You are a singer songwriter, how did it all begin for you?
I started playing guitar in my earlier teens. It became a passion and a few years later I ended up as a “go-for” at Park Gate Recording Studios in Catsfield. There I met producer and arranger, Tim Cross (Mike Oldfield, The Adverts, TV Smith, Dana Gillespie, Doll-By-Doll, The Skids, Hall & Oates) and over a 22-year period we worked on various music projects for TV and Radio. Tim passed away in 2012.
I started writing and playing live again as a solo artist in 2013 and a few years later went to Brighton Road Recording Studios to record a set of songs which became an album called How That Dust Jumps. Simon Yapp did some session work on that album, providing fiddle and vocal harmonies and we have been working together ever since, playing over 200 gigs so far and forming Ian Roland & The Subtown Set.
Tell us about Ian Roland & The Subtown Set.
For live gigs, we now play as a trio. There’s myself, Ian Roland, on lead vocals and guitars. There’s Simon Yapp, on violin and vocals. And there’s Jade Woodhouse, on cello and vocals. We play original Roots and Contemporary Folk, with a nod to the classical and an embrace of three-part harmonies. We are based in Brighton, UK.
We have supported acts such as Martin Simpson, The Black Feathers, Stick In The Wheel, TV Smith, Boo Hewerdine.
The following musicians joined us for the recording of our recent album, Double Rainbow:
Nick VanVlanderan – drums
Ruby Rose – vocals
Brione Jackson – cello, vocals
Congratulations on the release of “Double Rainbow”. What’s the story behind it?
Double Rainbow is made up of 11 tracks engineered by Séadna McPhail and mastered by Alan Lowles at Airtight Studios, Manchester. Initial recordings were made at Simon Yapp’s studio, Subtown Studios, in Brighton, hence the band’s name: Ian Roland & The Subtown Set. Producer Nigel Stonier (Thea Gilmore, The Waterboys, Joan Baez, Martha Wainwright, Fairport Convention) helped us with the production of six tracks on the album, which were initially released as EPs: Day Became You (2017) and The Valley (2018).
We played an in-store at Union Music Store, Lewes on Sat 29th Feb 2020 to mark our debut album release and filmed a video for Double Rainbow – followed by a live session on Doug Welch’s Folk Show for BBC Radio Kent.
Danny Wilson (Grand Drive, Danny & The Champions of The World, Bennett Wilson Poole), joint owner of the Union Music Store record shop, also makes an appearance in the video towards the end.
Your sound is a mix of roots, and folk, who are your personal influences?
There’s a wide mix of musical influences in the band ranging from 70’s Folk through to Classical music and Soul.
My favourite artists include Cat Stevens, The Kinks, John Prine, The Waterboys, Fleet Foxes, Jason Isbell, Neil Young, Sarah Jarosz, Josienne Clarke.
Lockdown has been hard on the music industry at large, what’s kept you going during this period?
I have been writing new songs and we are about to start recording again.
You are based in Brighton, a city known for its artsy bohemian roots as much as its beach and rock. What are your three favourite things about Brighton?
- It’s a welcoming, accepting and all-embracing city.
- It’s by the sea and close to the South Downs National Park.
- It has good pubs and a lively music scene.
What local bands/artists would you recommend?
You record at Subtown Studios, what’s your favourite thing about recording there?
Subtown Studios is owned and run by our violinist, Simon Yapp. It’s a great studio in the basement of a Regency building in Kemptown, Brighton and it goes a fair way underground. We rehearse and record there and it’s where we recorded the demos and some final track versions for our recent Double Rainbow album. We are looking forward to recording some new songs there very soon.