After stumbling across The Staves at an acoustic session at Rough Trade East in London two years ago, I was thrilled to hear that they were making their way to Rough Trade right here in New York. Since their debut album “Dead & Born & Grown” released in 2012, they’ve shown great potential touring worldwide with big artists like The Civil Wars and Bon Iver. These three sisters know how to harmonize while their comforting voices put you in a dream-like state.
Emily, Jessica, and Camilla grew up listening to The Beatles, jamming together for years. “We’ve always sung together since we were kids and it was just for fun really. Then we realized that we had something special. Everyone was telling us to do a gig and so it took us a while. It was about 10 years ago when we did our first gig at home in Watford.”
Their newly released album “If I Was” shows progression, and has proven that they consist of many intricate layers. “I feel like we somewhat progressed a little bit in terms of being more direct in this album. We were able to be a bit more up and honest, and it lent itself to stronger arrangements with Justin and the guys we recorded the album with. We were able to try out new sounds and textures that we haven’t used before.”
With many new fans anticipating their harmonic voices for the first time, they strutted on stage, Brooklyn Lagers in hand. As soon as they start singing, their voices send you to a state of euphoria which makes it hard to keep your eyes off of them. It’s astonishing how their rhythm allows you to tap into nostalgia, putting you in a sentimental mood, reminding you of how it felt to just lay out on the grass in the sun.
“We toured with Bon Iver so we spent a while on the road with those guys getting to know Justin and the band. We’ve come up and sung a few times during their show and jammed backstage, so there was a really good musical connection and we’re huge fans of Bon Iver. The guys were really supportive of us and they would watch our set every night. It was just a really nice vibe. Justin invited us out to his studio and he just said ‘If you have any time off between touring, just come out. And if you don’t know what you want to do, something cool will happen because it always does.’ ”
“I think the main inspiration was firstly the people who were there and the dynamics between everyone. But I think being very isolated and forced to switch off from everything in the outside world gives you focus. It creates such a special vibe when you’re making an album. And I think for us, that was the main thing that characterized it. Being in the show and being kind of up against the elements create quite a folk sort of feeling.”
The Staves are busy girls who have been on the road for long periods of time, but they’re adventurous and love to emerge in new experiences. “We all love traveling. Seeing new places and seeing new people. And mostly being able to take songs to so many people across the world. When you stop and think about it, it’s kind of an insane thing and we’re lucky to be able to do it. You’re not in one place long enough to feel like you’re at home. There’s a magic to it that’s almost hard to explain. It’s a bit like a drug.”
The U.S. seemed to have left a good impression on The Staves, since Jessica says that “people in the US in general are open and friendly, and very welcoming.” When they visit New York City, they can’t help but to chow down on some pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Deli in the Lower East Side. “It’s a huge tourist spot, but I’m a tourist so I don’t care!”