Bishopskin blend folk, blues, punk and medieval hymn on ‘Hey Little Sister’.

The nine-piece supergroup’s unique sound explores further fresh territory amid overlapping childhood memories.

Photo: Spela Cedilnik | Words: Joshua Tubb

Bishopskin (Bishop’s-kin? Bishop-skin?) are something of a modern English supergroup that came together over lockdown. Originally formed by vocalist/artist Tiger Nicholson and guitarist James Donovan, formerly of HMLTD, they have been steadily gaining notoriety with eccentric live shows and uncategorisable releases. New track ‘Hey Little Sister’ captures the group’s signature mystique, mixing blues, British folk, punk and medieval hymn.

The tune opens with uncharacteristic softness in an elegant violin intro supplied by Hana Miyagi before it locks into rhythm with the clarinet of Tati Gutteridge and sax from Jed Holloway. The vocals are delivered in a twisted croon by Nicholson, channeling, as he explains, two strands of childhood memories. “The verses are for my twin sister. When writing it I had this image of us as little children in a big rowboat straining on bending oars against this enormous green marbled sea. The chorus is from a story a friend told me about when he was a choir boy around ten years old. Before a concert in an evening service at church, the boys were playing in the graveyard. One thing led to another and gentle play turned to rough and tumble turned to pushing and punching turned to a pretty violent brawl. Things got out of hand till the Vicar came out and put an end to it with a whack and a shout and all the little lads were piled in the back to put their white surplice robes on before they sang sweetly to the congregation.”

A build to a sax bridge midway through the track gives the signal for a fresh urgency to enter into the band’s playing. As the track approaches its end, the group plug away at a swarm of rootsy hooks, before the violins lead a closing spiral down into a satisfying silence. Heralding their forthcoming debut album in style, ‘Hey Little Sister’ is a compelling and captivating tune that showcases Bishopskin’s unconventional style and exceptional songwriting.