Words: Jennifer Lynn
Image: Rebecca Miller
Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor are the trio of Watford-born, folk rock singing sisters, known as The Staves. Having built a quiet cult following with EPs including ‘Facing West’, ‘Mexico’ and ‘The Motherlode’, the girls released their harmonic debut album ‘Dead & Born & Grown’ in November 2012, and have been on the road pretty much ever since.
Pinning them down in Rotterdam on a sunny Monday morning in August, we got on the blower to Emily, to find out just what’s good with The Staves right now.
We hear you guys are somewhere in Scandinavia right now?
We’re actually in Rotterdam and I can’t get the bloody Beautiful South out of my head!
Amazing, what are you doing there?
We’ve just been doing a little tour in Europe, mainly of European festivals, but we’ve been doing some of our own gigs in Holland. It’s been really fun; we were in Utrecht the other day and we’re going to Groningen tomorrow. It’s so cool. The land of a million bicycles! It’s a very chilled out way of life.
You girls have been spending a lot of time in America recently; how has that been?
Yeah that’s been great, it’s always so much fun to go over there, it just feels like a big adventure in a massive playground. You get to visit all the places that you’ve heard about in films or seen on the TV when you were growing up. It’s always awesome.
How receptive have you found the audiences over there?
They’ve been absolutely fab, kind of similar to the UK, although maybe a bit more vocal. They shout things out quite a lot in the middle of gigs: “Welcome to Kansas!” “Which one’s the eldest?!”
Where is your favourite place you’ve played so far, in the US or elsewhere?
I have to say that Holland’s been really cool. We did a festival last year, called Into The Great Wide Open, which is on an island called Vlieland. There are no cars there, because it’s too small, so there are literally just bicycles. It’s a small festival and it’s so cool, everyone just goes down to the beach, and it’s the nicest couple of days. We had a great time there.
Being a band of 3 sisters, you have been compared to Haim – are you fans of the band?
Yeah we are! Definitely. We’ve been fans of theirs for a while; we met them at SXSW… In fact, I think they’re playing Lowlands Festival that we’re playing as well [They were. We checked. Then imagined a Haim/Staves hair-off]. We keep being on the same bills at various festivals and meaning to hook up, but then never getting round to it, but they’re awesome. Obviously the only similarity between us though is that we’re sisters.
How would you describe your sound to anyone who hasn’t heard The Staves before?
I’d say it was really good [laughs]. I guess it’s kind of focused on vocals and 3-part harmonies, with acoustic guitar, folk-ish stuff. Is that vague enough?
Perfect! You’re the eldest of the 3 sisters, so do you feel like you have to look after the other 2?
Probably on some level. I don’t know if you can ever entirely shake that one off. I do think that since we started working together we’ve become much more equal, we all look out for each other, but I’m probably the most pragmatic. Punctual, things like that. The really fun rock ‘n’ roll stuff. That’s me.
Dragging the others out of bed and things like that?
Yeah, Millie’s actually asleep next to me! I think we all feel that there’s not much of a difference between us now that we’re a bit older though.
Next up you guys are doing a UK tour and you’re playing Oran Mor in Glasgow. Have you been to Scotland before?
Oh yeah – in fact, we’ve played Oran Mor, maybe 3 times before? I think it’s a really cool place. It’s got a gothic feel to it. We’re really excited to be going back. When we first started touring one of our first tours was of the Highlands and Islands. We’ve always had an awesome time in Scotland, because people there really know their music, and it means a lot when you get a good crowd and a good response.
Have you noticed that the west coast is a bit more rowdy than the east?
Yes! Edinburgh is really nice and cool, but we always have a mad night out in Glasgow, it’s like the law.
Or at least it should be! What else do you have coming up this year?
Well we just put out some live tracks to accompany our album, so people who’ve already bought the album can get the tracks for free in an email, but it’s basically a special edition of the album. There are some songs that we recorded at our last London show, so that’s been nice to put out, and we’re just working on new material now.
We’ve got bits and pieces of touring until November, but we have several weeks off to start working on the new material, because when you’ve been on the road so much you get all these ideas for songs and you never have the chance to develop them. You end up with 100 voice memos on your phone of a lyric, or a melody, or a whistle, or something. That’s going to be really nice just to sit down and see what comes out.
Maybe a new album in the new year then?