Three’s a Melody

UK-based band of sisters, The Staves, on their India plans.

Nine years ago, when Camilla Staveley-Taylor was 14, her elder sisters Jessica and Emily sneaked her into a local pub in their town, Watford, near England. Instead of hitting the bottle, the three got on the stage and belted out a series of soulful melodies. "I was tall and promised not to drink, so entry was not a problem," says Camilla over the phone from Watford. Today, she and her sisters are known as The Staves, a band famous for its songwriting and harmonious constructions. This month, they will make their first trip to India.

The chemistry that Camilla, Emily and Jessica share is apparent on stage during their gigs. "But we bicker all the time. It's a blessing and curse to be sisters and making music together. We are very open with each other because we know each other so well. Our parents are glad that we don't tear each others' hair when we are on the road," says Camilla. Though they don't live together, they still sit together to create music.

It's difficult to box their songs into a genre as it ranges from contemporary folk to harmony-based tunes. "Our parents are not musicians but they are very musical. We've grown up listening to Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Joni Mitchell. We've no formal training in music," says Camilla. These influences are evident in the music they make, the songs they write and the topics they choose. Their debut album, Dead & Born & Grown, released in November to mostly positive reviews. Mellow vocals, haunting lyrics and impressive simplicity in their instrumentation dominate the album with songs such as Winter Trees, Gone Tomorrow and Mexico, all of which are about heartbreak. Despite the overriding theme of heartache, their songs, says Camilla, are actually about the many definitions of love.

It was at their first pub gig that the name "The Staves" was written on a sheet of paper and stuck on the board to announce their arrival. "Since our last name is very long — Staveley-Taylor — our friends call us Staves. One day, it became the band's name," says the 23-year-old. After gaining a foothold in their town, the three contributed music to albums of other artistes such as Tom Jones and Fionn Regan, before touring with Grammy-winning American indie folk band, Bon Iver, this year. It was Fin Greenall, an English singer-songwriter and frontman of Fink, who convinced them to tour India. "Fink told us great things about India. We have no idea what the music scene is in India, though we hope to collaborate with a few musicians," says Camilla. The trio will play with Fink on the latter's tour of the country at Liberty Cinema in Mumbai on December 14 and Blue Frog in Delhi on December 16.

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