A few hours before appearing at Redroaster as Twenty-one Crows, Jon Griffin and Becca Tann pulled up a couple of chairs with XYZ’s Mo Mostowfi and explained just what it is that makes them tick.
XYZ: You’ve had a limited edition EP (‘Whatever Will Become Of Us’) out for a few months. Aren’t you already recording the follow-up?
Jon: Yes, it’s going to be another EP actually. We’re not quite sure if it’s going to be four or five songs yet, but it’s going to be a bit angrier. There are a couple of songs that are more political. We haven’t added any dance synths or anything like that!
Becca: We have added clarinet and electric guitars though.
Do you write your songs as collaborations or does one of you take the lead?
Jon: I tend to write them and then we work out the arrangements together. We’re just writing songs at the moment and seeing what’s coming out.
Becca: Jon will write his parts, which is basically the song, and he’ll play them to me and then we’ll mess around with it.
How long have the two of you been writing together?
Jon: About a year; we did our first gig last Easter. Before that I was in a rock band. What I’m doing now feels a lot more natural; it feels more honest and less compromised.
You’ve only got four dates in four months… I thought that maybe you didn’t like playing live!
Jon: It’s an ongoing process… [Laughs] It’s just hard getting on the right bill or right night.
Do you think it’s difficult for projects such as yourselves, with the amount of high-octane rock and indie bands dominating the Brighton scene?
Jon: Initially, I thought it was going to be that way. At the moment there seems to be a thing going on with this music. It’s just been the way that it’s worked out for us. We also don’t want to restrict ourselves in Brighton. We don’t want people getting bored of us. .
Where did the name ‘Twenty-one Crows’ come from?
Jon: Just one of those things. What was it that Nick Cave used to say? I think it was “Google it!” [Laughs]
Fair enough! What do you love and hate about Brighton and why?
Jon: I think it’s changed a lot. A lot of people want to develop the area, mainly councils.
Becca: I don’t like the ‘poncification’ of it all. The population has changed. There is a lot more people with a lot more money.
Jon: I love the laidback sense of humour of the place, and the sea.
Becca: I find that now I’m not living here, I appreciate the things I like about Brighton more. There is so much going on gig-wise too.
Jon: I think you need a distance from it to remember what’s good about it.
All your music is very melancholic. What makes you happy?
Jon: Animals! They make me laugh. Most things make me happy. I don’t really feel I need to write about that. It’s the other, unhappy stuff that I need to deal with! [Laughs]
Words by Mo Mostowfi
Photographs by Sam Hiscox