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Shoreline's Debut Washes Up on the Beach

Tom Cowan of Willkommen Collective talks about the beautiful Time Well Spent.

Time Well Spent, the gorgeous debut from Brighton folk ensemble Shoreline, came out last week. I emailed some questions to founder Tom Cowan.

Dazed Digital: What is the Willkommen Collective?
Tom Cowan: The Willkommen Collective is based around a group of players in Brighton and London who all play in  each other's bands, record on each other's albums and love each other's music. Shoreline is the mother band of the Willkommen Collective - the first group uniting all the players together. Subsequently other bands have grown from it  creating an ever expanding array of great music. And from this we have recently set up our own record label, Willkommen Records.

DD: How did it start?
TC: It all started when I moved to Brighton in the summer of 2006. I became involved with local musicians, initially with the very talented William Calderbank (cellist in every band in Willlkommen, also a dab hand on the keys!). I already knew Jacob Richardson (Sons of Noel and Adrian) as we have been friends for over a decade and Nick Hemming (The Leisure Society) as we all hail from the same town, Burton on Trent. I met the delightful Beatrice Sanjust di Teulada whilst visiting Rome one September and our musical friendship spawned the beginnings of Shoreline.

DD: Why the sea theme to the lyrics?
TC: I grew up in a town far, far away from the sea. One year my best friend Jacob Richardson left that little town and went to study photography down in Falmouth, Cornwall. I'd speak to him about what it was like down there and I felt this great magnetism towards the ocean and the coast. I felt like a part of me had been taken away when he left, but there was another part of me that began to grow and fill the void and that was where these sea shanty songs were born from. It seems fitting that i now live in Brighton.  Although I have developed a strong disliking for sea birds.

DD: As a Brighton resident, why do you think so many piers keep catching on fire all over England?
TC: It's carelessness. People aren't looking after their history as they should be.  We let our great buildings, monuments and piers fall to rack and ruin. Go to Paris and see how they treat their buildings and you can see the difference. Or it's just bad luck. I remember as a child being terrified of crossing each slat on piers, with the waves crashing and slopping around below. Now I enjoy the experience.

I'll tell you something, though. Brighton's West Pier is ten times better than the grotto built on the new one. It's a magnificent decaying tribute to its time and must be the most photographed in the country.  Maybe burnt out piers are more popular because they show us how nothing can last for ever but that we can all enjoy the past with a sentimental longing that preserves our national character. Time were good back then we think. Look what we have now.

DD: What's your favourite folk album ever?
TC: My favourite music changes all the time but recently i have been listening to Sam Amidon's "All is Well".  A record that really put me back in touch with a love for music that so many new releases leave me cold to.

DD: There are 17 different musicians listed in the liner notes. Have they ever been in one room together?
TC: No. It's too much for even my logistical mind to arrange.