Interview: Stylusboy

Stylusboy, the duo of Steve Jones and Rachel Grisedale, I’ve featured on the blog before with their sound that has been described as ‘enchanting lo-fi folk’ they really are in my opinion creating some brilliant songs. The beautiful vocals mix with the stripped back, soft melodies on offer from piano and acoustic guitar, the lyrics are full of honesty and emotion it is the kind of music you can really connect to, the type that you can really sit back and listen to. With previous EP’s having not only gained them plenty of fans but also attention from the likes of Artrocker and 6Music’s Tom Robinson, their’s is clearly a sound that is striking a chord with many. Here’s exactly what Tom Robinson had to say about the duo; “A leading light among today’s new generation of DIY digital troubadours, Stylusboy’s music reflects their open, yet fiercely independent nature.”

Having a decent back catalogue now of EP’s and free downloads and having played gigs everywhere from people’s houses to festival main stages to sets streamed via the internet, they are a hard working pair and it seems like all that work and talent is really paying off for them. Having signed to Wild Sound Recordings earlier this year they have now released their next EP ‘Lantern’ a really wonderful 4 track EP showing the band at their finest. With two studio tracks – the upbeat folky sounds of ‘Lantern’ and the down tempo acoustic beauty of ‘Love’s Tale’ and two live tracks – ‘Open’ and ‘Jigsaw’ both recorded in Cambridge this year and sounding just as good as the studio recorded tracks. I reviewed the EP earlier this year and as I said then it will be the perfect stepping stone for a debut album release. And with the release of ‘Lantern’ and many exciting things happening for the pair, I caught up with them to find out a bit more about them, this EP and what the rest of this year has in store for them.

How did you guys meet and why did you decide to start making music together?

RACHEL: I knew Steve through mutual friends, he used to DJ and I’d been to see his previous band quite a few times! We hadn’t seen each other for a while and he texted me out of the blue asking if I would like to do some vocals on the first Stylusboy release, ‘Fingerprint EP’. I hadn’t done anything musically for a while and thought it might be fun to be part of the EP. I guess things just grew from there! We now write together and are officially a duo, so exciting times ahead!
STEVE: Indeed, as Rachel has said we knew each other through mutual friends and I had always loved her voice when I’d seen her singing in other bands, so I was delighted when she agreed to sing on the first recordings I had done. We make a good musical partnership!

Who have been your influences musically?

RACHEL: Such a hard question, I love lyrics and someone like Johnny Cash or Laura Marling are incredible to me, the songs are so personal and stories are beautifully told, the same with Biffy Clyro. There are so many people who influence me; I couldn’t give you a definitive answer!
STEVE: Like Rachel I have so many musical influences. I really like The Civil Wars and Laura Marling but I also love a lot of louder guitar music like Pearl Jam or Biffy Clyro. I love discovering new music.

How did you feel about releasing your latest EP ‘Lantern’ recently and how has the reaction been so far?

RACHEL: I am immensely proud of the ‘Lantern EP’. ‘Lantern’ itself was one of the first songs that came out of our song writing sessions; it felt good from the start and seemed to flow really easily. ‘Love’s Tale’ is a song that means so much to Steve as it was written for his sister’s wedding, I had very little to do with the bare bones of that song; but I am proud of what I have contributed.
STEVE: It has been brilliant to release ‘Lantern EP’ on Wild Sound Recordings who have been amazing to work with. The EP shows where we are as a duo at this time. The artwork has been an exciting process, we worked with artist Cheyenne Bristow who has hand drawn 100 individual copies of the EP each one has a slightly different lantern on the cover. ‘Love’s Tale’ was a difficult song to write as it was going to be performed at my sister’s wedding so I knew it had to be pretty poignant. My wife contributed quite a bit to the song and lyrically it changed quite a bit from the first version.
RACHEL: There has been a lot of great feedback so far. It’s an amazing feeling to create something that is received so well…hopefully it whets the appetite for the album!
STEVE: Our fans have been really excited by the EP and the development in our sound. Working with Polly Paulusma and John Parker on the recordings has been brilliant.

You’ve released 3 EP’s and lots of your music is available for free, do you think releasing music this way before an album is a better thing for bands today and why?

RACHEL: I think it does whet the appetite of the audience; it also helps us to gauge public opinion about the songs. It’s also nice to remind people you’re there; it can be easy to fade into the background if you don’t release anything for a while!
STEVE: We haven’t been at the right stage in our musical journey to release an album before so EPs have been a great way to capture our sound and share our songs with people. Free downloads are also a great way of introducing our music to different people.

Are there any plans for an album and when do you think it will be released?

RACHEL: There are, I can’t say too much; but we’ve finished recording it and are looking at releasing it in the Autumn. 10 tracks of Stylusboy sounds!
STEVE: We will be announcing the release date and title very soon so keep checking our website!

The lyrics to your songs are very honest and emotional, do you sometimes feel you are putting too much of yourselves out there for all to see?

RACHEL: I always find that the best songs (from artists that I listen to) are vulnerable songs. They’re people putting themselves out there for everyone to see.
STEVE: Lyrics for me are like painting a picture, but not always making the picture too obvious. Some of our lyrics are narratives told from a character’s point of view and some are personal to us. It is important to put emotion into the lyrics but we always try to be hopeful in what we are writing about.

As well as touring you’ve played gigs in people’s houses and broadcast sets online, how did these come about? And which do you prefer playing?

RACHEL: Steve is the mastermind behind all technologically advanced gigging/house show experiences! He is a technological wizard and up for trying new stuff, I don’t think he ever likes to be too conventional!
STEVE: House shows are great fun and very different, they are very relaxed and intimate. The audience are able to talk to you, ask questions and interact more. The online shows are similar really, I did a number on solo online shows about 2 years ago and they were watched by people all over the world. Then when Google Plus started offering Hangouts on Air we started them again. I now host a regular online gig with Right Chord Music, each show is different and has its own nuances and treats!

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

RACHEL: Release the album, get gigging and enjoy the sun whilst it lasts! Hopefully we’ll see you at a gig soon!
STEVE: We have a number of live dates that support the album but for now, please check out our new ‘Lantern EP’. You can also like us on Facebook and on follow us on Twitter – @stylusboy and @rai_chull

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