One Far Sun on Picking up Where They Left Off

The musicians of Nova’s Basement broke up and reformed later as One Far Sun

By David Templeton | From the May-June 2024 issue of Strings Magazine

In early 2024, an attention-grabbing single titled “Inside” was released by what appeared to be a new UK-based all-female trio named One Far Sun. With aching vocals floating over a melodious foundation of violin, cello, and subtle electronics, the song created a bit of a buzz, assisted by a haunting video that simultaneously appeared on YouTube. A few weeks later, a second single was released, the politically potent “The People in Between,” along with a similarly captivating video.

Taken together, the two tracks sparked a small but fast-spreading firestorm of questions and curiosity as to where these newcomers came from. At the same time, fans of a long-dissolved UK folk band named Nova’s Basement instantly recognized in the music of One Far Sun the sound of the beloved trio that stopped touring nearly 12 years ago. Featuring songwriter-vocalist Amy Wagner, cellist Fiona Di Carlo, and violinist Rachel Menzies, Nova’s Basement—named after Musica Nova, the Russian music school in King’s Cross where the trio once rehearsed—never released an album during its time gigging around the UK and Australia in the 2000s and early 2010s.

Fans also recalled that two of Nova’s Basement’s most popular songs were titled “Inside” and “The People in the Middle.” A little too similar to be coincidental. 

Jumping ahead, the band now called One Far Sun is indeed a re-teaming of that earlier ensemble, though the threesome has remained friends all along. In fact, two of them—Di Carlo and Menzies—are sisters. Technically, all that’s new is the name and a revitalized energy to make music together after a dozen years starting families, pursuing careers, and exploring the world on their own.

To properly explain how Nova’s Basement broke up and reformed later as One Far Sun, the musicians—during a Zoom interview uniting at least three different countries—elect to start the story at the very beginning.

“We’re all from Australia, but we found each other in London,” says Wagner, whose idea it was to start a band almost two decades ago. “There’s a great website in the UK called Gumtree, where you post things. It’s a bit like Craigslist in the States. I posted an ad on Gumtree looking for a violinist and a cellist. In my mind, the music I’d been writing needed that. Rachel answered the email, and we set up an audition—which seems crazy now because we’ve basically become best friends. So, we started to play together, and about six months later, Fi joined us.”

One Far Sun, People In the Middle
One Far Sun, People In the Middle

Di Carlo recalls the moment she first learned her sister had joined a music group. “I remember Rachel saying, ‘There’s this new girl I met, and we’re going to start playing together, and we’re starting a band,’” she says. “There was another cellist in the band at the time, and a pianist. But I started playing with them, and things evolved, eventually, into being just the three of us.”

After several years of playing together, writing music, and touring, Di Carlo decided to return to Australia. At the same time, with motherhood and career projects taking each of them down separate paths, it made sense to disband Nova’s Basement and simply look at their time together as a wonderful experience that they’d always cherish.

Skipping ahead to 2023, the three friends arranged a get-together to reminisce and maybe play some music together. “We all gathered at an Airbnb in Copenhagen for a boozy weekend, to catch up, just as mates,” says Menzies. “So we ordered loads of red wine and cheese, and at one point, sitting around the table, we started playing some of our old demos. And as we had always done, we got really excited talking about the music.”


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“‘Just imagine if we’d played it like this?’ Or ‘What if we’d done it like that?’” says Di Carlo, recreating the spirited exchanges they shared during that well-fated meet-up.

“Before the weekend was over, we’d made a pact that we would start again, start writing again and recording some of these old songs again,” says Menzies. “We’re all a little bit older now, and, as Amy has pointed out, some of us have kids. We’ve lived more of our lives. We have a bit more confidence now.”

Wagner remembers coming back from the Copenhagen trip and sitting on her couch, suddenly overcome with emotion. “I was just crying and crying, because I realized that I’d forgotten, really, that I was a musician, that I had a body of work that had once been such a big part of our lives,” she says. “There were all of these people in my life who didn’t know that about me, that I was once a musician and a songwriter—and that seems a bit wrong, doesn’t it?”

On the Zoom call, all three heads nod in agreement. “So,” Wagner says, “we came back with a whole new energy, didn’t we girls?”

Having started a brand-new chapter of their musical lives, the three friends decided they needed a new name too. The first suggestion was ‘One More Sun,’ borrowing from a lyric in one of the group’s songs. “We seriously considered that,” says Di Carlo, “but then Amy came up with ‘F-A-R,’ which was ‘Fiona Amy Rachel,’ wasn’t it? So, we became ‘One Far Sun,’ which just sounded right.”

