Blissful sibling harmony returns to Liverpool
It has been a career defining few months for Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor, the three sisters who collectively make up THE STAVES. Having already supported The Civil Wars in the USA in January and Michael Kiwanuka across the UK in February, they recently concluded Communion’s ‘Austin to Boston Tour’ with Ben Howard, on top of a successful debut trip to Austin’s SXSW Music Festival. The group’s Motherlode EP landed earlier this month to enthusiastic reviews, ahead of the Glyn and Ethan Johns-produced (whose combined credits include the likes of The Rolling Stones, Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, Kings Of Leon, and Laura Marling to name but a few) debut LP due later this year. Oh, and they’re about to go out on the road with Bon Iver…pretty exciting we’re sure you’ll agree. Emma Bassnett caught up with Jessica ahead of the band’s UK and Ireland headline run calling in at The Kazimier on 18th April.
Bido Lito!: I imagine you have been making music together since you were old enough to bang your building blocks in your high chair, but was the process difficult to transfer into the basis for a career?
The Staves: It has been difficult in some ways because we always sang together for fun, and even when we started performing out of the house it was just for a laugh with our mates. We never had the confidence to think of it as more than that. We all went off to plan for the future because we didn’t think it could be a long term plan, but it was only when we got really busy with gigs and it took up all our time that we realised our potential. It crept up on us without any force. It was unorganised and haphazard.
BL!: How has your sound developed? Did you start out with different ideas and aspirations as to how you wanted you music to resonate, or is your image and style something that has been pre-conceived and worked upon since the outset?
TS: Our sound is essentially the same, just the three of us singing together. In many ways it hasn’t changed, I just hope we’ve got better. We did a few early recordings where we would experiment with sounds and you just learn what is working well and what is not so much. It helped us to settle on the less is more vibe.
BL!: As three sisters, you automatically have something that sets you apart from a lot of other bands. Has this been a help or a hindrance to you as you are trying to break into the industry?
TS: It’s been a help really, to us it’s normal to be sisters, but it’s a point of interest to others. Not something we really shout about when we are on stage so they may or may not know, but it’s something people remember you by which can only be a good thing.
BL!: You have been likened to Laura Marling and Joni Mitchell. Where do you pull your inspiration from? Are there any specific things besides music that inspire you?
TS: Music is our main inspiration but also life and experiences of other people, friends or family, news, reading a book, they all sink in and they all come out through the music. Some people are really heavily into one source, but we just pull it from other music mainly.
BL!: You have the Motherlode EP out now and an album due later this year. How long have you been writing the material for this? Does it flow thick and fast or is it a work in progress, something that takes time?
TS: They say your first album is like a life’s work, then your second album is like a year, so I guess it is like our life’s work to an extent, a mix of things we’ve had for a long time and new material leading up to the studio sessions, it’s a good combination of new and old.
BL!: What is your impression of how has your new material been received?
TS: I don’t know if we are at the stalking stage yet, though our mum checks our Facebook regularly. We’ve sold out some gigs for the UK tour we have coming up and we are playing the biggest venues that we have headlined so far. It’s important to play in the UK and build a fan base at home. We have started to get people in the crowd mouthing the lyrics and singing along and it’s really cool.
BL!: You studied music at LIPA and I know that your sisters spent some time in Liverpool as a band. How did you find the city? Where abouts did you frequent, gig-wise, and are you looking forward to your return?
TS: I loved Liverpool and I miss it a lot. I had an amazing time here. It’s such a musical city with a rich history. It is constantly ploughing forward rather than holding on to its old successes. We got a great response when we gigged in places like Studio 2, 3345, The Kazimier and The Masque. Because I was at LIPA and my family have a history here it was so natural. We have family on the Wirral too. Our favourite band is The Beatles so it was meant to be. I still keep in touch with Stealing Sheep, Jethro Fox, and Eye Emma Jedi, who were at school with me.
BL!: What has been the highlight of your 2012 so far?
TS: Probably the Austin to Boston tour we just got back from straight after doing SXSW. We were there with Ben Howard, Nathaniel Rateliff and Bears Den. We had a little camper convoy across the USA. Without being too sentimental, it was a life changing tour for all of us.