The Norwich foursome captivate with their whimsical indie rock…
Situated in East Anglia, Graceland are quite removed from the frenetic hubbub of the big city new music scenes of London or, say, Manchester – but the indie rock four piece prefer it that way. Calling Norwich home and as equidistant from the beach as they are the Norfolk Broads, the band had to be self-starters when it came to being musically creative. Their music takes a more whimsical turn in their latest single ‘Flyway’, seamlessly merging sharply lush guitar tones with dreamy landscapes and hazy vocals.
Both inspired by and immersing themselves in the countryside to write and record, the band of four sisters operate in a way wholly removed from the big smoke. “Our relationships are why we are in a band,” they say. “We have become sisters through many years of exploring, knowing and re-knowing. We get on each other’s nerves all the time and that’s how we can find harmonium.” And as such, their rhythm section is as tight as possible!
We enjoyed your dreamy recent single ‘Flyway’, can you tell us a little about how the track came to life?
Thanks! We write all of our tracks collaboratively and that’s super important to our identity and our own individual creative urges. With this track Ellie wrote that beautiful ethereal verse riff that we jammed out at Sickroom, which is in Norfolk where we write best, and we added some jerky Joy Division influenced instrumentation. We’d seen the Thurston Moore Band play at Latitude Festival with Debbie Googe – her bass mixed with a sans snare chorus was a huge influence on the chorus.
Was there anything in particular that was inspiring you lyrically at the time of writing?
In the above ‘jamming’ session (we don’t really ‘jam’, we tease), Stevie and Maxie had to leave suddenly because their Nanny was very unwell. Rosie and Ellie were left to work on vocal ideas on their own. We had been discussing birds, flight, and bird song a lot at the session and in fact Rosie and Ellie had been on some moving and intense bird watching trips. So they wrote the whole vocal part in that evening. Just nailed it.
‘Flyway’ is your third single, following on from ‘Flowers’ and ‘Fleetwood’, which were more energetic numbers. Why did you opt to detour down the more down-tempo route for ‘Flyway’?
There’s a lot of sadness and anger in our songs that we express as positive, but with changing energies. ‘Flyway’ is probably a more exact / mirror realisation of our acceptance of the cyclical nature of relationships and life… there’s wonder in there too though.
You’ve stated previously that the complexity of the human dynamics is conveyed by the subtle shifting of the guitars. What sort of atmosphere were you aiming to build?
Repetition is hugely important in our processes and what we want our fans to experience! With shifting layers and repetition we hope to appreciate intricacies.
DIY made us and we will hold onto that for as long as it makes sense. No one knows your music like you do; how it sounds and how it should sound. There’s a myth within the music industry that experience / maleness means you know more but we don’t buy or care for that.
You recorded the track in the countryside of your native East Anglia. Did you find the landscape inspiring?
Totally! We love the coast and the countryside – we feel at home and most inspired when we are working in the flatlands of East Anglia. We are in the early stages of a project centred around The Rings of Saturn by Sebald – his writing style is also a big inspiration for how we write our songs. Pseudo objective…
Is there a much of a musical community in Norwich? How do you connect with other musicians and the local music scene?
In the past our zine and record label Gravy Records has been a big connection. Now it’s Norwich Arts Centre – the best venue in the world and the creative hub of Norwich.
You’ve recently had a couple of live shows at The Lexington in London and the Norwich Arts Centre respectively. What can your do you hope your audience experience in watching your set?
We’re serious and intense in everything we do but live we’re also chill and fun. Because we love playing together so much, our live experience is the best way to really hear and know us.
What do you most love about playing live?
The riffs – if we didn’t play live as a band we’d definitely be softer/poppier.
What else do you have planned for 2017?
We hope to release something longer, maybe an EP, before our debut album next year.
‘Flyway’ is available now.