Exposure is a scrapbook of our favourite new bands. Today's exposure features Sheffield based acoustic artist, The Half Earth (including an interview with Conor Stephenson).

  • Name: The Half Earth
  • Location: Sheffield via Blackpool
  • Genre: Acoustic folk
  • For Fans of: Bon Iver, Daughter
  • Website: Facebook

The Half Earth is a solo project curated by Blackpool-cum-Sheffield-artist Conor Stephenson. And like the name the for his project suggests, it's an ethereal and rustic project, as heard on stand out songs 'Fox' and 'Counting'.

The lilting, atmospheric instrumentation acts as incubation for simple yet affecting lyrical themes and Stephenson's fragile vocals. Essentially, the make up of the Half Earth, from these lyrics to the soundscapes act keenly in symbiosis, helping to create a project with is solid and relatable without losing that specialist independent touch that many upcoming acoustic artists worriedly ponder over: will I be the next Bon Iver or Ed Sheeran? Thankfully, Stephenson needn't be quaking in his boots as his direction stays firmly with the former's lane, though he is carving his own a-road. We chatted to him about how he's spent the last 3 years of his life, his ridiculously cool parents and most importantly, where future plans for the Half Earth lie.

Give us a bit of biographical info about yourself.

My name is Conor, I'm from Blackpool but I spent the last 3 years in Sheffield studying for a degree in Chemistry. It was hard.

Was your household pretty musical or did you strike out on your own?

My family are really musical. My parents have had the biggest influence on my music in terms of what I listened to when I was a kid. It was all Radiohead and Bjork and PJ Harvey. My uncle gave me my first guitar when I was eight years old and my cousins are incredibly talented musicians, I learned a lot from playing with them.

What's the first song that you remember liking?

I remember when music really clicked with me. I was about 14 years old and I randomly picked up Nevermind by Nirvana off my parents' CD rack. I remember being blown away by the power of 'Smells like Teen Spirit'. So I guess that was probably the first song I had a massive connection with. If I'm a bit more honest though, it was probably something like 'I'm Blue' by Eiffel 65. Huge tune.

When did you decide to turn your passion for music, into actually making music?

I've been making music since I was in college, but I'd never really taken it seriously until the end of my degree. Since I stopped imagining myself in a band and pictured myself as a solo artist, that's when it all changed for me. My expectations of my own music changed and it really freed me up to write.

You music suggests you have keen appreciation for classic pop music but what artists do you count as inspirations - are there some artists that we'd be surprised to know you like?

I'm influenced by so much music, but I guess Thom Yorke has had the most impact on the way I think about music. As for surprises I'm really into hip-hop. I really love MF Doom and Kendrick Lamar. I also love house and techno.

What's you creative process like?

It's usually quite long and tiresome. I spend a lot of my time hating everything I'm doing and then suddenly I'll come up with a series of chords or a melody and then I get really excited and it sort of takes off. I enjoy those first few moments, you're trying to apply some sort of structure to proceedings as well as failing to hold back the urge to get totally carried away.

In terms of lyrics, what kind of things inspire you to write?

I write about relationships, love and loss. I keep it simple, traditional.

Tell us a bit about your latest song, 'Fox'.

I was walking home from my friend's house at about 5am, the sun was coming up and I was feeling particularly contemplative so I stopped and stood in the middle of this deserted road, and I suddenly realised this fox was staring at me, proper eyeing me up. We held each others gaze for about 15 seconds before it moved on. It felt pretty special, so I went home and wrote a song about how it made me feel.

Any future plans for The Half Earth?

I've been writing for the last couple of months so I'm getting back in my 'studio' (bedroom) to record everything. I've got some ambitious ideas, a load more instrumentation I want to include. Apart from that, I've got a few gigs coming up in Sheffield. I'm looking forward to performing again. It's been a while.

Lastly describe The Half Earth in 5 words or less!

Mind up, Body down.