With the way young teen stars are portrayed in the media today, it's easy to envision newbies as headed toward a downward spiral of drug overdoses, dramatic scandals, and mental breakdowns. Indie alternative band von Grey, however, is a pleasant exception.
When interviewing 17-year-old singer-songwriter Annika von Grey of the band, we must admit that we were thoroughly impressed with her maturity and levelheaded M.O. It also doesn't hurt that these four sisters (aged 13 to 18, BTW) are extremely talented, have even performed on Conan O'Brien, and idolize bands like Mumfred and Sons and Fleetwood Mac. We sat with Annika to get the scoop on what it's like touring with family, von Grey's sound, and what she really thought of Conan.
New Times: TeamCoco.com called you guys "Mumford & Daughters." What do you think?
Annika von Grey: It's flattering, because the band is composed of talented musicians and composers. I think we get compared to them because we have a lot of acoustic instruments. We're glad to be compared to them. People say we're a combination of Fleetwood Mac, Jethrow Tull, and Little Dragon. It's cool to know the way people interpret us. It's interesting.
What was it like performing on Conan?
It was awesome! We were honored to be on the show... He was talented with so many fans. [The episode] was filmed in our hometown in Atlanta. The best part was being around people who worked with them. They were happy and passionate like us.
Did you guys get to meet him?
Yeah, we did! Not for a long time, because it was hectic, but it was nice, and I think Paul Rudd was on the show -- he was nice too. They treated us with kindness, which is nice because they get bands on the show who are more well-known than we are.
Was he cool?
He was cool, smart, and great.
How is Awakening different than your self titled EP?
The use of instruments is different. We keep the same roots like piano, cello, and guitar, but incorporate more synthetic sounds. The songwriting is different too -- we are older and we experience things for the first time and it's more self-reflective.
Describe your sound.
I don't know. It's kind of hard because we are in a constant state of evolution. We are not changing, but we are growing. Sound-wise, we are indie-alternative, rock-soul. I started with violin. We grew up listening to lots of music that sounds folky and we now listen to some electronic music, so we kind of meet in between those two worlds.
How many years apart are you all?
I'm 17, Fiona is 15 but will be 16 in few weeks, Petra is 13, and Kathryn is 18.
Is your age in this industry a disadvantage? Do you feel like you get taken advantage of?
It's a disadvantage and an advantage. We are all girls in a band and we are young. We walk in and veterans may not take us seriously because we are young and girls. But we are confident and present ourselves as older to dispel these misconceptions people may have of us. Early college students and those who just graduated from college don't really care. It's good to know people are prioritizing music like we do.
How does songwriting go, especially with the age difference?
t's pretty democratic. Fiona will come up with a riff, or I will write something that no one likes, but there are not many ideas that are mixed. We want to be on the same page and are equally proud of it. Fiona and I write the music and sing together. We bring it to the other two and they can add their little flourishes... I try to not write selfishly and only what I'm feeling. It's a general feel to us and those who love around us, like a global experience.
What is it like touring with your family and being around each other all the time?
It helps being sisters because we push things aside. As far as music goes, we were all raised with the same tastes. Creatively we are all on the same page. There are no doubts on expressing yourself creatively because we are in tune with each other
Did you guys ever get into any sibling fights when you were younger?
Yea, every day [laughs] but nothing serious. Boundaries are set. Like we make sure someone isn't chatty in the car if someone is sleeping.
Are you all excited to perform in Fort Lauderdale?
We've never performed here before. We are exited to play in places we haven't before. We are happy to perform and be exposed to new people and places!
von Grey open for Rusted Root. 7:30 p.m., Thursday, November 21, at Culture Room 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Visit cultureroom.net/ or call 954-564-107.
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