It’s still early days for The Staves, but they’ve already added some impressive points to their CV, including backing vocals on recent albums by Tom Jones and Fionn Regan, and supporting Mumford & Sons on their US tour. In a sweet twist of fate, producers Glyn and Ethan Johns (a father–son pair who between them have racked up some impressive credits, including The Rolling Stones, Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, Kings Of Leon and Laura Marling) independently discovered the sisters’ talents and offered their services for their upcoming debut album. Due for release later this year, it will be the first release on which the Johns family have pooled production credits.
The Staves are just about to head out on tour across the UK and Ireland with rising folk star Michael Kiwanuka, before jetting off to the States to tour with Ben Howard. We caught up with the songbird siblings to get the lowdown.
What’s your earliest memory?
Jess: Playing with Emily when we were little.
Camilla: Being put in the tumble dryer by Jess.
Emily: Dancing with mum to ‘Rock Around The Clock’ in our old house.
What’s your favourite song to cover and why?
Camilla: We love singing ‘Helplessly’ hoping by Crosby, Stills & Nash. It’s such a beautiful song and one that you can’t help singing along to – perfect for harmonies.
What did you listen to when you were growing up? Who did you first see live?
Jess: We listened to our parents’ record collection: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. There was always music round the house and they’d sing us children’s songs and Crosby, Stills & Nash. The first live gig we went to together was Paul McCartney at Earl’s Court with our mum. It was a dream!
What’s the first material possession you would rescue in a fire?
Jess: My guitar or photos or songbooks. I can’t decide!
Which women have most inspired you?
Jess: There are loads. Musically it would be Joni Mitchell as she was uncompromising with her music and style and was just supremely talented. I think Kate Bush and her attitude is also something to really look up to. She has always done her own thing.
Do you have an instrument you’d still like to learn? What’s stopping you?
Jess: I’d love to learn the violin. I think it’s something you need to start as a child so we’ve missed the boat. We always marvel at the skill of people who can play the violin.
What’s your funniest gig or studio memory?
Jess: When we were starting out we played a local gig that turned out to be a drum & bass rave with metal bands playing too. We knew we were doomed, and then, during our set, a three-foot tall man started dancing at us and ended up trying to make out with Camilla’s leg. It was so bad at the time, but we can laugh now.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Jess: Lou Reed and Metallica.
Have you ever had any bizarre comparisons to other musicians? How do you feel about that?
Emily: We were once compared with Enya. It made us feel as if the person had heard the wrong music by mistake, or perhaps was on drugs. Brilliant
What’s in your pockets right now?
Jess: Plectrums, string, iPhone, a small hat made from a chewing gum wrapper, dust.
What makes you angry? Why?
Jess: People with bad manners. It takes so little effort to just do the basics, but it seems that so few people can be bothered.
Name your autobiography.
Emily: In, Out & Put The Kettle On
What’s the worst job you’ve ever worked and what was so bad about it?
Jess: We’ve all worked our fair share of bad jobs. Usually cleaning toilets is the worst thing – and we’ve all done our fair share of that too! We’re very glad to be doing what we’re doing now.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever seen on YouTube?
Jess: Antoine Dodson is just amazing.
Watch the real interview here.
What music is exciting you right now?
Jess: Michael Kiwanuka and Christof van der Ven.
What are your views on feminism?
Jess: I don’t really see how women can’t be feminists, unless you don’t agree that women and men are equal and deserve the same opportunities. I think a lot of women are too afraid of being thought of as prudes or man haters to call themselves feminists. It’s a real shame. You shouldn’t deny your views just because of the ignorance of others.
What’s your biggest fear?
Jess: Losing my voice.
How are you most likely to die? What would you want written on your headstone?
All: We dread to think. Can you actually die laughing? That would be the way to go. The tombstone would read: ”Died tragically rescuing her family from the wreckage of a destroyed sinking battleship, whilst being attacked by tigers.”
Would you rather see a ghost or simply have a piece of toast and watch the evening news?
All: “Life, oh life!” – some of our favourite lyrics. We’re all big fans of toast. Thick white toast, real butter and strawberry jam would be how we’d do it.
Catch Emily, Jess and Camilla at the following venues this month:
10.02.12 The Stiff Kitten, Belfast
11.02.12 The Sugar Club, Dublin
12.02.12 Cyprus Avenue, Cork
14.02.12 Glee Club, Birmingham
15.02.12 Komedia, Brighton
16.02.12 Islington Assembly Hall, London
18.02.12 Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
19.02.12 The Kazimer, Liverpool
20.02.12 The Ruby Lounge, Manchester
21.02.12 The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge
23.02.12 The Cluny, Newcastle
24.02.12 King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
25.02.12 Electric Circus, Edinburgh
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