Folk trio hit a rich vein of material on their debut album

Vena Portae, with Emily Barker on the right.
Vena Portae, with Emily Barker on the right.
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When not trying to corner the market in soundtracking crime dramas or playing with her band Red Clay Halo, Emily Barker has been busy with a new project – Vena Portae.

The Anglo-Swedish alt-folk band comprises Bafta award-winning singer-songwriter Barker, songwriter and performer Dom Coyote, and Swedish producer and multi-instrumentalist Ruben Engzell.

With a name that means ‘vein portal’ in Latin, the band were inspired by ideas of roads, rivers, veins, portals, creative openings, connections between people, places and life force.

Emily described the genesis of the group: ‘It started about five years ago with me and Dom Coyote. He was in Cornwall’s Kneehigh Theatre, and they had a show running for a long time at Battersea Arts Centre. Then when he got a residency there he invited me to come and write some songs with him.

‘We sort of sat on those songs for quite a while until we realised we needed another person to kick us up the bums to get on and do some more with them.

‘I thought of Ruben – he actually engineered and produced my very first solo album when we both lived in London.

‘We hadn’t collaborated for years and years, but we’d been looking for the right project to work on.

‘We wrote a lot more songs as a trio and we recorded the songs at his parents’ home, a couple of hours south of Stockholm in a place called Mölnbo, where it was minus 16 degrees outside. His parents live in this beautiful, traditional wooden house – it was very magical.’

Emily has recorded four albums with Red Clay Halo and she will be back with them at the Wedgewood Rooms on November 13, but says: ‘Vena Portae is a more collaborative process. With Halo, I write the songs and bring them to the group and we arrange them together, but with Vena Portae we’ve been writing the songs together. The sound is very different too, mostly because of the instruments involved, where Vena Portae is more of an alt-pop-rock-folk band.’

Emily won a Bafta after her song Nostalgia was used for the English-language remake of the Scand-noir Wallander thrillers, and her song Pause later became the theme to the acclaimed drama The Shadow Line.

The self-titled album is out on Monday and they will be at The Square Tower, Old Portsmouth, on Thursday, August 21. Tickets are £6, doors open 7pm. Go to