Feature: Bear’s Den Reflect on a Decade of Intimate Songwriting & Unpack Their ‘White Magnolias’ EP

Bear's Den © Bennie Curnow
Bear's Den © Bennie Curnow
For ten years now, Bear’s Den have poured their own unfiltered humanity into their songs, treating audiences around the world to an array of warm, tender, and achingly intimate indie folk-rock confessionals that make the heart flutter and skip a beat or two. Speaking to Atwood Magazine, the British band discuss this milestone and their two new EPs, ‘First Loves’ and ‘White Magnolias,’ both of which hone in on that sense of vulnerability and human connection that has long been core to their identity.
Stream: “Loneliness” – Bear’s Den




You go ahead, I’ll be right behind; I just need something to calm down my mind,” Bear’s Den’s Andrew Davie sings gently, his words as vulnerable as his performance is raw. “Sometimes I wish you could hear all the thoughts that I cannot sing – that I could show you the wounds before they just start growing.

For ten years now, Bear’s Den have poured their own unfiltered humanity into their songs, treating audiences around the world to an array of warm, tender, and achingly intimate indie folk-rock confessionals that make the heart flutter and skip a beat or two. Theirs is the music of a soul exposed; from the opening breaths of “Agape” to the sheer heartache of “Sophie” and “Above the Clouds of Pompeii,” to the grief rampant throughout 2019’s So that you might hear me, the inner struggle and raw hope of 2022’s Blue Hours, and beyond, Bear’s Den’s art has always been beautifully heartrending.

Bear's Den © Bennie Curnow
Bear’s Den © Bennie Curnow



“Time flies, and that is a difficult question,” the band’s vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter, Andrew Davie, says when asked how Bear’s Den have grown over the past decade. “Personally, I feel like I know as much or maybe less than I did when we started. I’m sure there are lots of things we’ve learned along the way, but the main thing for me is that every record has felt and probably should feel like we’ve pushed ourselves into a world we didn’t fully understand. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I totally know what our records will sound or feel like before we’ve made them, and perhaps as you get older you feel like you should, but the magic is what happens when Kev and I get our heads around something and then extend that outward to the rest of the guys in the band, and it always ends up more interesting and exciting than we could have imagined.”

“I like to think we expand and contract with each record we make – we challenge a convention that we ourselves have set out previously, and see where that takes us,” Davie’s bandmate, multi-instrumentalist and co-songwriter Kev Jones adds. “As long as we always return to the song as our basecamp then it allows us a lot of freedom to musically explore, set new temporary parameters and return home to see what we’ve discovered, if that makes sense. It allows us to push boundaries without losing our way, and grow with each creative motion.”

White Magnolias EP - Bear's Den
Bear’s Den’s second EP of 2023, ‘White Magnolias,’ released in November 2023

Grow indeed; like a fine wine, Bear’s Den just keep getting better over time.

2023 has seen the release of not one, but two EPs from the London-based duo of Davie and Jones (joined by longtime touring members Christof van der Ven and Jools Owen). First came the romantic, heart-on-sleeve First Loves in June, a moving musical exploration of falling in love and the onset of intimacy. It was followed by the brooding and bittersweet White Magnolias in November, whose pensive, soul-searching reveries soothe the ears and stir the heart like a heavy, cathartic exhale.

“Originally the songs from First Loves and White Magnolias were supposed to form part of Blue Hours Pt. 2, but the further along we got in the creative process, the more we felt like the songs were two separate smaller bodies of work,” Andrew Davie tells Atwood Magazine.

“EPs have always been a chance for us historically to explore pockets of sound and musical or lyrical ideas that are inspiring to us. It’s how we started as a band, and it’s fun to have returned to these separate, but connected bodies of work.”

Bear's Den © Bennie Curnow
Bear’s Den’s Andrew Davie (left) and Kev Jones (right) © Bennie Curnow



Part of the vision for this newest batch of songs was to hone in on that sense of vulnerability and human connection that has long been core to Bear’s Den’s identity.

“One thing we spoke about with both EPs was to peel back some of the layers of production from what Blue Hours had explored,” Davie says. The band’s fourth album, Blue Hours was intentionally bolder and bigger than records past, housing some of Bear’s Den’s most evocative and driving music to date as they reemerged from the pandemic with a bang!

But every pendulum must eventually swing back in the other direction. “I feel with Bear’s Den there is a constant push and pull between the rockier side of what we do and the more intimate, acoustic, storytelling side of what we do,” Davie says. “Sonically I think these EPs explore the intimacy more and explore being a band in a room and pushing each other to get the best performances we could as opposed to leaning into synthesizers or any big production concepts.”

