July Skies is a West Midlands (UK) based recording project commenced by Antony Harding in 1997, who has released four albums and two EPs since 2000 on the Rocket Girl and Make Mine Music labels. July Skies is heavily inspired by faded innocence and lost times and attempt to capture this through music and design. The project is often assisted by long time collaborators Benjamin T Holton and Robert Glover from the band epic45. July Skies has received support from the late John Peel and Rob Da Bank of BBC Radio1, Verity Sharp of BBC Radio3, Stuart Maconie on BBC Radio6, BBC Bristol and ChillFM.
Lost youth, fractured memories of the 1970’s, pylons across fields, abandoned airfields, endless childhood summers, dappled sunlight through leaves, forgotten England, the romance of the heavens well after closing time, countryside, mornings in May, ruins, faded innocence, post-war Britain, skies of all seasons, trudging coastlines, Super8, Festival of Britain 1951, memories made with a Polaroid Landcam 103, Henry Moore, overgrown follies, East Anglia, time spent amongst long summer grasses, kissing under motorway bridges, grey English rain filled skies, concrete precincts and tower blocks, suburbia, old Ordnance Survey maps, lost airmen, Orford Ness, rustic charm, John Nash, Avebury, icy mornings and clear blue skies, poppy day, a half remembered smile, 1960’s artwork by Harry Wingfield, John Berry, Martin Aitchinson, C F Tunnicliffe, Ronald Lampitt, BST, municipal parks at dusk, love, infatuation and loss.
Where did those sunny summer Saturday afternoons go in the mid 1990s that seemed to stretch forever? Lying in a suburban garden listening to John Peel’s afternoon show as the sun was occasionally obscured by clouds…trains into Birmingham to Highway61, Tempest Records, Swordfish and The Plastic Factory to obtain new musical gems…trains out of Birmingham with found records and inspiration from artists on Sarah Records (Blueboy, Brighter, Secret Shine, The Hit Parade, Another Sunny Day etc.), a graceful Australian band called Hydroplane and British bands such as Flying Saucer Attack, Slowdive, Aphex Twin, Seefeel, The House of Love etc.
Everything seemed possible at the end of youth and there was a need to capture feelings and a growing interest in exploring towns, villages, ruins, abandoned places and the countryside through sound. Frustrated attempts on an old Spanish guitar ensued. In 1997, I bought a Fender Stratacaster (originally owned by Pete Holder from the Birmingham band Anarakula), a battered delay pedal, learnt a few chords and created July Skies with the aim to release a 7″ record…
Work continues on the fifth July Skies album A Day In The Country and the e.p. Playgrounds Of The City.