Q&A with timeless troubadours, Burr Island

We sat down with Oskar Porter, vocalist for the London-based acoustic folk duo Burr Island. The UK-based pair, comprised of best friends Oskar and Tom England, have recently unveiled a new single named ‘Our Home’, on the 1st of March 2024 via Left Foot Records. The track, a tranquil ode to the spiritual and sensory salve that nature offers us, is an exquisitely timeless folk tune. 

Receiving praise from industry giants like Robert Plant and Noel Gallagher and support from esteemed radio stations support from BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 2, and Radio X (to name but a few), the pair boast over  250,000 streams across all platforms for their first four singles. With their debut album and a tour with The Blow Monkeys on the way in 2024, the future looks promising for the Burr Island boys. 

Listen to ‘Our Home’ while you read our interview with Oskar below.



Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

We feel that it’s not really a choice to become an artist.  It feels like in order to be true to ourselves, we have to make music.


Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

With us, usually the sound influences the words or ideas. For most of the songs, Tom will sit and play his guitar, singing in an unintelligible way until something happens, and that can be a whole song, half a song, the beginning, etc; then we’ll get in a room and bounce off each other, usually until the song is finished. What we sing about, more often than not, springs from the conversations we have on long car journeys together… and there’s a lot of long car journeys!


Does your material feature any collaborations? 

We have been lucky to work with a whole host of incredibly talented friends and musicians on the album; John McCusker on fiddle; Jessica Cox – strings/ string arrangement; Jacko Peake on flute; Tim Smart on trombone; Pablo Mendelssohn on trumpet; our wonderful friend Rose D’Aulbey – vocals; our other wonderful friend Charlie Stanier on drums.


What’s on your current playlist?

(Oskar): Emma Gatrill, Bess Atwell, Olafur Arnalds, Gordon Lightfoot, Nick Drake, Neil Young and CSNY.


Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

Our relationship with the audience is so important to what we do. On stage, it’s often just the two of us, two voices and a guitar. The best nights are when you can hear a pin drop. There’s lots of nuances and intricacies in our performances that we want people to hear. We played Union Chapel quite early on and were blown away by the audience’s attention and reaction. Still a major highlight.


What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

Originality in songwriting is what we strive for. Of course, it’s impossible to write a song without being influenced by something or many things you have heard and when we write, we feel it’s so important to surprise ourselves constantly, whether that’s with the chord you chose, the rhythm change, key change etc. If it surprises us, it’s probably not going to sound too much like a song we’ve heard before. I think most of our originality comes from our songwriting and our distinct vocal harmonies.


Take us through a day in the recording studio.

We record with Steve Cradock (Ocean Colour Scene) at Kundalini Studios in Devon. It feels like a proper retreat. We arrive around 10am and we have a catch up with Steve and his wife, Sal. We’ll then chat about the plans for the days ahead over a cup of peppermint tea and then crack on! 

We mostly start the process by recording Tom singing and playing the song live, then we overdub with Oskar‘s vocals and any other vocals we want to add, plus other instrumentation. We usually have the rough workings of 2 songs done in a day. Then, at the end of the recording process, Steve will bounce and send the mixes and we’ll listen to them off and on for a month or so… then we’ll come back to the studio and change things or, sometimes, everything. Steve and Sal have helped us out so much. They’ve been great mentors.


Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

We’ve been singing together since we met, 11 years ago. It was more of a hobby then. Tom had been writing songs since he was 14, so he came with lots of ideas and we began to write together then. We met at drama school and spent most of our twenties training/ working as actors. Covid took us away from all that; we both felt that the acting industry wasn’t giving us enough meaning in life, but music was. We started to write more and more songs, getting better all the time and then it all just fell into place. 


What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

It’s pretty crazy but we always have some water with us… or herbal tea.


Any emerging artists on your radar?

Emma Gatrill, Clara Mann and Hohnen Ford.


What gets your creative juices flowing?

Free time. Such a sacred thing.


Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

Tom has a Lakewood M 14CP acoustic guitar. Most of the time we just record ideas on our phones or iPads!


Any side projects you’re working on?

Tom‘s in the process of writing an absurd animated sitcom about an owl. Oskar is practicing Buddhism.


How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

The more you write, the better you get. Though, you have to want to get better. Going to gigs and listening to artists that we like has, of course, inspired us greatly.


Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

We’re currently planning a spring/summer headline tour! We’ll be playing St. Pancreas Old Church, London, on 6th June! Come along!


Famous last words?

I hope these aren’t our last words. We were planning to write a few more tunes.


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