Born on Highway 30 one January morning by the Gulf of Mexico, Ophelia is the collaborative project of singer-songwriters Rebecca Van Cleave and Samuel Taylor. The two had been performing together in the US, promoting their respective solo projects, when they decided it was time to bring together some of their favourite musicians and make a record.
On returning to the UK in February 2016, they contacted their neighbour at the time, producer David Glover from Tesla Studios in Sheffield, who has worked with acts such as Slow Club, Michael Malarkey, and Pete (Dexy’s) Williams. As a three piece they started work demoing the tracks and, as summer approached, they decided it was time to make the record. They called in producer and drummer Greg Haver, of Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals fame, and Grammy-Nominated Nashville fiddle player Eamon McLoughlin. The band was formed and the album sessions took place in June 2016.
The album tells a story of past and present- a journey of time, love, life, and loss. It is an introspective record that draws on influences from many different genres of music. Sam says about the album, “I suppose we’ve accidentally created a British Americana Rock record, a record written from the heart. It’s an honest album and we wanted to honour that by keeping the instrumentation on the tracks raw and organic.” The album even includes a track written by Rebecca’s father, Chris Van Cleave, who was a founding member of the 1970’s Paramount Records band Meadow. ‘The Artist’ was written by Chris Van Cleave and originally sung by Laura Brannigan, who later went on to sing hits such as ‘Gloria’. Rebecca rediscovered the song after she and her father played it in her family living room one night during a snowstorm in Virginia. She decided it needed to find new life again on the record.
Rebecca, an actress well know for her role as Lena Heady’s body double in HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ and as the lead in the multi award winning horror short ‘The Prey’, only released her debut EP in September 2015, but has quickly progressed down the music road with her recordings receiving airplay from BBC Introducing. She says of the album, “Making it was a really beautiful process. We knew we wanted to take this record down a different path than our solo stuff- to make it more rocky, edgy, and we spent a lot of time with the tracks really exploring where they could go. Then Greg came in and added his drum magic, and Eamon with his fiddle, and it really took the songs to this other level. It hits you in the heart. I’m really proud of what we’ve created together.”
Samuel has been a part UK music scene for 15 years, first with his bands Dead Like Harry and Taylor & Marie, and as a guitarist for acts such as the Ivor Novello nominated, Nerina Pallot; then more recently, with his solo releases including the ‘Tales From A Troubadour’ EP series, which took place throughout 2015, where he travelled around the world recording a series of EP’s in different towns and cities.
The band have also recently set out on a new journey of their own, with plans to record a series of cinematic music videos shot in different locations around the world that have inspired tracks on the album. From her work as actress, Rebecca has had the fortune of collaborating with many talented directors and cinematographers. She thought this would be an amazing way to tie together the two parts of her life. The first video will be shot in the Autumn of 2016, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where Rebecca grew up.
The band are also hitting the road soon, first with a string of East Coast dates in the US in September, October 2016 and then with a UK Tour planned for February, March 2017.
Exciting times lie ahead for this band of Vagabonds… More news coming soon!