Kev Jones agrees. “There are a few songs on these EPs that have very few overdubs and represent the instrumentation that we had in the room alone,” he adds. “I think that discipline in the studio is an important one to exercise from time to time, it forces each player and part to be properly considered from start to finish and relies more on old school musicianship rather than production imagination. Both are equally exciting and important, but the latter can mean you connect to the songs in a more fragmented way rather than looking at it purely as a story to be told or a complex emotion to be explored as one creative effort.”

“BLUE HOURS FELT LIKE A NAME FOR MY OWN DEPRESSION”: AN INTERVIEW WITH BEAR’S DEN’S ANDREW DAVIE

:: FEATURE ::



First Loves & White Magnolias - Bear's Den
Bear’s Den combined their two EPs into one album-length vinyl, ‘First Loves & White Magnolias

At just four tracks in length, both First Loves and White Magnolias are tight enough such that each of their songs gets its moment in the sun.

“I feel like all our records are our children and they perhaps have different personality traits,” Davie smiles. “Maybe First Loves is a more romantic, naïve, purist kind of a record, and White Magnolias is a slightly older sibling, a touch wiser, a little jaded and perhaps is a bit more searching in the questions it’s asking.”

He candidly describes White Magnolias as a midlife crisis, its songs especially introspective, beautiful deep-dives into life’s most intimate encounters.

Bears Den © Bennie Curnow
Bear’s Den © Bennie Curnow



The record’s title has been a long time coming, and finally blossomed when Davie wrote the song “White Magnolias” – itself a tender reflection on how hard it is to define love and what it means to you.

“I’ve always loved the word ‘magnolia’ – I also really love the Paul Thomas Anderson movie, Magnolia,” Davie explains. “Jason Molina’s work in the Magnolia Electric Co. – both the album and band – is a huge influence of mine… It’s a word with a lot of weight for me, without really knowing why, and one day I saw some white magnolia trees while on tour, I think in America somewhere. I just felt really compelled to write a song called ‘White Magnolias.’ I think they’re really beautiful, but hard to define, and I think as a songwriter that in itself is quite an appealing task – to explore why something means something to you, without knowing what you’ll end up writing about.”

It’s hard to define you what’s concealed inside you
Is multitudes, I can’t begin to explain or to rationalise
Did I dream you? No, I am awake
You fill each moment, each empty space
As you float down the vast corridors of my childhood
And still yet you want to explore
And to meet all my demons, smile as you greet them
And ask them politely, “Please don’t visit here anymore”
Some days they even listen to you
It’s enough love to pull me through
And all the white magnolias didn’t wait for the spring
Babe, when I’m with you, I can do anything
And all the white magnolias didn’t wait for the spring
Babe, when I’m with you, I forgive everything




Every moment of the White Magnolias EP resonates with an immersive warmth and emotional nuance.

Second track “Loneliness” is a breathtakingly beautiful and bittersweet expression of raw, unfiltered humanity that sends shivers down the spine as the band capture an invisible, intimate weight with delicate grace:

You wanna know what it is?
Love taught me what loneliness is
It taught me how to forgive what
No one should make you
ever really have to forgive
And we all fall behind, from time to time
And say “I thought that I was over all of this”

Honest Mistake” is an impassioned and emotive apology that bears the weight of the world – and the totality of one’s relationship – all in one sitting. Davie unpacks love’s nuances and inevitable complexities with an exposed and humble heart, exploring what it means to talk without listening and take a partner for granted through some of the most poignant and poetic lyrics of his career:

There’s something in the water, something swimming in my drink
There is plastic in our oceans, there is plastic in my dreams
I’m a fading belle in the harshest light
Clawing at the sky as all your stars hang over me tonight
Yeah, it was an honest mistake
To love you in such an ugly kind of way
Yeah, it was an honest mistake
To believe a single word that you’d say
It’s a crying shame with no words left to say
We’ve been looking for anything to lead us back
But you can’t hear my side, I can’t read your mind
I’m clinging on to a memory if that’s all that we have
Then that’s a hell of a waste as we fall from grace
All tangled up in honest mistakes




For Davie, it’s the little moments of musical magic that resonate most with him on this EP.

“Kev’s bass on ‘White Magnolias’ and ‘Honest Mistakes’ are some of my favourite bass ideas he’s ever written,” he says. “Both those songs feel like new sonic worlds for the band and are exciting to me.”

