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How Globe-Trotting & Spontaneous Busking Can Sharpen Live Performance Skills
The twin sensation Good Graeff has emerged on the music scene and people are certainly screaming I Want That! The indie, folk-pop duo brings a little something special with their cello, uke, guitar and sweet vocals. Their songs have infectious beats that make me want to go on a summer road trip with a surfboard strapped on top of my VW Bus. Brit and Brooke Graeff have a fun-loving nature about them and that permeates their music.
It’s not surprising that the songs on their newest release Good Job Go have an upbeat, eclectic vibe. With time spent in Sarasota, Florida, and in Vietnam, the duo has mastered a unique sound of their own. The sisters have busked for tourists on the barrier islands in Florida and are now playing bigger venues while on tour. Busking and bigger venues require different performance styles. Transitioning between the two has made Good Graeff notice the stark differences between them. Brit explains that “with busking, it’s about making instantly entertaining music, and it can be risky relying on each individual to contribute. We have thirty seconds to make an impression. In a venue we have thirty minutes to leave an impression…” Brit notes that while it is always fun to busk, there is a sense of security with having a venue and a chance to make a name for yourself.▼ Article continues below ▼
The sisters were apart for six years, seldom seeing each other as they pursued various schooling, but reconnected in Hanoi, Vietnam. Once reunited, they returned to what they did best, making music. The people and environment that surrounded them inspired them to create something beautiful. Brooke was inspired by the whole experience and notes that because they had such limited resources, second and third-hand instruments, they were forced to create simple, straightforward music. Needless to say that being in Vietnam influenced their sound and brought them back to the performance life.
While teaching English in Vietnam, Brooke asked a group of six-year-olds to draw their emotions. Brooke recollects that one very memorable student drew faces labeled ‘Good, Very Good, Good Job, Go.’ Upon returning to tour the United States, the duo was inspired by that student and aptly found a title for their record.
The songs on the album are layered with strong lyrics and melodies. Brooke admits to having a few careers but that “nothing as subjective as writing music. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way.” With that being said, each track was written very differently and in different locations; “I Want That” was written in New York, “Good Touch” in Florida, and “Unsung Heroes” in a state park in Georgia. Inspiration strikes when it wants and the common thread between the songs is that they were all created from a spark. “We call it having a song in my heart, and when that happens I run off and record it pretty instantaneously,” says Brooke.
“I Want That” opens with a distinct rhythmic indie-pop drumming which leads into the vocals (“We’re taking over the city tonight”) that float over the melody. When the beat drops, a full instrumental and vocal riff takes off. The song lulls and we are introduced to a warm cello and airy vocals, and later transition back into the full instrumentation and vocals. This ebb-and-flow happens naturally and adds complexity to a seemingly simple head-bopping, foot-tapping song.
“Peiky Peiky” is easily the standout track on the album. The song is filled with imagery and opens with the lyrical phrase: “Be like little bunnies always riding on the edges of your coattails.” The melody is strong and memorable; they undoubtedly effectively used musical earworms. The presence of the cello adds a whole different dimension. The warm vocal sounds, precise cello bowing technique, and lyrical elements make the song a homerun.
Good Job Go is Good Graeff’s second EP and was recorded in studio with producer Peter Verdell and engineer Adrian Alvarado. By adding them to their team, they were able to hone in on their style. Whatever behind-the-scenes work that it took to get this EP off the ground worked because MTV featured the music video for “I Want That” and even went so far to say that they rank it as one of their new favorite acts of 2015. That type of public recognition can’t be denied. Reflecting upon the making of the video, Brit recalls, “Working with the director, Hali Gardella, was such a blast. We knew we wanted to do something lighthearted and fun. She really did such an incredible job.”
A successful Kickstarter campaign can often, well, kick-start things. The band successfully used Kickstarter to acquire gear and get the band off the ground upon returning from Vietnam, but bands don’t just benefit financially from the fundraising platform. Brit expresses gratitude for the site and the people that utilize it: “Keeping a band going is a huge financial burden for independent [touring] bands in the first few years. I think fans understand that. A band is not just the musicians in it; it’s up to the fans and the people who love the music to perpetuate the machine. And we’ve found they will. Fans want the bands they love to succeed.”
If Good Job Go is any indicator, this won’t be the last we hear of Good Graeff. Their light-hearted nature makes them likeable and their sound sets them apart from their contemporaries. I asked Brooke what she would tell other musicians who are trying to make it in the industry and her response could not have been greater: “Be like-able? Ummmm…drink apple cider vinegar? Try and get some sleep?” Clearly musicians are humans, too.
Follow on Twitter @goodgraeff
Photography by Jonathan Weiner
Good Job Go
Standout Track: “I Want That”
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