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The Staves perform in The Current studio

The Staves performing live in The Current studio
The Staves performing live in The Current studioMPR / Leah Garaas
  Play Now [23:56]

by Mark Wheat and The Staves

July 16, 2015

The Staves - Steady (live on 89.3 The Current)
by MPR
The Staves - Black and White (live on 89.3 The Current)
by MPR
The Staves - No Me, No You, No More (live on 89.3 The Current)
by MPR

Composed of sisters Emily, Camilla and Jess Staveley-Taylor, folk-rock trio the Staves passed through the Twin Cities on their way to perform at the Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival in Wisconsin. Although they are from the Home Counties outside London, their connection to western Wisconsin runs deep; their latest album, If I Was, was produced by Justin Vernon and recorded at his April Base studio. "It was a really, really magic first trip out there," Jess Staveley-Taylor says.

In a lively conversation with The Current's Mark Wheat, the Staves talk about how they got to meet and work with Justin Vernon, how they began singing together, and the advantage of being sisters and members of a touring band. Here are interview highlights:

On determining who sings what on each song:
"It changes with every song. Often it's the lead writer of the song who will take the lead vocal. And in a song like 'Steady,' we split up the vocals throughout the song, and it's kind of like passing the baton."

On how they got started as singers:
"Our parents had a good record collection when we were growing up, so we listened a lot of the Beatles, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Joni Mitchell and a bunch of those kind of people, and we grew up singing those songs with our parents an their mates and their kids and our friends … and eventually we started doing some open-mic nights 10 or 11 years ago."

On how they ended up working with Justin Vernon in Eau Claire, Wis.:
"We did a couple of tours with Bon Iver, one American tour and one in the U.K. and Europe. We just got on really well with Justin and with the rest of the guys — there was a natural 'click' that just happened. Justin is someone who knows what it is to tour extensively and what that does to a person, good and bad. We'd been touring a lot at that point and for quite a long time. And he said, 'When you have any down time, you should just come out to the house — no pressure to do anything, just drink some beer, play some guitars and the worst thing that can happen is we'll come out with nothing.' We ended up going and it served as this amazing release of all these song ideas we've had for ages but hadn't had time to make them into anything. It was a really, really magic first trip out there."

On what it's like to be sisters in a band together:
"We've been very, very close from a very, very early age; we've always been best mates, really. Growing up together, you're very used to sharing rooms and long car journeys and all of that kind of stuff, so it's kind of great — the perfect thing for having to live with each other on the road. But what has been harder is learning how to run a business together and to have a professional relationship."

On meeting Tom Jones:
"It was one of the most surreal things, 'I'm just casually chilling in the dressing room with Tom Jones.' Who would have dreamt that?"

Songs Performed

"Black and White"
"No Me, No You, No More"
All songs off the Staves' album, If I Was, available on Nonesuch Records.

Hosted by Mark Wheat
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark
Web feature by Luke Taylor