The Staves’ Blood Harmony

“There are loads of really cool sister bands at the moment – Haim and First Aid Kit – there’s something to be said for blood harmonies,” Emily Staveley-Taylor tells...

The Staves photo 1

“There are loads of really cool sister bands at the moment – Haim and First Aid Kit – there’s something to be said for blood harmonies,” Emily Staveley-Taylor tells me.  Emily is one-third of English sister trio The Staves (along with Jessica and Camilla).  I had just asked her if she has any particular favorite sibling acts, at which point she initially offered a sigh of relief, saying “Oh, my god, I thought you were going to ask if I have a favorite sibling.”  I chatted with Emily from the final Saturday of this year’s SXSX, where she seemed to be more relaxed and enthusiastic than any other act I talked to who attended the Austin music festival this year (Of course, it wasn’t her first time.)

“It’s been a really good one this year… We saw Half Moon Run.  They played at the church and that was just amazing… We saw the Haim girls last night and they’re playing again tonight. We’re gonna tear it up with them.”

This Tuesday, March 19th, The Staves debut LP will finally see its release this side of the Atlantic courtesy of… well, Atlantic Records.  The album, Dead & Born & Grown, contains songs that were composed and recorded throughout the past three years, some of which have even been previously released: “Some of the songs are the first we ever wrote and some were written just recently.”  The album’s sound blends traditional Americana with a certain sun-kissed aesthetic reminiscent of Southern California.  The songs tend to be short, simple, and to-the-point, without a hint of pomp or pretentions.  In addition to appropriating a number of more traditional folk sounds, The Staves also took a more traditional approach to the album’s recording: “We tried to make a very honest record.  We recorded it all live, sitting in one room.  Vocals are at the forefront, the guitars are at the forefront, there are no special effects.”

Emily tells me that the sisters’ biggest musical influence has always been the Fab 4… although not necessarily for the same reasons so many musicians would tend to agree: “I think the Beatles are really underrated as a harmony band.  And they’re a band that makes real albums.  Now we live in a time when you just download an MP3 of one song, but that’s not how I like to experience music.”  However, she says that likely the most significant influence is, “The amount we’ve been traveling and the people we meet on the road.”  The band have already toured alongside some pretty huge acts, including Bon Iver (who called them “The best live singing group I’ve ever heard.”) and the Civil Wars and, according to Emily, those times are some of the most influential she’s experienced in recent years: “They’re such intense experiences of being on the road and being in each others’ pockets… and you really get to know these people… and then maybe you never see them again.”  She tells me that one of the highlights of touring was getting to open for Bon Iver and Feist at Red Rocks: “We’re huge Feist fans and she’s just the coolest cat in town.”

Although The Staves are yet to get the full Philthy experience, Emily does tell me she is a fan of the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection: “I slept in the camper in the van on the street that night, so we never had time to fully explore, but Philadelphia’s great… Philadelphia and Seattle… there’s a special European feel there that you don’t get in New York, or certainly not on most of the West Coast.”  However, The Staves will likely be back around when they tour the US in May and June.  In addition, they will be playing with a full band for the first time in the US, as opposed to the three sisters doing it acoustic.  And as far as their plans for the rest of the year, Emily seems to be quite thankful for the current state of the band and have few worries: “The hope is just to carry on doing what we’re doing.  Every time we get to record or be out on the road is just the greatest thing.”

Band Interviews

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.