maandag 19 maart 2018

Interview with Zoe and Rosie of Worry Dolls for WoNoBlog

Photo by Wo.
Interview by Wout de Natris 

© WoNoBlog 2018

Having listened to 'Go Get Gone' now about 8 months ago, I tipped Hans of the Q-Bus in Leiden straightaway. Within hours the return message read: "just booked them". Hence I knew I would be in the Q-Bus in Leiden about 6 months later. The album was reviewed by both Erwin and myself, the show was reviewed this January. After the show Zoe and Rosie agreed on an interview. A trip to Nashville held things up a little, but here's the result. As you will find, I was lucky to escape with my life....

You both started as solo singer-songwriters. How did you meet?
We were writing songs and playing guitar as solo artists from the age of 12. We both went to study music in Liverpool at 18 and we met during the first week at an open mic night in the Uni canteen! 

Is there a specific moment you can point to when you both realised you were better off together?
We started off just singing together, we used to sing a lot of Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch and Nickel Creek songs that were rich in harmonies, and then we started singing each other’s songs and writing together. We realised that even though our voices were very different, there was something really special when we came together. When we graduated, we decided to stop our solo projects and focus exclusively on Worry Dolls. 

What is it that makes you better as a duo?
We always strive to be the best we can be, we both have very high expectations and are perfectionists so these qualities help us to be better in all aspects of our music. Within writing songs together and organising all the background admin that goes into touring and releasing the music itself. We also both have very different strengths so that definitely helps us to grow and together we have all that we need to pursue Worry Dolls. It also helps that we are great friends, we’ve known each other a long time and we can always just say what’s on our minds! 

Did you play the same sort of music solo or did you evolve together to where you are now?
Well Zoe had a more folk music background with both her parents having met in a folk band and with her Irish and Liverpudlian roots. Rosie grew up being inspired by and loving alt-Country and Rock music. So when we both came together we fused all our influences and this became the sound that we create through Worry Dolls. We like to think of it as all our favourite influences coming together to create something new and more mature that the solo music we created before. 

On stage you regularly said “when we wrote this song…”. Do you actually write together? How does the “average” Worry Dolls song come to pass?
Yes we co-write most of the songs together. Zoe wrote Passport on her own, but we usually come up with ideas apart and bring them together to finish. Sometimes it starts with a guitar or banjo riff, sometimes a lyric or a melody, or even just an interesting title. It’s usually based on whatever overpowering emotion we’re feeling at the time. 

The lyrics of several songs are about leaving, leaving someone behind. In how far is this in connection with the lives you chose to live as hard working musicians and the great difference with the rest of the world, like you pointed to on stage?
Yes that is definitely a theme that us as musicians can relate to. A lot of the choices and sacrifices we have made for Worry Dolls have meant leaving people or places behind. It is those choices that define us and inspire us to write. In particular the songs on our album were all written within a short period of time, just a few months. We’d left our jobs and our lives behind in London to travel to America to make the album. 

Your album ‘Go Get Gone’ was recorded in Nashville. What is the attraction of this southern U.S. city to two young women from the U.K.?
So much of the music that we love and grew up on comes from Nashville. We initially went there just to soak up the culture and watch incredible musicians play. But we ended up meeting so many like-minded new friends, we wrote a whole bunch of songs and completely fell in love with the place. We knew we had to go back and make an album there. 

Could the album have been made in London or would it really have been a different album because of that fact?
The theme behind our first debut album was definitely about our choices and journey to the US. I think the first album would have been different had we made it in our home city. Most of the inspiration was found through being brave, leaving our home and our comfort zone and having all these new, life changing experiences in an incredible new city. We were both working full time in London, so we needed to take ourselves out of the daily grind to truly be inspired. We really felt a spiritual connection to Nashville like neither of us had ever felt for any other city. 

Photo by Wo.
Who are your heroes and influences and have these changed over the years?
Truly classic singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Eva Cassidy to more modern day writers like Patty Griffin and Gillian Welch. Incredible women like Alison Krauss & Dixie Chicks, who make us strive every day to be better singers, better players. We love artists that really put special attention into their lyrics. Jason Isbell & Courtney Marie Andrews both have such wonderful lyrical styles and tell stories in such a unique and fresh, yet nostalgic way. 

Your harmonies are so perfect, as if your voices “were made for each other”, I wrote in a review. How hard do you have to work at them or do they just come about naturally?
First of all, thank you very much… We’ve been singing together for quite a few years now. At first we really worked hard to refine our vocal sound. We’ve never really had one of us ‘taking the lead’ and the other singing harmony, because we love the idea of both of us together being one voice, one that’s different from either of us on our own. Now it comes a lot more naturally, we often write in harmony instead of adding a harmony afterwards.

You made a comment about liking a song best that is just basic in sound and instruments. That shows in your music, yet the music is perfect. When do you know that a song is finished?
Aw that’s very kind of you to say. As an artist a song never feels truly finished and an album is the same feeling. However, if we never released and shared our music it would never reach anyone, so you have to let the song go and live their lives! The great thing is that even once the song is recorded, it can change and evolve live and you can breathe fresh life into it for years to come. 

A worry doll is a beautiful concept and feeling. What made it the right name for you to work under?
We had worry dolls as kids to tell our worries to and put under our pillows. They’re all about relieving anxiety and laying down your troubles - that seems so linked to how therapeutic music can be, for both the listener and the writer. We write about our fears and worries and this helps us get through hard times, and we hope it helps our listeners too.

In the artwork of the band, the art used is more in association with North American indigenous people (at least for me) than Middle American of the worry dolls. What is the story about your choice for beads and feathers as a statement in artwork?
For us it’s not about the geography, but the sentiment. As kids we also had dreamcatchers, which are similar to worry dolls because they encourage positive dreams by catching your bad ones. We grew up going to hippy festivals and craft camps, and we love the homemade, protective nature of both worry dolls and dreamcatchers. We always find beautiful dreamcatchers all over the world, we starting making them and collecting feathers. Whenever we find feathers it feels like good luck, so we chose feathers as our theme. 

On the setlist I saw lying on the floor at the Q-Bus, behind each song are the mysterious words “baby”, “GS” and “here”. What do they refer to?
This is our secret code. If we told you, we’d have to kill you… 

What can the world expect from Worry Dolls in the near future?
Well we are very much looking forward to our next trip to Holland. And of course, more music!!

1 opmerking:

  1. On Twitter Worry Dolls responded with some good news and a question:
    "Big thanks to Wout for interviewing us at @WoNoMagazine . We have plans to come back to Holland soon, can’t wait to play for you again!" and

    "Can anyone guess our secret code??".

    So keep an eye out for new shows and fill in your answers below.