UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 15 NOVEMBER
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire alumni Seth Bye and Chris Roberts, the musicians behind Filkin’s Drift, have taken sustainable touring to the next level after completing their latest tour by foot.
Seth studied for a BMus at the Conservatoire, whilst Chris completed a Masters in Classical Guitar. The duo met during their studies and founded Filkin’s Drift in 2019. The band aim to reimagine traditional melodies through pizzicato grooves, intricate guitar tunes and improvisation.
The band are always trying to find unconventional approaches to making music, including their 870-mile walking tour of the Welsh coast in celebration of releasing their debut EP. The band’s tour included 50 gigs across 59 nights, stopping at the likes of Rhyl, Pwllheli, Holyhead, Swansea, Cardiff, Barry, and many towns which rarely get to enjoy live music.
Seth said: “We realised that as full-time musicians, we spend a large amount of our time in a car, stuck in various traffic jams.
“We wondered if there was a way to tour that wasn’t so harmful for the environment, as well as our own mental and physical health. Chris is from Cardiff, so we took inspiration from the Welsh Bardic tradition, to combine the acts of roaming and making music.
“We visited literally every town on the Welsh coast. We stayed with the lovely people of Wales, relying on the kindness of the community to host us.
“Come rain or shine, we just had to keep walking as we had gigs to get to. It was hard at times to keep the instruments dry. We used waterproof bag covers to strap around my fiddle and Chris’s guitar. About halfway through the trip, we realized that the guitar was getting warped due to the damp, so we swapped to a different guitar, and upped the waterproofing too.”
Image credit: Tegan Foley.
There was no VIP treatment for the duo, who had just one pair of clothes to walk in, and one pair to perform in.
Seth said: “Getting changed and keeping on top of food and drink was always difficult. We would normally finish walking around 5pm, sometimes turning up to a venue soaking wet. We had one pair of clothes to walk in, and one to perform in. Once we arrived at each gig, we’d swap over our clothes and begin to unpack our cumbersome backpacks.
“We’d often get food from the kind people who were hosting the gigs or try and grab some cafe food in the town that we arrived at. We would carry supplies with us for each day, fresh bread and a filling of cheese, sardines or houmous.
“We carried everything we needed for 2 months on our backs, as we had no support vehicle. Our packs weighed around 15kg, mostly consisting of instrument weight: fiddle, guitar, CDs, card reader, clothes, cameras, and microphones.”
Seth and Chris arriving into their final tour stop in Chepstow. Image credit: Alex Henshaw.
Across the two months that the band toured across Wales, they had to deal with both Storm Agnes and Storm Babet. But they still picked up a wide range of highlights and experiences on their journey.
Seth said: “Our walking highlights would be the Llŷn Peninsula, Ynys Môn in Anglesey and Pembrokeshire.
“We saw so many dolphins, porpoises and nearly 100 seals over the 2 months. Goats on the Great Orme were another highlight.”
The band are now calling on those in the music industry to change its mindset on sustainability, and they have even said that it has changed the way they plan to tour in the future – although admittedly, it will be more focused on public transport than hiking.