Doug and Alyssa Graham dreamed big in 2018 when they opened 3Sirens, a hidden recording studio in East Nashville that’s become a go-to destination for independent musicians of all kinds. Now recording their own projects together as The Grahams, the couple grew up together in New Jersey and have since traversed the globe with their roots-pop blend of original music. But for their latest, they invited friends to record a cover song at 3Sirens for an upcoming compilation titled 3Sirens Presents: With Love Part 1. The Grahams themselves are getting in on the action with a mesmerizing cover of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You.”
“I always always wanted to cover that song. It spoke to me in a way that allowed me to wander through the magical world the band set up. It also spoke to me on a romantic level as it was something I could relate to with Doug as my lifelong partner,” Alyssa says. “For our cover version we slowed it down, leaned into the slow drip and embraced the jazzy mood of the changes. It felt a little more personal this way to us but nobody can do it even close to the original.”
Doug and Alyssa Graham invited the Bluegrass Situation to 3Sirens this spring for an afternoon hang.
BGS: What were the first steps in bringing 3Sirens from a good idea into reality?
ALYSSA: It took a while and it’s still not there. How’s that? (laughs) So, the good idea started when Doug and I started rambling on about how we grew up, which was together around campfires with everyone taking an instrument. Being hippie kids and playing music in any way we could. So, the idea has been there since we were kids. We have always loved that whole idea. Then we got caught up in the world and the business of music and forgot about the idea for a while.
But the idea really started becoming a possibility when we were holed up with our friend Davíd Garza in our New York apartment during a blizzard right before South by Southwest around 2014. And we were just talking about the idea of creating a space that was reminiscent of what they were doing in the ‘60s. Or the ‘20s in Paris where artists would come together. If you knew Garza, you’d know he was like, “No cell phones. No computers, no technology.” We got past that, but that was the idea. Like-minded people, artists of all kinds, together. Garza was like, “Let’s see if my friend John Doe would be a guinea pig.” Who doesn’t love John Doe? We were about to go down to South by Southwest, and we didn’t have this house yet, so we rented a studio and said, “John, do you want to try to somehow make this a reality, conceptually, for one session, and see what we get?” So, that’s how it started.
DOUG: Then we got Ben Kweller to do a session with us, and we’re still working on getting that release plan together. And then we had an idea where we wanted to make a movie. Wouldn’t it be really cool if we got a bunch of musicians together and made a soundtrack? Dex, our buddy here, called a bunch of people in Nashville to come up with a compilation. So, here’s three pieces of content we had sitting around – John Doe, Ben Kweller, and the compilation. Then we started hanging out with Dex a lot and said, “We want to buy a space.” And here we are, basically. With our friends, we were drilling holes in the floor and running wires underneath the house and into each room, getting the studio plugged in.
What are some of your favorite memories or moments here?
ALYSSA: I would say one of my favorite memories is closing on this house. We had been looking and looking, and we were recording our own record at that time in Blackbird, and next door at Creative Workshop. They are amazing studios with everything at your fingertips. But we were also actively looking for an old house to turn into this. We saw lots of properties with Dex and then we went on tour. We were in France when we bought the place. We were on tour with our whole band and had a few days off in Paris. We bought the place sight unseen. Dex saw it – he Facetimed me and I saw every inch of it. We bought the place and I think my favorite memory is when we came back from that tour, we came in here. It was an empty house. We had bought a few of these rugs and the three of us stayed up for five days rolling out the rugs and putting up chandeliers. Pumped great music through here for five days. It was a clean palette. It was the beginning of something. We still don’t know what that is, honestly.
Where do you go from here?
ALYSSA: Lots of places! (laughs) One of the main reasons we wanted to do this is that we eventually want to start a foundation element to 3Sirens. We’re working on developing that concept, whether it’s working on grants for struggling artists or specifically musicians, or whether it’s partnering with some of the music schools. At the core of this whole thing is a collaborative sensibility where we want to bring people together and try to support artists in some way. There’s gotta be a philanthropic element.
DOUG: We have this larger dream than just this place. This is one element of a creative support network that we want to figure out. This is the most relatable part for us. We’re musicians, we’re here, so let’s make this a spot. We’ll start to make it available to people. How do we do that? How do we make it available to as many people as we can without trashing the place? (laughs)
ALYSSA: You can’t call up and book space. It’s not like that. It’s either we know you, or Dex knows you, or a friend told you about it, or you’re somebody we’re interested in musically or artistically and we invite you to come. It’s sort of a network that way. But in the immediate future, there’s a compilation coming out with all Nashville artists, which is cool. We also want to start releasing albums. We have a working relationship with (music distributor) The Orchard, and basically we’re going to start putting out records of artists that we not only love and support, but also people that might not have the right story, or the right look, or the right sound for a niche label.
We’ve talked about how 3Sirens can benefit the artists who come here, but what is the reward for you personally in having this space?
ALYSSA: I think we’re at a place in our life where, yes, we’re always going to pursue our own music and we’re writing a new record right now. We love being The Grahams. We’ve been doing this together since we were 10 years old. That will never change, but we have a 3-year-old and we’re at the point right now where we want to see beautiful things going into the world. We have the means and the dream to make this a place that brings joy to people, including us. We love to be around great music. We love to support great music. We love to hear great music.
DOUG: We did grasp at this music business for a long time, and now we’re kind of over that. We figured out that we just want to make music. We don’t want to be famous. This is a bigger dream, to provide joy and to provide a space.
Photo Credit: Alex Berger of Weird Candy