"Country music has all the qualities - it's dance music and hangover music, but with indie guitar stuff to the fore in recent times, it's been hard to get other cultures recognised. It's hard enough to get blues over, but country!" So says 21-year-old Ross Godfrey of mellow beats trio Morcheeba, for whom 1998 will be a huge year.

"Record companies doubted us blending banjos with beats and so for the first album we did the more sparse trip-hop sounding stuff to get a deal," he reveals. It certainly worked. Morcheeba's debut Who Can You Trust? recorded worldwide sales around the half million mark. David Byrne heard it and got the Morcheeba team to produce half of his latest album. "Now we have broken loose and put all that stuff back in," he says. "They were there on the first album but not as much as we would have liked."

Their second album, Big Calm, threatens to dwarf the sales of their debut and it draws on so many influences, that the term eclectic is an understatement. "We call it multi-cultural folk," chips in Paul Godfrey, Ross's older brother, the one who adds the loops, beats and lyrics to the Morcheeba sound.

"With the new record, it seems that most people like one particular track," continues Ross. "Be it the reggae, the country or the hip-hop one. They are easy reference points for people who are into different styles and tunes. Then if they listen to the rest they will probably end up liking other ones too."

One of the stand-out tracks on the melodious masterpiece of Big Calm is "Part of the Process". "We wanted to write a song that Dolly Parton could sing and get that poppy cheesy country vibe," Ross enthuses. "During the verses it's dark with synths and a hip-hop beat and in the chorus it goes ridiculously happy with Cajun fiddles and pedal steel. We had to restrain Skye from yodelling."

Skye Edwards, the group's singer, isn't here today, lounging around the Cheeba Central studio in south London, as she recently gave birth to her second child, just weeks before the band go out on a worldwide tour. "Yeah, Skye felt really at home with that track," continues Ross. "The person who inspired her to start singing was Patsy Cline - Skye was adopted and brought up by white parents who were into country music."

Meanwhile, the Godfreys were growing up in Kent. "Paul was into hip-hop, and I was into the Funkadelic end of blues acid rock. We met in the middle with Dylan for the lyrical content and merged hip-hop beats with blues guitar. Since we've been doing it for some time I think it sounds natural. We really want to build a reputation as songwriters - what sets us apart from other beats outfits is that every Morcheeba song starts out on acoustic guitars."

Morcheeba and Chineseburn, Shepherds Bush Empire (0181 740 7474) 27 March

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