Diving Station on bringing the harp to the fore and receiving airplay from famous faces

Ahead of next month’s Free Vibes with Manuka Hive, Wildfires, Diving Station and Paige Kennedy, we had the pleasure of speaking to Diving Station about their debut EP, tastes and aesthetic. Led by harpist and vocalist Anna McLuckie, the Manchester-based four-piece write delicate and dynamic songs, brimful with melody and layered with subtle rhythm. Fans of The Antlers, Alela Diane or Colour the Atlas will no doubt appreciate their accomplished writing and assured performance. Each band member is active away from the group: bassist George Burrage and guitarist Sean Rogan having both performed at Brighter Sound’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Manchester Hill, and they’re readying the release of new material that we hope to hear this year.

It’s almost 18 months since you released Alice, an incredibly accomplished and well received debut EP. How has the response to the record been and what’s the furthest a CD copy has travelled since release?

Anna: ‘We are incredibly grateful for the positive response to Alice, I think it’s always hard to know what will happen with a first release, especially if you are doing it independently. It’s crazy to think how many different countries around the world it seems to have reached, the furthest probably being from Japan and Hong Kong. I just find it hard to imagine someone in Hong Kong listening to something we dreamt up in a mouldy Manchester practice room!’

Guy Garvey played some of your music on his 6Music show not too long ago and you were able to thank him in person shortly thereafter! Is it reassuring to know that artists who’ve achieved major success are looking out for those who’re breaking through?

Anna: ‘It’s incredibly reassuring, yes! I think a lot of the time they must remember the struggle themselves and maybe take pleasure in being able to return the favour that was once offered to them by someone in the industry back when they were starting out.’

Aside from the likes of Joanna Newsom, Natalie Lurie and Low Leaf, there aren’t many contemporary artists using the harp in a pop context. Who or what encouraged you that it was possible and musically rewarding to do so?

Anna: ‘For me personally I think I have just never seen it as any different to a guitar or a piano. I don’t really see it as being limited to one genre or style and I often write on piano then transfer it onto harp afterwards which allows me to experiment quite a lot. There’s a few indie pop harpists emerging at the moment which is really interesting. Mikaela Davis is really breaking that scene by playing shows with The Staves and Bon Iver which is very inspiring to watch.’

The group and its members have been a part of some amazing music projects in Manchester. What have been your musical highlights away from the band?

Anna: ‘We all do a lot of different projects alongside Diving Station which helps give the band it’s many influences. For me personally I have recently been doing work with the electronic artist Hunrosa which I am really enjoying and I’m excited to see where that all goes!’

You played at Bluedot festival last year – a really unique festival setting. What was it like to be involved and did you manage to see any other acts before or after playing?

Anna: ‘Oh yeah we made a whole weekend of it! It was great to be involved and we were incredibly grateful to be asked. I think our favourite sets came from Anna Meredith, Alt- J and The Pixies as they are all artists we have admired for a while.’

What’s next for the group, have you any forthcoming recordings, plans to hit the studio or play some more shows?

Anna: ‘We are planning a big release and a tour for the end of this year which we are very excited about! After the release of Alice we have been constantly writing and waiting for the right time to show everyone what we have been working on. We feel this next release is a slightly gutsier, darker Diving Station than heard on Alice and we are excited to see how this is received.’

Photo: Philippe Monthoux