tour with Joni Mitchell. Even just to meet her would be incredible.  

What was the first album you purchased?

~ Arty: Room on the 3rd floor – Mcfly

~ Carys: 19 – Adele