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Von Grey sisters lead balanced lives

Alternative band to play in Sautee

POSTED: March 6, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Four sisters, nine instruments and hundreds of shows later, the women of von Grey find themselves on the rise in the indie-alternative-folk music genre.

After a touring stint that included a few memorable television performances, the quartet will return to its roots for a show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 8, in the Sautee Nacoochee Center’s historic gym. The concert is part of the Thomas E. Wilbanks Performance Series at 283 Ga. 255 North in Sautee.

Tickets are $20 for members, $24 for nonmembers and $12 for students. For tickets, call 706-878-3300 or order online at www.snca.org.

Von Grey shot into the spotlight after performances on “Conan” and “The Late Show with David Letterman,” at South By Southwest and opening for acts such as the Indigo Girls. But the sisters — including Annika (16, violin, banjo, guitar and keys), Kathryn (18, cello, bass pedals, mandolin, keys and background vocals), Fiona (15, guitar, violin and percussion) and Petra (12, keys, lap steel guitar, electronic percussion and background vocals) — have continued to balance school and family with their budding music careers. The four have been compared to popular artists such as Mumford and Sons and provide a unique, creative sound with powerful harmonies and vocals.

The group released its third EP, “Awakening,” in January and will head out on tour supporting Ron Pope after Saturday’s concert in Sautee.

The Times had a chance to ask Annika von Grey about the group’s favorite experiences, musical inspirations and balancing touring with everyday life.

Question: What was one of your favorite performances on television, at a festival or on tour so far?

Answer: We played Bonnaroo last summer, which was amazing because of the whole festival atmosphere. We always love playing festivals during the summer, and the lineup is incredible every year. There’s just so much energy there, and being able to interact with the crowd and see other artists and everything like that is amazing. We got to see Pretty Lights and Bjork, which was fantastic.

Q: How have your relationships with your sisters changed since you began your musical journey together?

A: It’s been interesting. It’s strange having a relationship as a family and a business relationship. We have a healthy separation between those two dynamics so we can be sisters and argue about things. And then when it’s band time, (we) get into the headspace we kind of share and let the petty things go. It’s mostly just through open dialogue. We have similar goals that we want to achieve with the music we’re writing, so we’re just making sure we’re all on the same page. We have conversations that include everyone.

Q: You’re all different ages and in different stages of your life, so where does most of the inspiration for your lyrics come from?

A: I write all of the lyrics, so a lot of the sentiments are coming from me. When we started, it was really mixing my emotional landscape with other experiences I had or had heard about. I kind of lived vicariously through other people that I know. It’s easier now that I’m older, too. I can talk to my sisters about their experiences and things, so having those people to pull from is helpful.

Q: What kind of individual music tastes do you and your sisters have and how do they influence von Grey’s music?

A: We all listen to somewhat similar music. We are in the house and in the car together, so we are forced to listen to a lot of the same music. We listen to a pretty wide variety. Fiona listens to a little more R&B, and I listen to a little more soundscapey, experimental electronic-type stuff. We get influences from a ton of different artists, and we listen to a lot of singer-songwriters like Cat Stevens and Ben Harper. Someone we would love to work with would be Little Dragon or St. Vincent because of their experimental, creative sounds.

Q: What was your motivation for delving into so many different instruments, and when did you start learning them?

A: We started with classical music when we were 5. We each started with piano and a string instrument, and then we started writing music that wasn’t just classical music, so we added keyboard sounds and other instruments to add texture and create what we wanted sonically. It was part of our schooling when we were young, and when we got to the age where we could decide if we wanted to do it or not, we were already using it as a form of expression.


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