Interview | The Staves: “We always feel most at home singing with no accompaniment.”

Photo by Rebecca Miller

On Thursday, May 30th, Speakers in Code is proud to welcome The Staves back to St. Louis, this time for their first headlining gig in our fine city. The show is going down at Off Broadway, and tickets are only $10 ($12 day of show). You can RSVP to the show here on Facebook.

The critical praise for The Staves’ debut full-length album, Dead & Born & Grown, has been glowing, probably because of songs like “Facing West.”

We recently caught up with Emily Staveley-Taylor over email.

1. Last time you were in St. Louis, you opened for The Civil Wars at The Pageant. I seem to remember a standing ovation after your last song. What do you remember about that show and tour?

Well remembered! Yes, it was one of the highlights of the tour. As a support band, you never expect to get a reception like that. It was one of our first gigs in America and we were made to feel so very welcome. The whole tour was a fantastic experience for us and it’s wonderful to be returning to some of the same places we visited with the Civil Wars again on this tour.

2. Tell us about working with Glyn and Ethan Johns on Dead & Born & Grown. There must have been some stories floating around…

You better believe it! We’d be having lunch together and Glyn would start, “this reminds me of one time when John and I were eating and Paul and Ringo wander over….” The man has some of the best stories from our favourite era of music. Glyn and Ethan are both masters at working with tape, which is how we wanted to record, and they believe in getting live takes – warts and all. I think this has given the album the kind of honest feeling we always hoped it would have.

3. The opener on Dead & Born & Grown, ““Wisely & Slow,” is a very strong opener. Can you tell us a little more about writing and recording that one?

We sing a lot of harmonies together (as you may have noticed). We always feel most at home singing with no accompaniment so we wanted to write a song where we did, at least for the most part, just that. It was one of those ones that we recorded very soon after writing so for us it feels quite alive and has energy to it.

4. The venue you’re playing in St. Louis, Off Broadway, is very cozy and intimate. I’m guessing you prefer places like that, but I could be wrong. How much does the feel of the venue affect your live performance?

There are many factors that can affect a gig – the sound system, the audience, the time… But venue is very important, too. You can still have a very intimate atmosphere even when playing large rooms, as we discovered whilst supporting Bon Iver. Cozy is great, but then big bare rooms with an industrial vibe can be awesome too. At the end of the day, we have to create the right atmosphere wherever we are.

5. Finally, you’re sisters headlining in the U.S. for the first time. When is the first fight going to go down? My bet is on the way to Detroit.

Oh, it’s happened already. Day 2, in Philadelphia, we had a full on argument about which were the correct lyrics to The Fresh Prince.

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