"We’re not afraid of guitars, but I’m fairly sure there are no hidden dubstep or metal influences lurking" - The Staves talk to hmv.com
The Staves have been making friends far and wide with their extraordinarily charming blend of folk harmonies and pop melodies. As their new album, If I Was, is readying itself for release, we chat to sisters Jessica, Camilla and Emily Staveley-Taylor about sisterhood, the perception of folk music, and influences.
As you know, the history of pop music is littered with unbrotherly love from The Kinks to Oasis. Is it any different for sisters?
Jessica: “The positive is that we instinctually know what each other’s needs are. If we’re feeling a bit down, for example… Also, because we’re so close, we can be quite horrible to each other but most of the time that’s fine. Give us five minutes and we’ll get over it!”
Camilla: “Normally with friends, things are left unsaid and they fester. With us, there isn’t anything we haven’t already said to each other.”
Emily: “Being family we’ve had to go from being sisters to being in a band together, whereas most people have to go through the process of learning almost how to be a family. They’re thrown together, and so it can be quite hard to describe the dynamic, not really knowing how it is the other way. You can have discussions as a band and it’s just about music, not personal. So sometimes, you just need to get out of the sister roles that have been there from the very start of our lives.”
One of the perceptions about folk is that it’s all very sweet, but some lyrics are as honest as they come, aren’t they?
Jessica: “Well, we’re not a band who are not protesting or making a political statement with our music. What we are is self-confessional, if that isn’t too cringe-worthy a term.”
Emily: “It changes from song to song, obviously. I read somewhere that Paul Simon never wants to tell anyone what his lyrics are about… That isn’t a bad idea!”
You started out as teenagers singing at open-mic evenings in your local pubs; it’s somewhat unusual, isn’t it, for teenagers to gravitate towards folk music?
Camilla: “Although our parents were musical, and had a great collection of records, they didn’t write songs, so that was something we got from other people. Of course, doing so many covers at the beginning helped us in getting to know song structure, and what music we actually liked to write.”
Jessica: “In terms of traditional folk around our house when we were growing up, there was a smattering of what you would think – Joni Mitchell, and so on. But there was also a lot of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Carole King. We’d always be writing jokey songs, and when we started playing covers at the local pub we got into it far more seriously.”
And surely there were, and are, other influences?
Jessica: “We’re not afraid of guitars, but I’m fairly sure there are no hidden dubstep or metal influences lurking.”
Emily: “The music we have a more common ground with is the music that we write and sing.”
Camilla: “I have a liking for grime and electronic music, but, you know, we just sort of fell into this. It feels that we’d always done it, and before we knew what happened we were a band. We never, for instance, sat down and had a conversation about what kind of band we were going to be. We just did it, and then the music came about.”
The Staves' new album If I Was will be released on Monday (March 23rd). You can pre-order the album in hmv stores now.