Q&A with Folk Duo, Burr Island

London-based folk duo Burr Island, formed by best friends Tom England and Oskar Porter, recently released their poignant single ‘Our Home’ on March 1st, 2024, via Left Foot Records. With praise from industry giants like Robert Plant and Noel Gallagher, and 250,000 streams across their first four releases, the duo’s debut album is eagerly anticipated in 2024. Their music has earned acclaim from BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 2, BBC Introducing, and Radio X.

Join us in an exclusive interview with Burr Island as we delve into their creative journey, influences, and what’s next for the duo.

Tell us about you, how long have you been producing music? What inspired you to start? 

Tom’s been writing music since he was about 13/14 years old and from when we met each other on an acting course, at 18, to where we are now, singing, workshopping, and creating songs together have forever been a huge part of our friendship. During lockdown, we would write music endlessly and it was at that point we started to realize that we can actually make something of this.

The music industry is super competitive these days, was there a moment in your life that you wanted to give up on music?  How did you manage to stay focused and achieve what you want? 

We’re still very new to it all, to be honest, and we don’t think of the space as competitive. Everyone is doing their own thing. Yeah, we all have our own ‘product to sell’ but, for us, that’s such an unhelpful way of thinking. We stay focused because we love the process of writing and believe in ourselves so much that it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing.

How would you describe your creative processes? Who writes the lyrics to the songs? Are the music and lyrics written in conjunction, or separately?  

Tom is always writing and there’s never a time when we don’t have a new song to work on. The process is the most important part of the ‘job’ for us. We don’t like to set any rules in terms of who writes the lyrics; sometimes we write separately, sometimes together. The general rule for us is to have no rules when it comes to songwriting. It doesn’t help us to force a structure into creativity. Sometimes the lyrics influence the music and vice versa.

Where did the inspiration come from? 

Tom was playing ‘Never Going Back Again’, Fleetwood Mac, on guitar and then started playing other simple chords with one of the travis picking techniques they use, adding a bit more swing. The idea was to write a song that simply spreads love and positivity through depicting the abundance of life, whether that be the beauty of the natural world or the power of connection with others.

What’s your favourite track from the upcoming album and what other bands/artists are you listening to right now?  

A very difficult question… our favourite track is usually the one we are working on at the time. We’re very proud of the atmosphere we create on our next release ‘Later’. The final single we’ll release before the album is out is a bit out there compared to our other songs, so we’re excited for that one too! ‘English Roses’, released last year, is one that holds a powerful message that has spoken to a lot of people.

 What’s next for you?

We’re currently on tour with The Blow Monkeys!