“To be honest, all four of them feel different to things we’ve done before,” he adds, chuckling as he recalls, “I really enjoyed leaning into playing piano more, which was a challenge probably for all involved! I just really enjoyed embracing being a band playing songs in a room together for the first time since our first album probably.”

All four songs on White Magnolias capture a piece of our shared human experience – evoking the profound beauty and the burden of being alive, of loving intensely and wholeheartedly, and of tripping and falling flat on our faces – are we are all wont to do from time to time.

The EP concludes with the soul-stirring melancholy piano ballad “Imitation,” which finds Davie and Bear’s Den at their most vulnerable, visceral, and raw. At the core of this song is a desire to find one’s true self, and to be seen by your loved one(s) for who you really are, and not the person you might try or pretend to be. “Crudely defined, I’m just a poser lost,” Davie admits, his voice weighed own by his own desires and unmet expectations. “Impersonations of what a man should be… I’ve tried for seemingly now my entire life, to play a part.” Dwelling in his deepest innermost depths, Davie inspires us to delve into ourselves as well as we, in turn, reflect on our own sense of self, and who we are to the ones we love.

Tear it apart, this man I am needs mеdicine
To wade through the dark,
for this mannеquin, this mess I’m in

This folding inside, stuck in a stoic silence of a
Stubborn yet brittle mind
You go ahead, I’ll be right behind
I just need somethin’ to calm down my mind
Sometimes I wish you could hear
all the thoughts that I cannot sing

That I could show you the wounds
before they just start growin’

That we could walk into the dark,
unafraid with our lanterns glowin’

And see it for all that it is




Bear's Den © Bennie Curnow
Bear’s Den © Bennie Curnow



Ten years into their career, Bear’s Den continue to be a beacon of unfiltered humanity, their intimate and confessional music as much a balm for our own weary souls as it is a seductive soundtrack to our innermost reckonings and reflections.

“I think our aim as a band has always been to be open about the things we find difficult in the lyrics, and to arrange and perform the songs in such a way that hopefully can be moving or helpful to someone who is going through it,” Davie shares. “Hopefully by writing a song about loneliness or anything difficult, someone out there could feel less alone. That’s the dream.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Bear’s Den’s White Magnolias EP with Atwood Magazine as Andrew Davie takes us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of the band’s latest release!

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:: stream/purchase White Magnolias here ::
:: connect with Bear’s Den here ::
Stream: ‘White Magnolias’ – Bear’s Den



:: Inside White Magnolias ::

White Magnolias EP - Bear's Den

— —

White Magnolias

The song is about how hard it is to define love and what it means to you. This year I got married and spent a lot of time thinking about love and my wife and in amongst all that thinking, this song was written.
I’ve always loved “magnolias” – both the word and the trees. I saw some white magnolias and really loved them and ended up reading up on them, it turns out they have many different meanings – purity, luck, hope, grief etc etc. I also learned that they shouldn’t have been in bloom when I saw them. I liked the idea of the person you love being like a small miracle and the facilitator of small miracles that no one else might notice, that mean the world to you.



Loneliness

This song is really a response to a song our friend, Bennie Curnow wrote. He had this lyric saying “I want to know what it is, I want to know what that loneliness is”. It was a song about wanting to fall in love and wanting to experience all the depths of emotions you go through.
This is a slightly jaded song that’s really just an answer to his song.  I think it’s also quite hopeful (hopefully) but yeah it was very much inspired by our buddy Bennie and it was co-written with another of our great friends, Tommy Heap, who really helped give the song some shape in its infancy!



Honest Mistake

This song started as a piano ballad and I was a bit lost with it as an idea. Kev came over to my place and we played around with drums and bass ideas and very quickly it became this much more robust and bold song with a lot of energy. I’d been a bit scared of sharing some of my drum machine ideas from a really early demo but they worked well with some of Kev’s bolder live drum ideas. The bass on this song is also a real highlight.
To be honest, the bass on this whole EP really feels like an important voice for these songs. Not that it isn’t normally but perhaps these songs and this one in particular had more space for that voice and texture which was really fun to hear and bring out. Sally Herbert’s string arrangements on this song really brought so much to it as well. As her magnificent arrangements always do.



Imitation

This song is my way of talking about my relationship with a few difficult things really: Masculinity, impostor syndrome and general ideas around identity. I sometimes feel very much the sum of many impressions of people I love and admire as I’m sure we all subconsciously are but I think the song has this yearning to establish who you are or “to find itself” and to be less tied to who you should be – if that makes sense?

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:: stream/purchase White Magnolias here ::
:: connect with Bear’s Den here ::



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White Magnolias EP - Bear's Den

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