Green Gardens: ‘HelpMusicians’ funding felt like a massive vote of confidence in our music’

Five years on from forming as a four-piece while students at Leeds Conservatoire, Green Gardens are continuing their musical evolution.

Green Gardens

New single Home in the Books follows an early double single and an EP, Sauna, Teach Me How to Breathe, which was released in the midst of last year’s lockdown.

“This single was written at the start of lockdown,” says Jacob Cracknell, who writes the band’s songs alongside Chris Aitchison. Quickly realising they were free from other distractions, the pair decided to concentrate on crafting news songs. “To take a positive out of it, it felt like what it would be like to be a full-time songwriter as far as there was nothing else in the way.”

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The situation, he says, “leaked into their writing”.

“We both independently ended up writing quite similar things. We ended up writing stories and fables in our lyrics, which I don’t think we meant to at all.

“We lived in a tiny old house in the middle of Headingley and I think we accidentally synchronised.”

Home in the Books, they say, is a meditation on “posterity, and of the last year, looking both back and forward to what we as people and part of a society can leave behind”.

The band plan a series of releases this year, and are grateful for support from the HelpMusicians Do It Differently Fund as well as backing from Music:Leeds Brighter Sound, Launchpad and MAS Records.

“HelpMusicians’ funding has been a massive thing for us,” says Cracknell. “It’s the first time we’ve really had funding like that. It felt like a massive vote of confidence in the music that we’ve got.

“After we released the last EP, which went well locally but we were hopeful for a bit more. That funding will help us record and release all this music without having to dip into our own pockets which we couldn’t afford to do at this point because of things like lack of gigging.

“It gave us a lot more freedom and a lot more time to think about these songs. Before we’ve always been at the mercy of studio time. We love going into the studio but if you’re going, ‘Right, you’ve got two days and this song’s as good as it can be but you don’t know how you’re getting there’, you’ve got no time to ponder and sit on things.

“What we did with these songs is we went into Greenmount Studios (in Armley, Leeds) to do the tracking, to get this lively, raw sound that we’re all into at the moment. Then we took those tracking mixes home and worked on them for months and months, tweaking and adding little bits and taking away, being really meticulous with it.

“What we’ve ended up with, we hope, is energetic because of the live tracking but also still really composed and thoughtful, which is something that the funding has allowed us to do because we’ve got the money to spend a bit more time in the studio now. But also we can now get it mixed separately, we don’t have to do it all in a chunk. It’s bought us a lot of time, more than anything, which is nice.”

Working with experienced producer Jamie Lockhart has, Cracknell feels, “made a lot of these songs what they are”.

“He’s obviously amazing at making things sound good in the production of it, but it’s also just having his ears on it,” he says. “We’re quite close to Jamie now. We share a lot of influences and we like a lot of the same music. We love his band (Mi Mye). Having him there, we have complete trust in him – for instance, there was a song that we loved but we weren’t sure how it was going to end up and he basically turned it on its head, he heard one thing and got excited and enthusiastic about it and flipped it on its head, and we were like, ‘this is 100 times better, why didn’t we think of that?’”

Having recently performed at the Great Escape Launchpad stage at the Brudenell Social Club and a socially distanced show at the Adelphi in Hull, Green Gardens have tentative plans for more gigs in the next few months. “We have some unannounced things with Leeds bands that we’re so looking forward to,” says Cracknell. “Everything crossed that they go ahead. We also have some festivals, we’re (due to) play at Wild Paths in Norwich, which is where I was born, and we’re supporting Van Houten at the Belgrave Music Hall (in Leeds) which will be really fun.”

Home in the Books is out Now.