Friday, April 16, 2010
Q: You guys just completed a photo shoot. How did that go? Was this your first real photo shoot for the band?
Photo shoots give us an excuse to go shopping, so what’s not to love? This was our second photo shoot, so we were more relaxed. We did our first official photo shoot back in January, which was in a studio. We had wanted to get some outdoor shots too, but it was unusually cold and yucky here in Atlanta this winter. Thankfully, the weather has been beautiful recently and we found a really cool spot near an old abandoned mill to do the shoot.
Q: Being such a young group of girls, is it sometimes hard finding time to practice, do homework, and having time to do things with friends? Yes, it can be pretty tough to fit everything in. And we still have a classical chamber music ensemble that performs periodically (in fact we’re playing at a wedding this weekend.) So that adds even more things to fit it. We try to get all of our classical practice in before school and then we make time in the afternoons, evenings, and throughout the weekends for von Grey practice. Balancing the music, with the school, while still trying to hold on to enough social time is a constant challenge, but we make it work somehow. We actually just finished a week of spring break, which gave us some time to sleep in and kick back a bit – going to the movies and stuff like that. Thankfully, we only have about 25 more days of school. We’re hoping to play a number of shows over the summer, and looking forward to more time to focus on our music and hang with friends when we are home.
Q: I know von Grey is relatively a new, but do people at school know you guys are a band? Yeah, mostly they do. It’s funny because it causes a mixed reaction. Some people are pretty enthusiastic. Others think we work too hard. And others don’t quite understand and thinks it’s weird. In suburban Atlanta, being on a sports team is more “normal.” As excited as we are about what we are doing, there’s a fine line of not talking too much about it. All of us feel like we will look back on our childhood and think music was a cool thing to do. Ultimately, that’s what matters.
Q: Are you still treated like everyone else? Yes, for the most part. The places we’ve played so far are mostly music clubs in Atlanta, which can be a bit late and some of them don’t even let kids in. Once we get some opportunities where more people -- like people our age – can see us, things might change a bit.
Q: Annika, I know you mentioned in an interview in Atlanta Magazine that you guys want to sound like who you listen to. Who are your favorite bands? I move between a lot of artists and not all of it would fit our voices and instruments. But one artist that I’ve been listening to a lot and where I really like the groove is Ben Harper. My sisters and I all listen to a wide range of music, from Regina Spektor to Lil Wayne to Sugarland.
Q: Of those favorite artists, who influences your style of music the most? We’ve tried to pick & choose. We like the country feel of Shedaisy, the smooth Celtic vibe of Damien Rice, and the fun pop feel of Jason Mraz. We recently went to see John Mayer in concert, which was a great show. But we also have tickets to go see Lady Antebellum and Sugarland. We all wish we could sing like Carrie Underwood, but enjoy the sounds of folk and traditional music too. At this point, we hope to be able to pull attributes from many genres into our music, creating our own sound.
Q: I read that you traveled to India for three months and did a mini tour and you’ve also traveled to Ireland to perform. How were those experiences? They were pretty special, although in different ways. The Irish trip was just Annika & Kathryn, and was mostly about Annika’s Irish fiddling. After winning a US competition, she qualified to compete in the All-Ireland competition. It was a great trip. To see and play with masses of musicians playing such authentic music everywhere – pubs, street corners, etc. – was incredible. The India trip on the other hand was great because we weren’t just tourists. We actually lived there, with a house and neighbors, in a rustic little village in the middle of banana plantations. Western children in rural India are quite rare, so we stood out from the beginning. We were offered lots of opportunities to share our music. It was truly a life-changing three months both musically and personally. We all look forward to going back. We made a lot of connections with incredible people and musicians, including the founders of Braille Without Borders, a charity we continue to support.
Q: On March 6th, Kathryn and Annika were honored by the Georgia Music Educators Association with an invite to perform at the Georgia All-State Orchestra. How did that go? It was a rewarding weekend. To gather an orchestra together and in four days perform a concert to be proud of is really special. We have never really gone the competitive route with our Classical music, so we embrace the challenge each year to audition for All-State. Plus, Georgia’s All-State activities happen in Savannah, which is a beautiful city and a great place to spend a few days.
Q: So far you’ve only incorporated the violin and cello into one song (Volcano). Are you guys working on more songs that include those instruments? Yes, many of our originals have either Annika on violin or Kathryn on cello, or both. We have also used some banjo and mandolin with our originals. In time, Petra is likely to come in on her viola, but for now she is fascinated with the slide-guitar. We love performing a song based on a very old Irish poem called “I Am Stretched on Your Grave.” That arrangement includes a furious Celtic violin and cello break-down and solos from all of the band members.
Q: Who is the writer of the group or do you all contribute to the songs? Thus far everyone contributes to the process. A few originals have come pretty complete from one person, but most of them involve different members along the way. The lyrics have been more of a team effort, although even there, a few songs came to the group for arranging pretty complete. Kathryn has a keyboard in her bedroom and tends to first work solo, where Annika and Fiona bend towards the guitars. All in all, it is pretty much a group effort.
Q: What song is your favorite to perform? We like performing our original song, “What’s Your Name”. It’s so fun to play and really upbeat! The harmonies are tight, and we recently rearranged it to incorporate the violin. Whenever we play this song live, the audience really gets into it, which makes it even more fun.
Q: Do your songs have a common meaning or theme? Not really. We’re pretty young and we realize that good songs are kind of like good poems – they are most meaningful if they come from real-life experiences. So a lot of our stuff is about things that kids our age have experienced or can understand. We are all such different people, I don’t think you will see a common meaning or theme arising from our band. As four sisters, we have learned how to compromise and accommodate.
Q: What is the future of von Grey? What can fans expect to see from you guys? Right now, we’re hard at work writing new songs and rehearsing for some of our upcoming shows. We are hoping that our fans can help us out by voting for us to be the “undiscovered artist” to appear at LilithFair in Atlanta. We’re asking our fans to register and vote for us at: http://www.ourstage.com/go/lilithatlanta beginning May 2nd. For us, performing at Lilith with superstars like Sarah McLachlan would be like a dream. In a more general sense, we are just going to keep pursuing our dreams and see where they take us.
Q: This summer, are you looking to do a tour? If so, where? We have several shows scheduled for May, including the Georgia State Fair and the 500 Songs for Kids Charity Event. Our family, including our parents, are organizing life to be ready to hit the road. We were all home-schooled up until this last year and are preparing for that possibility again. We’re working with our manager now to try to organize something suitable. Maybe some of your program’s listeners will be people who can help us out with some recommendations! If something comes up for the summer we are ready and it would be great, but we are really putting our sights on making sure something happens for the Fall and through next year.
Listen to a special 4-track preview with a special appearance from the entire band on The Great Unknowns Presents
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