Antoine Architeuthis and Owena Archer met at a gig in Salisbury in 2017.
Antoine: “Owena was playing with in a mutual friend’s band and I was doing a solo performance and we both liked what the other one was doing. We met up after the show and decided to get together and jam and the rest is history.”
Owena: “I was just guesting but I wasn’t really playing in a band so it worked out well.
Owena is a Salisbury native but Antoine is a secret Northerner. “I originate from Doncaster and the song ‘Northern Man’ is about my childhood. I moved down to Sussex with my parents when I was about eleven but for about eight years now I’ve lived in Salisbury.”
Their love of folk music came from very different directions. Antoine is also a qualified scuba instructor and spent some time in Bali, training and learning the language. “I credit that with my transition into folk music. Before I went there I was very much into heavy rock and when I came back I started listening to folk music and, to this day, I don’t know why.” “You probably went too deep”, observes Owena. In case you’re wondering, Architeuthis isn’t Antoine’s real name – more a diver’s nickname. His real name is a closely guarded secret.
Owena’s story is rather more conventional. “My parents both liked folk music and my brother went to a scout camp in Scotland and came home with a Capercaillie CD and I got into Oysterband and Levellers from that. I played in various folk bands since I was fourteen with my brothers, then I was in Taliesin and we won the first Wiltshire Young Folk Musicians of the Year Award in 1997. I had free lessons as part of a project at school and was given a viola but I swapped from the classical style and my mum bought me a violin and a Thomas Hardy tune book for my birthday. I was getting restless with the viola.”
“I was still exploring folk styles when we started working together”, says Antoine, and a lot of my early writing and performing was very rock influenced but when I started playing with Wen it helped my transition. A lot of our stuff still has few rock elements to it.”
Antoine and Owena squeezed in the launch gig for their second album, Something Out Of Nothing, just a week before the first lockdown and then everything went dark just as it seemed that they were on the point of expanding their horizons and their audience. How have they dealt with that?
Owena: “It’s been tough. We met up just to keep going when we were allowed to meet so we’ve had quite a lot of rehearsals. We’d just launched our album and had loads of gigs and festivals lined up to promote our new record and they were all cancelled. Luckily most have been rebooked for next year – fingers crossed.” Antoine echoes Owena’s frustration. “It was a brilliant night. We hired a church and got a whole sound crew in. We were there from about 10 am testing everything because it was the first gig we put on ourselves. It was a big task but it couldn’t have gone better: it was packed out and playing in a church is just lovely.”
They haven’t been idle, of course. Owena: “We’ve managed to record a few tracks and gigs and bits and pieces live. We’ve tried a few live streams but it’s not the same as having an audience there.” Antoine: “We’ve probably got another album’s worth of material ready, a couple more songs and we’re probably there” and Owena agrees. “We’ve just got to promote the old one first.”
Artists’ website: https://antoineandowena.co.uk/
Read Dai Jeffries’ review of Something Out Of Nothing here.
‘Botany Bay’ – official video: