Artist Spotlight: The Staves
By Mandi Kimes & Kinsey Heath
Sister-superstars Jessica, Emily, and Camilla Staveley-Taylor, who make up the musical group The Staves, have been quite busy. Between touring with The Civil Wars and Bon Iver back in 2012, and recording and releasing an album with producer Justin Vernon, the girls have had not much down time. And to add to the craziness, they've recently performed Glastonberry festival and will support Florence + the Machine on her UK tour.
So, when we heard they were granting us approval for an interview, we were ecstatic and grateful for the opportunity. And if they weren't hitting the stage just minutes after our interview, we probably would've talked more and eventually become best friends and we'd be on tour with them right now. But we can forgive them, because their performance was nothing less of perfection and we couldn't be more proud of their growing success.
MANDI: How has your Eaux Claires experience been so far?
JESSICA: Terrible! (all laugh) No, it's been great! We've been here before to record our record, so it's kind of like a home away from home for us.
EMILY: It's so great to see it all unfold over the past couple years of chatting ideas. everyone is so drunk on life here.
MANDI: Who are you most excited to see?
CAMILLA: Sufjan (Stevens)...we're all big Sufjan fans. I cannot wait to see his set!
JESSICA: I am also excited to see Phox, because I heard their from here and I've yet to listen to them.
EMILY: Also Sylvan Esso. Their set is going to be a lot of fun.
KINSEY: What does the writing process look like for you?
JESSICA: One person usually starts with a lyric or a melody and we come forth with that, and we all eventually just build on top of that.
EMILY: Millie and Jess write more than I do, so I usually provide harmonic insight and my own little improvisational notes.
CAMILLA: That's it, actually. We mess around with different notes and lyrics until we all just decide, "Yeah, that sounds good!" And we all know and trust our voices so well at this point, that it comes quicker now.
KINSEY: I know you worked closely with Justin Vernon on the production of your latest album, If I Was. How had this particular experience been different than past releases?
JESSICA: We spent a lot more time with Justin on our last tour with him, and I think honestly just being on the same wavelength as him really helped in choosing him as our producer. He really challenged us in songwriting; where we would normally write a song on a guitar and build a melody on top of that, we tried writing on different instruments as a base.
CAMILLA: Right, we would begin writing on a ukulele or a piano, or even use our voices as the instruments. We ended up experimenting a lot with our sound, and he challenged as to stretch outside of our comfort zone as try new things.
EMILY: He's the perfect facilitator. He really kept the production moving along. And it helped that we met him on tour, so we already knew so much about each other and got along so well.
MANDI: Where is somewhere you haven't performed yet that you would like to, one day?
EMILY: We'd like to hit all fifty states, so I think Alabama. We've heard a lot of great music comes from there, so I think it'd be great to perform there and see where a lot of great music started.
JESSICA: Yea, I think all fifty states. No state in particular for me, just all of them!
CAMILLA: Japan would be fascinating to play!
MANDI: What do you enjoy doing outside of music?
JESSICA: We don't really have much time outside of music!
CAMILLA: I love to draw or paint. Again, we don't get much time, but when I do I like to dabble in art.
EMILY: She's actually quite good!
JESSICA: Yea, seriously.
CAMILLA: Why, thank you!
EMILY: I love to see my friends, because I rarely see them much anymore. Or I like to read. Reading is always good for my soul. And Netflix.
JESSICA: I like to switch off my mind from the go-go-go nature of music and indulge in some yoga.
MANDI: Who are you currently listening to?
THE STAVES: Sufjan Stevens' Carrie & Lowell, The War on Drugs' Lost in a Dream, Tame Impala's Currents, and lots of Sylvan Esso.