Feature: Sunflower Thieves Shine on Emotive, Heartfelt, & Comforting Debut ‘Someone to Be There For’

Sunflower Thieves © 2022
Sunflower Thieves © 2022
Leeds dream-folk duo Sunflower Thieves dive into raw depths of their achingly intimate and softly stunning debut EP ‘Someone To Be There For,’ an unfiltered record of depth, warmth, self-discovery, and growth.
for fans of First Aid Kit, The Staves, Joseph
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Stream: “Lichtenberg Figures” – Sunflower Thieves

Sunflower Thieves’ sweet indie folk music is a warm balm in an often cold and unforgiving world.

Each of their songs resonates with the depth and passion of a diary entry – one that’s been torn from the pages of a marble lined notebook and brought to life with a tender touch and loving care. Achingly intimate and softly stunning, the Leeds duo’s debut EP Someone To Be There For is a comforting blanket of raw emotion and radiant dream-folk wonder: An unfiltered record that sails unapologetically into the deep end of life, unearthing all the bruises and scars we often bury inside.

Someone To Be There For - Sunflower Thieves
Someone To Be There For – Sunflower Thieves
You were struck by lightning walking in the rain to your car
And when you awoke, the lightning left a beautiful scar
It looked so alive, growing from the base of your spine
And next time I saw you, you were hovering up the hospital drive
Do you believe in extra-terrestrial life?
Cause I saw something in the sky
All of the nightmares you’ve outrun
They thought you were done but you’ve only just begun
You were struck by lightning but you don’t talk about it much any more
Something about it sends a little chill to your core
You think it might’ve gone and changed the look of your eye
You look kind of like a UFO learning to fly

Out April 22, 2022 via Imprint Music, Someone To Be There For is a beautifully vulnerable and cathartic five-track release. The dream-folk duo of longtime friends, vocalists, and multi-instrumentalists Amy Illingworth and Lily Sturt-Bolshaw, Sunflower Thieves self-describe as a “strong soulful sisterhood nurturing a unique sound.” They come to life through wondrous, ethereal vocal harmonies, intimate, vulnerable lyricism, and instrumentation that simultaneously soothes and dazzles.

“Each of Sunflower Thieves’ songs seems to fill the airspace with wonder and light, captivating as Illingworth and Sturt-Bolshaw come together to weave an immersive, intensely visceral experience,” Atwood Magazine wrote of the band last year. praising their single “Sirens” for its knowing glow to combat the creeping darkness: “‘Sirens’ finds Sunflower Thieves filling their world with empathy, love, and warmth… their delicate, colorful vocal harmonies recalling such acclaimed artists as The Staves, First Aid Kit, and Joseph.”

Sunflower Thieves' Cozy “Sirens” & the Warm Glow of Friendship

:: Today's Song ::

Sunflower Thieves have slowly emerged in recent years as one of Leeds, UK’s most subdued, yet stunning new musical exports, and their debut EP successfully seals the deal.

Someone To Be There For is a collection of songs we wrote over the last couple of years, and they all touch on moments or feelings we felt we really needed to be put into words,” the pair tell Atwood Magazine. “They explore self-discovery and growth, both individual and through various specific changing relationships, looking forward and looking back. We’ve both had a lot of change happen in our lives over the last few years, and this was a recurring theme throughout the writing sessions that birthed these songs. We touch on friendship, loss, relationship breakdown, personal strength and growth.”

“We didn’t specifically have a vision when we started writing these songs – we didn’t set out to write an EP. Each one came through writing sessions with friends, and we feel the closeness definitely comes through in the songs. It feels a bit like sharing our diary entries with everyone haha. We’d both moved back home to Derbyshire and the time and headspace that gave us definitely brought some things we needed to say up to the surface. It was a very different process writing without the luxury of playing the songs live before recording them, but we learned a lot about our process doing so, which we can take into our next project.”

Sunflower Thieves © Sophie Jouvenaar
Sunflower Thieves © Sophie Jouvenaar

The aforementioned “Sirens” was the EP’s lead single, and also serves as the record’s opening track, kicking things off with a kind of subdued, yet cinematic dream-folk rallying cry; it remains one of their most memorable performances, engulfing the ears and heart with resounding passion and light. Poignant and powerful all at once, the song is also responsible for the EP’s title, which derives from a line in the track’s enchanting and heartwarming chorus:

Spinning around like sirens
The people
But all that I hear is silence
You pull me through and talk to me
How did you know that I
Needed someone to be
There how you know that I
Need someone to be there for

“These songs all touch on growth, either through relationships or in self-discovery and this title seemed to encapsulate all of the songs together,” Sunflower Thieves explain. “The songs on the EP seem to sit in different stages of the journey to feeling loved and whole and connected to those around us, in relation to different challenges. ‘Sirens’ is a love song for the most necessary kind of friend – the one that needs you. ‘Lichtenberg Figures’ didn’t start out as a personal account, but we’d both agree that we’re not weaker or less beautiful for the challenges we’ve faced and hopefully, it makes people listening to it feel powerful and uplifted. ‘I Don’t Know Why’ is the frustration of trying to and not being able to understand someone close to you. The final two songs reflect the loss of both yourself and another person in a break up, and the realisation of growing apart from old friends. There’s no linear start and end to any of these experiences and feelings, and this is reflected in the tracklist order. It also just felt right to take a lyric from ‘Sirens’, as writing this song was a special moment; we realised we had created something real and important to us, and it led the direction of the EP in terms of production and soundscape when we got to that point.”

“This EP feels like the next step in our songwriting and production. If you’ve been around since our first single ‘Two Halves’, you can hear the progression in songwriting, structure, production, arrangement – and we love that. Someone To Be There For perfectly depicts where we were these past two years and is a landmark for where we’re heading.”

Highlights abound on this breathtaking 19-minute experience that soars high and sweep low in a dazzling display of musical talent and emotional intelligence.

“Sirens” is an indisputable standout, airing on the more ethereal side of things, whilst “Lichtenberg Figures” is a more mainstream immersion of glittering folk-pop. Illingworth and Sturt-Bolshaw’s harmonized voices coalesce with a vivid wall of sound comprised of effected guitars, rich, searing violins, churning, driving drums, and more.

A previous Atwood Magazine Editor’s Pick, the beautifully fragile “I Don’t Know Why” is its own poignant immersion dwelling in a space of introspection. “There’s a heavy weight lingering at the edge of this song – an ethereal ache hanging like an ominous storm cloud just out of view, but still palpable to all of us listening,” we wrote in our previous feature. “It doesn’t hurt, though; the pain is over. The healing has begun. Sunflower Thieves bring this subtle, transformative tumult to life in their gorgeous and glistening tune, complete with finger snaps, lilting acoustic guitars, and a gentle, comforting trumpet solo that soothes the soul.”

Counted all the roses in your garden on my walk last night
After 32 I wasn’t sure if I’d gone wrong or I was right
Eight more minutes passed and then
I chose to leave the numbers up to you
And if you find this in the morning
Write the answer on the back and pass it through
I don’t know why…

Sunflower Thieves © 2022
Sunflower Thieves © 2022

Both band members have their own distinct favorites as well. “‘Sirens’ was a really important write for me,” Amy Illingworth says. “I hadn’t felt like writing very much for a little while, and the verses sort of just fell out of me. I started writing about my friend Hannah, and how invaluable a friend can be when the need for each other is equally mutual and strong. I took them to Lil, Sam and Tom, and they helped me finish what I needed to say. I was so excited hearing the demo Sam and I initially made, and knew we’d made something vital and special.”

“Although it’s not on the digital version of the EP, ‘Birthday’ is definitely a personal favourite of mine,” Lily Sturt-Bolshaw adds, noting a song currently unavailable on streaming services (but accessible if you purchase the vinyl album here). “It’s a song for my Grandma that we wrote the day after what would have been her 90th birthday. She was basically a third parent to me and I miss her a heck of a lot and this song feels like the perfect ode to her. Buy the vinyl to hear it in all its glory, it even has Grandma’s voice on it!! However, I absolutely love all of the songs on this EP and love that even though they were all written about specific events/people in our lives, they can all be relatable in other ways to anyone that hears them.”

As two lyricists, Illingworth and Sturt-Bolshaw go on to cite some of their favorite lines throughout the EP:

  • “Sirens” – “Spinning around like sirens, the people, but all that I hear is silence, you pull me through and talk to me
  • “Lichtenberg Figures” – “All of the nightmares you’ve outrun, they thought you were done but you’ve only just begun
  • “I Don’t Know Why” – “Sat inside and listened to the top songs you must hear before you die, I got lost after the first line of the second track with nothing on my mind
  • “34 Days” – “People have tried to be there for me, I know it’s kind… but daffodils drown in the water if there is no sunlight
  • “Grown Out Of You” – “You’ve got your kids, a house, a job and I’ve got none of the above, all I need is here with me
  • “Birthday” (bonus track on the vinyl) – “You swore you wouldn’t like my hair do if I went ahead and had it dyed, I did it anyway and surprised you, you said you liked it and changed your mind
Sunflower Thieves © 2022
Sunflower Thieves © 2022

Whatever you’re going through in your personal life, Someone to Be There For is sure to shine its inner light on your world.

Sunflower Thieves have delivered a graceful and enchanting record that, by openly addressing relatable challenges and confronting such issues as change, loss, and growth, paves the way for our own cathartic emotional release. Add to that a sweet palette of dreamy, catchy, harmony-drenched music, and these songs become absolutely irresistible.

“We love hearing people’s personal interpretations,” Sunflower Thieves share. “That’s the beauty of songwriting – sharing what we’ve made and seeing people find comfort in the songs, or feel empowered, or moved, both in the same and in different ways to us.” Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Sunflower Thieves’ Someone to Be There For EP with Atwood Magazine as Amy Illingworth and Lily Sturt-Bolshaw take us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their debut EP!

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:: stream/purchase Someone to Be There For here ::
Stream: ‘Someone to Be There For’ – Sunflower Thieves

:: Inside Someone to Be There For ::

Someone To Be There For - Sunflower Thieves

— —


“Sirens” is a song about friendship, inspired by particular people. When things feel overwhelming, tuning into a relationship/friendship with someone who needs you can keep you grounded, and keep you both moving forwards. When you feel alone/disconnected, all the noise in the world can make you feel far away/detached and being there for someone else can be really good for you, even if it’s just at the end of the phone.
Visualiser videoed by Olivia Ferrara. Capturing the intimacy and significance of connection and closeness in a friendship. There’s so much noise going on in the world, and having someone who needs you by their side and needs your reassurance, can lift a weight of your own self. We tried to express how powerful this intimacy is through the various outdoor locations shown in the video, and also through more home-video style moments with Sam and Tom, who we wrote the song with, and who are definitely those friends for us.
Live session: Filmed by Olivia in our old high school gymnasium/volleyball court. The lamps and plants both helped create the intimacy we feel the song depicts, and also represent the busyness in the world surrounding your friendship. We wanted to do this song live, recreating the kind of atmosphere in the room when we were writing it together.
Artwork: a window in Amy’s house, reflecting verse one imagery

Lichtenberg Figures

Lichtenberg Figures are the scars that form in sort of branch-like patterns on skin when someone is hit by lightning. We wrote this one with Sam Griffiths of The Howl & The Hum, and he told us what they were. We began writing before we knew what direction the song was going in, but were fascinated with how beautiful something can look that comes from something so intensely dangerous and powerful.
The song speaks to anyone who thinks the difficulty they’ve faced, whatever that may be, makes them seem weak to others, when in fact they are just coming into their own because of what they’ve been through. We’ve definitely both come out the other side of something which has made us feel very low and vulnerable, but the self-discovery and growth on the other side can be beautiful and life-changing in such a positive way.
Artwork: an image of Lichtenberg Figures

I Don’t Know Why

We weren’t involved in the writing process of this song. Tom sent it to us after writing it, and we immediately felt it. We’ve not ever really been able to explain why it resonates with us so much but the song is about wanting to understand someone you love, and being unable to. It depicts searching for a better connection with them by trying to throw yourself into things they believe in and love, and neither person getting anything from it. Broadly, it’s an overall commentary on how complicated close relationships can be, and how the differences in the way we live our lives and follow what we think, can affect our understanding of each other, and equally of ourselves.
Artwork: Roses, as mentioned in verse 1.

34 Days

The closest we’ve got so far to a break up song. “34 Days” is the exhaustion after looking after someone for a long time, having worked so hard towards something, for it all to be gone, leaving you alone, disorientated and tired. Your mind is healing and there’s more space for you, and maybe less heaviness, but it’s numb. ‘I’ll be waiting just around the bend’ – out of sight, but not quite let go of yet.
Sometimes this sadness can be so heavy all you want to do is escape your own thoughts and be in unfamiliar places. The initial song inspiration came from the imagery in Garden Song by Phoebe Bridgers. The verses express all the thoughts and frustrations in the mind, while the chorus’s repetition represents emptiness and being exhausted of yourself.
Artwork: Dried/dead daffodils – a change in season, a beautiful thing lost.

Grown Out of You

This was a fun co-write with Rachel, who we also wrote our last single release, ‘Don’t Mind The Weather’ with. Inspired by being back home for a while and the nostalgia and curiosity attached to this, looking online at old school friends’ lives. You forget life goes on while you’re away but when you come back expecting things to have remained, it’s fairly easy to accept that things have changed. A bittersweet feeling. Not necessarily a good or bad thing, just a comparison of the different choices made and how you grow away from those you once knew so well. We’ve both had [and still have] periods of feeling lacking in direction and stability, and when seeing others so secure, have to remind ourselves that it’s absolutely okay to not be sure of anything sometimes.
Artwork: a photo of a suitcase of antiques, once-precious items forgotten by someone.

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:: stream/purchase Sunflower Thieves here ::

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Someone To Be There For - Sunflower Thieves

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? © Sophie Jouvenaar
art © Adam Illingworth

:: Stream Sunflower Thieves ::

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