XYZ Magazine’s Jimmy Volts caught up with the middle sister Jessica Staveley-Taylor, one third of the acclaimed acoustic folk trio the Staves for a little Q&A about life in the band…
Hey Jessica! What have you been up to so far today?
“I’ve been rehearsing!” What’s the average wake-up time for a Stave? “Depends! 9am?”
Congratulations on the LP ”If I Was”. It’s been out a little while now. How has it been performing it now the songs have had time to sink in with your audience?
“It’s a constant journey of discovery. The songs grow and evolve on each tour and feel different night to night. It’s the wonder of playing live. It’s great to feel you’re connecting with people.”
It’s been a steady and sure footed rise to fame for the Staves, with three EP’s before the debut album. Do you think this “slow and steady” approach made for a more solid band foundation?
“Well, the opening track on our first album was called “Wisely & Slow” so maybe there’s something in that!”
Would you recommend this same, steady sort of approach for other bands just starting out?
“I don’t think there’s really a right or wrong way of doing things – it’s different for every band and every type of personality. Always trust your instincts is what I’ve learnt.”
You’re famous for your tight vocal blends. Tell us about your practice routine for such vocal smoothness…
“There isn’t one! We are sisters and have a similar vocal tone to one another and an intuition about harmony and phrasing. That comes from spending a lifetime together.”
Can you remember the moment where you realised you wanted to form a band?
“Kind of always. When we sung together we always thought it would be the dream to do it on a big stage. But it didn’t happen for a long time.”
I’m interested to find out what it’s like for three siblings in a band together. What’s it like to be in each other’s pockets so much?
“We are very close – they are my best friends – and we get on well and have a lot of fun. There are times when we disagree and argue about things but that’s natural. You spend a lot of time together when you’re in a band!”
Are there any times when you find yourselves needing a break from each other?
“Definitely. It’s important to have time to yourself and to be understanding of other people’s need for space.”
What about your home life? Do you hang around together when you’re not working?
“Camilla and I live together! And Emily lives nearby. We do hang out a lot and have a big friendship group.”
How was it working with Justin Vernon from Bon Iver on production duties for the current album?
“It was life-changing and amazing.”
He’s a renowned perfectionist. Did you feel any pressure to perform?
“Yes in the sense that we respect him a huge amount as a musician and value his opinions, but really it felt like a low pressure environment and more one of discovery and freedom. Mistakes are cool!”
You’re heading out on a UK tour this month. Are you looking forward to hitting the road again?
“Yes definitely. We just finished a tour opening for Florence and the Machine which was great but it’s always best when you’re playing to your own crowd.”
Any favourite gig locations?
“Manchester is always great for us. And Glasgow. But really everywhere is great for us. We love touring the UK.”
You’re playing De La Warr Pavillion this month. Do you like it down on the South coast?
“It’s a beautiful part of the country for sure. We’ve played in Brighton many times but had never actually heard of Bexhill before this tour! So we’re very excited to come and see the sights. Hear Hastings is good – wasn’t there a battle there…?”
How are you feeling about rounding things off at such a prestigious venue as the Roundhouse, where your tour ends?
“It will be our biggest headline show to date and we’re so excited. It’s going to be really special. A lot of history there.”
Any plans for later today?
“More rehearsing and then a well-earned pint.”
What are you listening to at the moment? Any new artists? Old Classics?
“I never stop listening to Sun Kil Moon. Mark Kozelek is so great at capturing a mood and is one of my guitar heroes.”
Xmas is coming up next month. What has been the best Xmas prezzie you’ve ever received?
“My first guitar. It opened up my world.”
Are you good at picking out prezzies?
“Yes I am. The best thing is gathering little things you find on tour for various people and storing them up ’til Christmas. That way everything has a story behind it.”
For full tour dates, tickets, merchandise and news, head online to thestaves.com
Interview by Jimmy Volts