Artist: Granville Automatic
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
Latest album: Radio Hymns
Personal nicknames (or rejected band names): We really thought we were going to call the band The Sound of Yesterday.
How often do you hide behind a character in a song or use “you” when it’s actually “me”?
Vanessa Olivarez: The fun thing about Granville is that most times, we aren’t writing about ourselves. It’s fun to dive into someone else’s human experience and imagine that it’s your own. I think as writers, we get tired of scribing the same love song over and over again in a different way … so sometimes it’s a good brain workout to shift the focus onto another topic. I’ve written from the perspective of mothers, soldiers, pieces of furniture, ghosts, lovers, and the like, and I feel like it gives me a greater appreciation for those stories I’m trying to honor. However, if you knew my life and its ins and outs, you would definitely hear all of the hidden personal feelings and thoughts within those characters. I guess you have to read between the lines!
What rituals do you have, either in the studio or before a show?
VO: My rituals are sort of non-rituals. More just habitual peculiarities, like my weird motorboat warm ups, and long looping sirens, and going to the car to run (and visualize) my first song, and never eating before I sing. I also drink a ton of room temperature water and gargle it to the tune of whatever to kick-start my vox. I’m actually a very nervous performer, so I tend to get relatively quiet before I jump on stage for fear of working myself up too much. Once I get through the first song, it’s usually all bets off. I often channel the nerves into saying whatever comes into my head at any given moment … which can be either a blast or really horrifying depending on who you ask. Oh. And always lipstick on stage!!
What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
VO: I would say the moment I knew I wanted to be a musician was the moment I figured out I could sing. I used to give performances for my Grandma in her living room from the time I was about 2 years old. I’d sing to Rainbow Brite, or blast my favorite record She’s So Unusual, and my Grandma always let me indulge in whatever ridiculous routine I’d put together for her. I’ve always had an affinity for music, the stage, and an audience. I don’t think that kind of thing is something you acquire, but something you’re born with. As a performer, the love you have for making people laugh, or cry, or just feel something never really disappears. That feeling is addictive.
What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc — inform your music?
Elizabeth Elkins: People who create in other mediums fascinate me. I like hanging around writers, painters, architects, etc. We’re all just trying to tell stories in different ways. Since we often write about history, there are plenty of history books that were the spark for these songs. I often think I’m just a very frustrated novelist.
If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?
EE: We really hope these songs are a gateway drug for people to remember stories from the past. I’ve always said this band is going to be a slow burn, but, in the end, I know we will have a collection of albums that truly have something to say.
Photo credit: Holly J Haroz