What also sounded right was the music. As they began working together again, the trio initially tackled old favorites they hadn’t performed together in years, and quickly found that they’d all become better musicians, and better as a trio, over the last decade. “Honestly, I don’t think I’m as good a violinist, technically, as I was when I was younger, but emotionally, I think I’m quite a bit better now,” says Menzies. “I’ve grown as a person. I’ve had experiences, and I know how to put all that heart into my playing.”

One Far Sun cellist Fiona Di Carlo recording in studio
One Far Sun cellist Fiona Di Carlo. Photo: Amy Wagner.

When it came time to record their first single, Wagner was not certain she could still do it. “I haven’t sung professionally in such a long time, just jamming around the house sometimes. I was actually quite nervous,” she says, “but I think I actually sound better than I did before. And Fi and Rachel are so good, it just feels like this was meant to be.”

“What’s surprised me the most is how natural it’s all been,” adds Di Carlo, “almost like we’d never taken a break at all.”

Their approach to arranging has grown as well, marking a significant evolution from what it was. “Our music still has that pureness of Amy’s songwriting, but we’ve really developed the sound,” says Menzies. “We’ve maybe stripped it back a bit. The strings are still there, of course, but in a more mature way, I think. There are fewer folky embellishments, and a more modern, cinematic sound.”


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Asked to describe that sound, perhaps suggesting in what category it belongs in a record shop, Di Carlo says it’s a topic they’ve always wrestled with, and now more than ever. The electronica element of some songs excludes them from the folk category, but putting them in electronica ignores their folk roots. 

“Now that we’ve released ‘People in the Middle,’ we’re being grouped into this kind of ’90s space of Mazzy Star, Massive Attack, those kinds of bands,” she says. “It’s really interesting how fluid our sound is. No one knows how to categorize us. We’ve always been sort of in the folk genre, but then you add our approach to strings to the mix, and it’s just confused everyone further. People are like, ‘Where does this fit? This kind of strings-led, but sometimes vocal-heavy, sound?’ We really struggle with this every time we release a single. What box do we select on the Spotify drop-down? It’s a little tricky sometimes, but we like it that way.”

She brings up the recording of “Inside” as an example. “Originally, it was a little bit more folky,” she says. “We did a bit more pizzicato. This time, we wanted it to sound bigger, more cinematic. That’s where Rob Aiken, our producer—who’s a fantastic session guitarist and music producer—really helped us out, stripping back that pizzicato, but still doing a lot with the strings.”

“It’s a completely new way of playing it, actually,” says Menzies.

“People in the Middle” has also benefitted from the trio’s musical and emotional growth. 

“That song, particularly, has evolved incredibly,” Wagner says.


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“It has a lot more strings now,” says Di Carlo. “The cello has become the main instrument in the track. It was quite by chance. When were in the studio to record it, I was improvising, playing a lot of ideas that popped into my head, different rich, melodic tunes, and Rob took bits and pieces of what I played and sort of assembled them and put it into the forefront. And we all went, ‘Wow!’”

“The cello brought a whole new emotional element to it,” agrees Menzies, adding, “Our next two singles will be ‘Hello, Old Friend,’ which is a brand new one, a very vocal-heavy love song to Australia, with lovely three-part harmonies, and then one that doesn’t have a name yet. We’re very excited about it.”

“It’s absolutely, one hundred percent a female empowerment song,” says Wagner. “But it doesn’t have a negative feel to it, like some anthems do. It’s not angry in any way. It’s just positive. We can’t wait to share it.”

For the time being, “sharing” will be done solely in the recording studio, with no immediate plans to take the stage again. “We made the decision to just really focus on recording, to do some amazing, tangible things we can be proud of,” explains Menzies. “We just want to keep creating and finding our sound, and getting it recorded and getting it released. We’ve really enjoyed doing these singles, one at a time, evolving and pivoting as we go. We want to keep doing it like this for a while.”

One element of the recording process that Menzies would like to do more of is producing. “I’ve discovered I really enjoy the role of producer,” she says. “I suppose I’ve always been the least confident member of the group, as a musician, as a violinist. But I’ve really enjoyed being part of bringing all the sounds together in the studio, directing what happens and how, finding ideas and solving problems. I’ve really found a lot of joy in that.” 

Asked if they’ll be putting out an album in the future, they grow silent again. “What do you think, girls?” asks Wagner. “We haven’t really discussed it, but I think that’s probably going to happen eventually. What makes the most sense right now, given the way the music industry currently stands, is to record and release singles every so often. Our process right now is to just keep writing. Keep creating. Keep making music together. Just keep doing it.”