CLASS ACT: Tunng Explains How There’s More to Folk Music Than Flowery Dresses and Facial Hair

What is folk music really? A simple explanation, by Sam Genders of the UK group Tunng.

1. On beards and jumpers.
Several members of our band do in fact own one or more of each of these. It’s often said that the close proximity of the two items creates a harmonic resonance audible only to waif-like girls in flowery dresses. Research to date has been inconclusive.

2. On pop and telly.
Folk music and folklore is really just pop music and telly from before 1936. Humanity falls into the same old traps and revels in the same joys across generations. It’s just that, these days, the chords are harder.

3. On pissing off the old school.
I think someone who once owned a Cecil Sharpe memorabilia tea towel said they didn’t like our album, and the next thing we know, we’re at the heart of a full-on blazing journo-war in the tradition of Dylan vs. Seeger. Except it never happened. Live and let live is our moto, and there are only two types of music: good and bad.

4. On not really being a folk band, actually.
We love the best folk music out there, but [band member] Mike [Lindsay’s] production is utterly modern, and I think there’s loads of other influences in what we do. People tend to get a bit of a shock when they see us live because the show is steeped in beats and sub-bass.

5. On there being six of us.
Our new record, Good Arrows (Thrill Jockey), is the result of the six-piece band we now are and all the influences and ideas that come along with that. Someone is always saying something that will trigger an idea in a dark corner of your brain.

6. On not really minding what people call us.
Sticks and stones may break our bones. I’m not sure what folk music really is and how much we have to do with it, but we really are having a lovely time.

MP3: “Tale From Black”

MP3: “Woodcat”

MP3: “Bricks”

Video: “Bullets”