In 2014 we welcomed Sephine Llo to the roster. Sephine Llo is a prolific wunderkind whose accelerated development in the traditional classical music circuit led to early adventures in composition and sound recording. Feeling “strangely unfulfilled” by her virtuosic capabilities, Sephine soon began experimenting with alternative sound sources for her recordings – this included both day-to-day objects and lesser-known instruments such as the kora and sanxian, which she taught herself. She combined this experimentation with an unconventional songwriting style and a unique vocal performance, and hence it’s not surprising to hear whispers of “Kate Bush” and “Joni Mitchell” as references from early adopters.
Going on to win several awards at university for her recording and composition (she completed the world-renowned Tonmeister course at University of Surrey, famous for being the ‘filter-university’ for producers/engineers at the BBC, Abbey Road, Real World Studios etc), Sephine has since continued to compose and record, as well as performing as a session player in numerous international outfits.
Sephine brought her unique contemporary, folk-inspired songwriting and composition to us for her Flame EP, an initial taste of her brilliance which was quickly championed online and at radio. Hoping to deliver to you her debut album shortly afterwards, Sephine sadly learned of her husband’s cancer diagnosis. Since then she was by his side until his death, which happened just after discovering they were pregnant.
Sephine gave birth to their son Laurence in the summer of 2017, and it is with incredible humility and honour that we released Sephine’s album I, Your Moon, later that year.
New single, The Phoenix and the Olive Tree, is an old unreleased track newly reworked and lyrically laced with a new and unforeseen poignancy. It was originally penned as a wedding present to Sephine’s late husband and music collaborator Robert Lloyd-Wilson (of Autumn Chorus). The release date of 4th June marks the 2-year anniversary since Sephine’s performance at a charity memorial concert honouring her late husband and raising over £2.5k for Kidscan Children’s Cancer Research charity, a performance undertaken with the artist pregnant with their first child. In a wonderful symmetry, Sephine Llo will be marking the release of her new single with another fundraising gig, at The Harrison, London on 7th June 2019, a gig that will be performed once again pregnant as Sephine is expecting the couple’s second child (thanks to the wonders of IVF).
The song was written before Robert Lloyd-Wilson’s diagnosis but still written with deep emotion exploring as Sephine expands “how all of the pain of our pasts had been washed away by finding each other, like being reborn into a new life of joy and happiness.” The Phoenix and the Olive Tree references previous songs from both artists – at the start it nods to Autumn Chorus’ track Bye Bye Now, written about Robert Lloyd-Wilson losing his own mother to cancer. The song also alludes to Sephine’s album track Barren Heart and explores finding the capacity to love again despite thinking it impossible. This symbolism of grief and rebirth has evolved over time with Robert’s passing and with the birth of their first child Laurie, and now the life cycle soon to repeat again with the birth of his sister.
Each year Sephine Llo raises money for the aforementioned Kidscan Children’s Cancer Research charity, last year 6k was raised by a sponsored head shave. The video for Phoenix and the Olive Tree, directed by Jessie Rodger, captures this moment with the song’s themes of loss and rebirth found in Sephine’s stunning transformation, with the 27 inches of hair shaved off donated to The Little Princess Trust.
All money made from the single will be donated to Kidscan Children’s Cancer Research. Donation link can be found here : https://kidscan.org.uk/donate/