Rising stars Foreign Affairs on songwriting and family ties


A shared love of songwriting and Americana music unites brothers Lawrence and Adam Purnell. The Bristol lads, who perform as Foreign Affairs, are rising stars on the UK country scene thanks to their well-crafted songs and passionate vocals.

The duo have enjoyed support from BBC Radio 2 and performed at C2C, Cambridge Folk Festival and Summertyne.

Lead vocalist Lawrence spoke to iSingmag about working with family, the writing process and new EP The Old Fire Station.

How did you two get started in music?

Adam started playing classical guitar at around seven years old and studied at a Music Conservatoire. I started with musical theatre at 14, before learning to play guitar and eventually writing songs of my own. This is when we came together and started making music.

When did you decide to pursue music as a profession?

It was Adam’s objective from a young age. I realised it when we started touring and recording – it was pretty clear that it was all we wanted to do. We’re brothers so working together was the obvious choice. In terms of songwriting, we complement each other. I think that’s the most important thing for our dynamic.

How does the songwriting process work for Foreign Affairs?

Usually we collaborate after I’ve written a primitive form of the song. I take it to Adam and he structures the track instrumentally and arranges guitar parts around the lyrics and melodies that I have written. Some songs are written in parts over a few months and some fly out on the day.

Why did you go down the Americana route?

Our Mum and Dad played us great Americana/ roots music while we were growing up. They introduced us to Rodney Crowell, Neil Young and Jackson Browne. I think what you listen to growing up has a massive effect on the route you take as a musician and songwriter.

Who are your musical inspirations?

The Divine Comedy, James Taylor, Neil Young, Rodney Crowell and Jason Isbell.

Where did the inspiration for your new EP The Old Fire Station come from?

The songs were a culmination of the experiences, stories and inspirations that we’ve come across over the past three years. We recorded it in our hometown of Bristol, in one of the city’s oldest fire stations.

Have you had singing lessons?

Classical tuition. I just unfortunately didn’t have the moustache for the Go Compare advert!

What is the music scene like in Bristol?

There’s a great selection of independent venues that support grassroots artists. We love The Louisiana in particular, which is where we’re hosting our record launch on January 19.

How do you warm up/prepare for a gig?

We used to have a strict no drinking policy before we play, but we’ve now realised that one pint before the show loosens you up and calms the nerves!

What’s in store for Foreign Affairs this year?

We will release more music to follow up The Old Fire Station and have some exciting festivals and tours to announce. We may also make our way across the pond to test the waters.

Website: foreignaffairsmusic.co.uk

To read five top tips on songwriting CLICK HERE.

Our mission is to empower the singer through their voice, performance, health, understanding of the biz, and mindset so they can go out and create to their heart’s content.