Atlanta-based indie-alt-folk group von Grey is a group of sisters that were classically trained as a musicians from a very early age. Dual lead singer-songwriters Annika (violin, banjo, guitar, keys) and Fiona (guitar, violin, percussion), Petra (keys, lap steel guitar, electronic percussion, background vocals), and Kathryn (cello, bass pedals, mandolin, keys, background vocals) round out this ensemble that is steeped in the rich traditions of Americana and folk styles.
What they have accomplished this past year for such a young group of sisters is simply amazing. And all this before they reached their 20th birthdays. They’ve appeared on “Late Show with David Letterman,” “Conan,” NBC’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” and CNN’s “Road Warriors.” The group has opened for Indigo Girls, Sarah McLachlan, Lindsey Stirling, Rusted Root, and Company of Thieves, and performed standout sets at SXSW, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, and Gathering of the Vibes Festival. Their 2012 self-titled EP shot into the iTunes Top 10 following their “Conan” performance.
Another notable achievement for von Grey was be awarded the presigious Horizon Award at the 35th Annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards held on October 5, 2013. Other notable award winners at the event were Goodie Mob and CeeLo Green – the Performer Award, Kansas– Group Award, James “Alley Pat” Patrick– Non Performer Award, Pat Alger– Songwriter, The Forester Sisters– Pioneer Award and Whitney Houston – Posthumous Award.
We’ve had the opportunity to see them perform live at Criminal Records in the Little 5 Points area of Atlanta, chat with them before their summer tour, and just recently had a chance to catch up with them before they head back out on their Fall tour promoting their new EP Awakening which was produced by Rick Beato due out in January of 2014.
GGM: We recently chatted back in May and I wanted to follow-up with you to hear about your summer tour which included Bonnaroo, your new EP Awakening, and winning the Horizon Award at the 35th Annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards Show. Congratulations!
Fiona: Thank you. We had a very eventful summer which has been great. Playing at Bonnaroo was so awesome. There are so many cool artists that play at that festival, so to be a part of it was very exciting for us. We also got to travel up to Colorado, which is a beautiful state, and we got to play there. So we’ve had a very great summer, I think, and accepting the Horizon Award was just amazing…that whole award show and being a part of it was just great.
GGM: Can you tell us a little bit about the new EP Awakening and what we can expect to hear?
Fiona: I’m very excited about Awakening. We’ve really been experimenting with some new sounds on keyboard and with our songwriting and different time signatures. Anika and I do all the songwriting. Our whole EP is just based on being awakened to social awareness and to be friendly and to be just aware of your surroundings. So that’s why we called it Awakening.
GGM: How does Awakening differ from your prior EP?
Fiona: Well, our first EP was a little more folky and very acoustic. We still have our acoustic instruments on this new EP, but we also added a couple of different things like bass, synthesizers and drums. We’re still playing all of the instruments on the EP, but we added a couple of different sounds. And I think the way we sing is a little more emotive this time around. We get a little more aggressive on some songs.
GGM: Any one particular song on Awakening that is especially personal to you and why?
Fiona: Yes, the song “Ashes” is the most personal song for me…it’s about deforestation. The basis of the song is we were driving down from Vancouver and we got to see some beautiful nature and forests, but we also saw some mountains that were stripped of their trees and that was just devastating. To see that bare land — it’s not a good thing, I don’t think. So that song is just about that and is very personal to me.
GGM: Well, actually, that’s the song I wanted to talk to you about because there is a documentary called Musicwood that is about that very same topic. It features executives from Taylor Guitars, Martin Guitars and Gibson Guitars and their efforts to work with Greenpeace to save the Sitka Spruce in the Pacific Northwest.
Fiona: It seems very interesting and a cool project. I would love to hear more.
GGM: Was this your first time working with producer Rick Beato and can you share with us your experience?
Fiona: This was our first time working with Rick and it’s strange because he’s had a lot of background in classical music and we started out in classical music when we were pretty young. So when we started working with him, we right away got a connection because we had a similar vocabulary, and the way that we described music and our vibe was great. Our music was very similar, so when we were in the studio and he was producing and we were doing some pre-production and all throughout the recording process, we got along very well. So through all that I think we got a pretty good EP and some cool recordings.
GGM: You’ve already headed back out on tour this Fall. How much of your new material will your fans hear?
Fiona: We will be playing all of the songs on the EP and we also have one new song that we are going to play. I’m actually going to introduce the electric guitar back into the set. I learned electric guitar probably three and a half or four years ago and I played it for about a year. I really stopped playing it for a while because I was playing acoustic most of the time, but I’m going to introduce it back into the set. So it’s exciting for me and it opens the door to so many different sounds and textures that we can include in our songs.
GGM: It will definitely add a whole new element.
Fiona: Yes, it will. I’m excited.
GGM: How was your summer tour and playing at the famed Bonnaroo festival?
Fiona: At Bonnaroo we had a pretty awesome slot. We went right after Passion Pit played, so we got quite a few fans from their show that came over. Everyone at that festival is just there to have a good time and the overall vibe of the festival is so cool, so our show there was really awesome. We also played at a festival called Gathering of the Vibes which like the title says is super vibey and is all about friendliness and awareness which is something we support and we’re really into that, so that was a very cool festival. That whole tour was very exciting, and then we’re going on tour in November with Rusted Root which we are looking forward to. Hopefully we get along with them and their fans enjoy our music.
GGM: What an honor to receive the Horizon Award at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame this past weekend with fellow inductees Goodie Mob, CeeLo Green, and Whitney Houston with the Post Humous Award. That’s a pretty big class of musicians. How does it feel to be honored among those?
Fiona: Receiving that award was amazing and it’s not just this year, but being a part of an organization that’s been around for 35 years and there have been so many amazing artists that have been inducted so it was so cool for us to receive that award. Kansas performed and they were amazing.
GGM: Good luck on your tour. Look forward to hearing the new EP and catching up with you next year!
Fiona: Thank you! It was very nice talking to you again.
Awakening, Track Listing
1. “Keep It Cool”
2. “Come On”
4. “Upset Me”
6. “My Reflection”
Fall tour, which includes a mixture of headline dates and shows with Rusted Root and Carbon Leaf
von Grey – Upcoming Tour Dates
10/13 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
10/19 – Johns Creek, GA @ Johns Creek Arts Festival
11/08 – Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater w/Carbon Leaf
11/09 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live w/Carbon Leaf
11/11 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
11/15 – Plymouth, NH @ The Flying Monkey w/Rusted Root
11/16 – New Hope, PA @ Havana w/Rusted Root
11/18 – Charlotte, NC @ The Visualite Theater w/Rusted Root
11/20 – Orlando, FL @ The Plaza Live w/Rusted Root
11/21 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room w/Rusted Root
11/22 – St. Petersburg, FL @ The State Theatre w/Rusted Root
11/24 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel w/Rusted Root
12/05 – Atlanta, GA @ Callanwolde Fine Arts Center
1207 – Asheville, NC @ Isis Music Hall
For more on vonGrey, visit their site HERE.
COVER PHOTO CREDIT: Mary Caroline Mann