This Friday sees the release of music duo Campbell/Jensen’s debut album Turtle Cottage, which has been a year in the making, and they released their debut single P&P in September, which marked their first song written together. Having also released their single A Song By Vampires, For Vampires, Ashley Campbell and Thor Jensen are heading out on a UK & Ireland Tour starting next month, with a date at St. Pancras Old Church in London. Last summer, the duo supported Jimmy Webb, and both singers work on their own music as well as Campbell/Jensen, with Thor having started work on a jazz record in the states, with the hope of having it finalised by the end of this year, and Ashley is currently working on a new album. We chatted to Campbell/Jensen about their upcoming Turtle Cottage album release, their UK & Ireland Tour starting next month and their future plans.
Your debut album Turtle Cottage will be releasing on November 3rd, what are you looking forward to for the release?
Thor Jensen – First and foremost, looking forward to seeing our art reach its completion. So much time and energy went into the record, so to see it come to life will be a huge reward. It also feels like its release marks the starting line for our group. I mean, we’ve been a band for over a year, but finally having a collection of our music to share with the world makes it feel a bit more real.
Ashley Campbell – I’m really looking forward to seeing these songs in action. We’ve been living with most of these songs for almost a year now. We know what they mean to us and now we get a chance to see them transform from an idea into a conversation; to get a feel for how listeners will interpret and personalise them. That’s the beauty of creating and releasing art, it goes beyond you and belongs to something bigger.
Can you tell us about Turtle Cottage and what has it been like to work on?
Thor – It’s a collection of songs Ashley and I wrote in the latter half of 2022, recorded in a centuries old cottage in Northern Ireland. It was quite the experience working on the album. The cottage being quite old and isolated, we relied on an old wood stove for warmth and made many a meal crouched below the low ceilings in the kitchen. Our view was spectacular, and while we played songs we could see otters playing on the edge of the loch and cranes taking flight.
Ashley – The songs and pretty much the whole process of making this album with Thor has felt so natural. I wouldn’t say effortless because a great deal of effort was put into making this record, but it was joyful work. It’s great fun making music with someone you admire and respect.
How long has the album been in the making and who do you think it will appeal to?
Thor – From writing the songs to spinning the record, the whole project has taken about a year. I think it will appeal to any music lover looking for a journey. We did our best to tell stories both with our lyrics and the accompanying music.
What was it like seeing the listeners’ response to your recent single A Song By Vampires, For Vampires?
Thor – It’s been great to see people get into it! That song’s life began as a bit of an inside joke between us, and ended up being quite a poignant song about lasting love. Seeing people relate to it has been the greatest reward for that work.
How was it releasing your debut single P&P in September?
Ashley – P&P was the first song Thor and I wrote together. I thought it fitting that it should be our first single from our first album. We wrote it while we were in quarantine both recovering from a nasty bout of COVID. The song is actually about our experience of having COVID together but I think on a more personal level it reflects the joy muddled with the uncertainty that a new relationship can bring. “I don’t know if we’ll make it but it’s nice to have you near”. Trusting that you’ll get to where you’re meant to be together. Trusting that you’re together on the journey.
Thor – Being our first single AND the first song we ever wrote together, it felt like a lot of the hard work was finally starting to get the opportunity to show itself. Like the first step in a long-awaited journey.
Next month, you will be performing your headline UK & Ireland Tour, which includes a date at St. Pancras Old Church in London, how are you preparing for the shows?
Thor – Practice, practice, practice!!
Ashley – Just playing the songs together. We like to have a spontaneity to our live shows but the freedom to do that comes from knowing the songs inside and out.
What can audiences expect from your performance and why would you recommend booking tickets?
Thor – We’ll be performing the entirety of Turtle Cottage, plus some other favourite songs of ours. We love to play live, and feel most at home on stage.
Some of your first shows were last summer when you supported Jimmy Webb, what was this like?
Thor – What a joy and privilege that was! We couldn’t have asked for a better audience to present our new project to, and Jimmy is such an icon. The depth of his art is really something to behold, and to be able to share so many nights with him was an absolute honour.
Ashley – And for me personally, Jimmy has been such an important figure in my life, especially since my father’s passing. He and my father had such a special relationship and shared such a unique bond through their mutual love of music. Being around Jimmy, hearing his music and his stories is a masterclass in how to be a true filter for the experience of living.
What are you enjoying most about working together as Campbell/Jensen?
Thor – Making art and spending time with my favourite person.
Ashley – Ditto! And I love seeing an idea I’ve had go beyond where I thought it would go. That’s the beauty of collaboration. Thor and I have such an easy way of bouncing ideas back and forth. It’s such a fun process.
Can you tell us about both members and how did Campbell/Jensen come about?
Ashley – Thor and I both come from very different backgrounds stylistically, but we also love a lot of the same things in music! It’s a great fit!
How did you each get into music and was it something you both always wanted to do?
Ashley – I grew up in a musical household. While I didn’t know I would end up having a career in music, I was always surrounded by it. I started with piano when I was six years old and was fascinated by film scores actually. I loved thinking of music as an accompaniment to a story. I loved how music could heighten and enhance the way a story was experienced. I think that’s why I became a songwriter eventually.
Thor – It’s something that caught my attention pretty young and I started to play the guitar when I was 10. At 16, I started playing gigs very regularly and haven’t really looked back since.
What are some of your favourite music artists to listen to?
Ashley – I feel like I cast a wide net of musical tastes based on what mood I’m in. Django Reinhardt always puts me in a good mood. Lately on my record player I’ve been spinning Harry Nilsson, Julian Lage, David Bowie, Béla Fleck and St. Vincent’s album with David Byrne.
Thor – Some of my all-time favourites are Tom Waits, Django Reinhardt and Bob Marley. Some folks I’ve gotten into more recently are Julian Lage, May Erlewine and Andy Schauf.
How do you both like to spend your free time?
Thor – Now that we live in London, we’ve really been enjoying going for walks, getting lost and seeing what we can stumble upon.
Ashley – It’s my favourite way to get to know a new city. We also love seeing live music in our time off. It’s not just what we do, it’s also something we very much enjoy to be a part of.
Thor – We’re also both quite active in the kitchen.
Ashley – Cooking is such a joy as well as a stress reliever for me. Even as I type this, I can hear the gentle simmer of a stock I’ve got on the cooktop to make a soup for tonight’s dinner and I feel at ease.
Do you have any upcoming music plans that you can tell us about and what are you hoping the next few months bring for your careers?
Thor – Well, the next number of months we’ll be seeing a lot of time behind the wheel getting Turtle Cottage out there and on stage. We’re very excited about sharing it on as many stages as possible. We each also have individual projects in the works. I’m in the process of recording a jazz record, which I started this summer in the states, and am hoping to finish by year’s end.
Ashley – Exactly. The next few months are Turtle Cottage all the way. I’ve also got a new album that’s nearly finished that I hope to release sometime in 2024.
Follow Campbell/Jensen on: