Jeff Andersen Jnr.

In February 2023, the sibling duo act Charm of Finches spent a month in rural Nova Scotia. Far from their home in Australia, the sisters, Mabel and Ivy Windred-Wornes, were steeped in Canadian winter landscapes and reflections on touring and life as musicians. The result of this magical retreat is their fourth studio album Marlinchen In The Snow.

Dark and dreamy, Marlinchen In The Snow takes inspiration from the Grimm’s fairy tale “The Juniper Tree” and takes listeners on a journey through Mabel and Ivy’s understanding of a lifetime of music with a mystical twist. We caught up with Charm of Finches for a look at their work and Marlinchen In The Snow.

Showstopper Magazine Online: Hello! Tell us a bit about yourselves. 

Charm of Finches: Hi! We are Mabel and Ivy Windred-Wornes; we’re sisters and we live in Melbourne, Australia. We’re releasing our fourth studio album and touring around the world sharing our songs with people—we feel pretty lucky to be doing this! 

SMO: What led the two of you to music and later to form a duo act? How did you find your home in the folk-pop genre?

Mabel: We started our duo, Charm of Finches, way back in 2014 when we were still in school. We went to Steiner School where you learn to play instruments in school at age 9 and sing every day in class. We’ve sung together since we were kids. We were surrounded by music from a young age. Mum was in bands when she was in her twenties and then led choirs when we were young. Dad is a big music lover and has always been obsessed with Bob Dylan which was played in the background of our childhood. We’d busk on the streets at ages 8 and 11 (lots of songs from the O’ Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack), and then we played folk festivals around Australia. I guess our folk roots from our childhood meld with our more contemporary influences like Sufjan Stevens, Adrianne Lenker, and Massive Attack to lead to our sound.

SMO: You are multi-instrumentalists. What instruments do you two play in Marlinchen In The Snow?

Ivy: Yes! I play keys and Mabel plays guitar. We also played and arranged the strings on the album—me on violin and Mabel on cello. There’s also a bit of banjo on there that I played. 

SMO: What inspired the witchy, 90s Hocus Pocus-esque art for this album?

Ivy: We worked with the incredible photographer Jeff Andersen Jnr here in Melbourne on a photoshoot that became the album artwork. We had recorded the album already at that point, and we let the music inspire the aesthetic. We feel lots of the songs have an underlying darkness and fairytale mystical element, and so we wanted to capture something like that visually. We had a vision of ruins and this idea of finding light in the darkness—a theme in lots of the songs. 

We’ve always been inspired by pre-raphaelite paintings so that aesthetic is in there too. We are wearing vintage wedding dresses from second-hand shops that we dyed different colors. 

SMO: Do you have a favorite song from Marlinchen In The Snow?

Mabel: It’s hard to pick a favorite song on the album but maybe “Leave It All Behind.” It feels very raw and vulnerable. It was one of those songs that was written really quickly like it was already written. I was about to leave home on a long tour and was feeling both sad to leave the people I loved but excited for an adventure. This is a bit of a recurring theme throughout the album since a lot of the songs were written when we toured the UK and Europe for four months in 2022. We had lots of fun creating textures in this song. We tracked some harp, banjo, and nylon guitar with foam under the strings to make that cool muted sound. 

SMO: How do you think the title track and its inspiration, “The Juniper Tree,” capture the tone of the entire album?

Ivy: We recorded the album in Nova Scotia, Canada in the middle of their snowy winter and the title track “Marlinchen In The Snow” was inspired by the beautiful landscape which to us was like it was from a fairytale. It reminded us of the Grimm’s fairytale called “The Juniper Tree” which we were told when we were kids. It’s a haunting tale of how Marlinchen discovers the death of her stepbrother at the hands of her mother. Marlinchen then gathers the bones of her brother and places them under the Juniper tree and he turns into a bird who flies out from the tree and sings the truth of his death. This crept into the song. There’s lots of symbolism in the story but really, it’s about female strength and intuition – overcoming obstacles led by your inner voice – which is a theme throughout the album. 

SMO: Marlinchen In The Snow is your fourth album. Where are you now compared to when you released your debut album?

Mabel: With every album we push our musical boundaries more and more! We recorded our first full-length album when we were 14 and 16, so we’ve definitely come a long way since then. With Marlinchen In The Snow, we were really excited to just explore musically and see what would happen. We embraced our love for 90s tripop in the production and experimented a lot with vocal ear candy which you can hear in Clean Cut in particular. Our producer Daniel Ledwell is so much fun to work with and brings a different musical perspective which makes exploring so interesting! He’s amazing at finding that sound that you can only vaguely describe from your imagination. 

SMO: The reactions to the album range from bewitched to obsessed! What has been your favorite part of sharing this project with the world?

Mabel: We’ve loved performing these songs live! It’s always so much fun playing new songs and working out how to bring them into a live setting with a lot less instruments to the recording. 

SMO: You are gearing up for a summer of performances! Where are you most excited to perform?

Ivy: We love playing in the UK! The audiences are so attentive and appreciative. We’re pretty excited about playing The Lexington in London. It looks like a great room. We’ll also be playing in Sweden and Canada (dates TBA)!

SMO: What are your favorite (or least favorite!) parts of live performances?

Mabel: I think our favorite and simultaneously least favorite is learning to sing these new songs because they are very challenging to perform live. We always do this to ourselves! Write songs that are really hard to sing… But it’s fun because it forces us to improve our singing.

SMO: Are there any songs you will be performing live for the first time?

Ivy: We are currently on an Australian Tour and a lot of the songs are new to the set—”Middle Of Your Mess,” “If You Know Me,” “Marlinchen In The Snow” and “Atlantis.”

Marlinchen In the Snow is out now!

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Veronica Good has been with Showstopper Magazine since 2016. When she isn't keeping you updated on the latest trends, she is at home with her many pets or probably playing The Sims 4. Veronica has a BA in English and an MA in writing from Coastal Carolina University. She is also a writer of fiction and poetry, and her work can be found in Archarios, Tempo, and Scapegoat.