Twin sisters create ghostly vocal melodies as the Casket Girls
Make no mistake about their haunted sonic intentions
Published: March 19, 2014
THE GRAVEFACE ROADSHOW, featuring THE CASKET GIRLS, Stargazer Lilies, Dreamend
8 p.m. Friday | Will’s Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave. | willspub.org | $10
Unabashed genre-blending makes describing music nearly meaningless. But the Casket Girls spell out their sonic intentions plainly – that moniker, album titles like 2012’s Sleepwalking and 2014’s True Love Kills the Fairy Tale, and song names like “Amputated Fate” all provide obvious indications of the Savannah, Ga., trio’s ghostly electro-pop and disembodied synth whomp.
Those beats are crafted by Ryan Graveface, occasional member of Black Moth Super Rainbow and owner of Graveface Records. But what makes the Casket Girls stand out is the ethereal vocals of twin sisters Phaedra and Elsa Greene, who Graveface stumbled upon playing autoharp and harmonizing under a tree in Savannah in 2011. Even though he wasn’t looking to take on another musical project, Graveface says he knew the Greene sisters presented a special opportunity.
Congratulations to Jason Branch, the winner of our Casket Girls ticket giveaway, who submitted this as his favorite Black Moth Super Rainbow video.
“The Casket Girls topples everything I thought being in a band could be,” he says. “I met Phaedra and Elsa when I was about to turn 30, and I was getting pretty fucking jaded. It’s been so refreshing, because they’re creative and talented in an incredibly unique way.”
Although True Love Kills the Fairy Tale builds upon Sleepwalking’s success, the band’s accidental origin story and eerie vibe are still palpable. The Greenes, who always sing together in an interlocked near-falsetto that floats high above Graveface’s blown-out beats, wrote True Love’s lyrics in a single stream of consciousness.
“We do our best to fearlessly follow our gut instincts and not let judgment interfere,” Elsa says via email. “We set up two mics and record our very first listens to the music Ryan sends us, referencing and relying on our respective free-form writings, [in which] we are constantly meditating on becoming one with the collective unconscious. … The idea is to get away from letting our brains filter and judge every thought before it’s complete. It was surreal, however, to listen back to what we had written [for True Love]. ... Much like a dream, it slowly came back to us the more we listened back.”
Even the Casket Girls aren’t entirely immune to earthly concerns, though. Five days into the Graveface Roadshow, their van – carrying everyone and their equipment – was totaled in New York City. The tour went on, but the accident only punctuated the challenges of taking a relatively young band out on tour as headliners.
“The hype surrounding us does not dictate record sales, so you hope it will dictate ticket sales,” Graveface says. “And the Road Show is a risky endeavor. There are no headliners to speak of; it’s just a group of friends who all sell the same amount of records, which isn’t much. But it’s reawakened my passion for playing music.”
Rolling into Orlando, the Casket Girls have plenty to savor: their SXSW debut, their first nationwide tour, steadily building chemistry. “We’re getting closer all the time,” Elsa says. “I had no idea it was possible to feel closer to my sister. And Ryan already feels like family.” Yet even that can’t completely gloss over the Casket Girls’ morose vibe. “But just when you feel you understand a thing, it changes,” Elsa continues. “Isn’t it weird that change feels so scary yet is the most natural thing – and the only thing you can count on?”
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