Stornoway are a British indie folk band formed in 2006 in the Cowley area of Oxford, UK. Having self-released three EPs, the band signed to 4AD in March 2010, releasing their debut single for the label just weeks later. Their home-recorded debut long player, Beachcomber’s Windowsill followed shortly after in May, building on the already substantial fanbase the band had acquired through breathless word of mouth reverie.


Indeed, their organic ascent reflects the feverish devotion that Stornoway seem to inspire. Prior to their signing with 4AD, the band had acquired a devout following in their hometown by playing self-promoted shows that grew from barely attended performances in small Oxford venues to selling out the 800 capacity Sheldonian Theatre, the first and indeed last electric performance for the Christopher Wren designed venue, all the time remaining basically unknown outside of the city. Unsurprisingly, given the grassroots relationship with their fans, the band’s popularity wasn’t to remain parochial for long. Quickly they acquired the support of Radio 1 with two playlisted singles and headlined Radio 1's Big Weekend, found themselves shortlisted for the BBC's Sound of 2010 poll and then became the first band ever of Glastonburys emerging talent competition to be booked for the Pyramid, played sold-out UK tours, and appeared as the first unsigned band on the superlative BBC TV music show Later… With Jools Holland.


Fanbase and industry support attained in equal measure, the next stage was for the band to release their debut album. Already recorded prior to the band becoming involved with 4AD, Stornoway were keen to retain the homegrown quality that eased through the 8-track recordings they’d amassed over the previous year. Thankfully, 4AD shared the opinion that the majority of the songs should be left unaltered, tied as they were to the recording locales of college bedrooms, garages and community centres. Beachcomber’s Windowsill very much spoke of a band isolated from the demands of the music industry, relying on instinct and ambition alone. Grandiose as the album is, Beachcomber’s Windowsill is charged with an intimacy and emotional directness that speaks of both the origins of its genesis and Stornoway’s pure and heartfelt approach to music as a whole. All of the precise care, all of the years and the bells and the bedrooms, proved to be worthwhile.


Beachcomber’s Windowsill gate crashed into the Top 10 UK charts, ending up at number 12 and attained Silver sales status after it was bought by over fifty thousand fans soon after its release. 2010 closed with the album receiving the Xfm Award for Best Debut Album of 2010 as voted for by their peers including : Snow Patrol, Elbow and renowned producer John Leckie amongst others. The band went on to take their unique and very English sound around the world: highlights included Sasquatch Festival in the US and Laneways in Australia. Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Poland all fell for Stornoway’s nautically inspired and wistful nature-boy charm. Returning to the UK in 2011, further live highlights led to the band headlining Hop Farm Festival and playing the main stage at Isle of Wight as well as not one but two spiritual homecomings - firstly at Glastonbury Festival where they opened proceedings on the Pyramid Stage and then later headlining at their namesake Stornoway Festival on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. The summer ended on a true high note when the band played the only sold-out performance for the Somerset House Sessions overlooking the Thames in the courtyard of the former Admiralty building, to a three thousand capacity crowd with an Orchestra. And one last accolade was reserved for the end of 2011 when the band were invited to play as support to Bon Iver, the curator for the Pitchfork Festival in Paris.


At the time of writing Stornoway are ensconced safely back in Oxford, readying their sophomore long player for release in 2012. True to a band comprised of such worthy young gentlemen, it will no doubt be a perfect pop missive, straight from the heart, wrapped in a delicate filigree of guileless charm and intelligence.

Rob Challice
Booking Assistant: Lily Oram Assisted by: Laura Wenborn