Signing Story: The Staves--Sisters Sign to Atlantic


Date Signed: Winter 2011
Label: Atlantic Records
Type of Music: Folk Pop
Band Members: Camilla, Emily, Jessica Stavely-Taylor
Management: Sumit Bothra
Booking: Adam Voith, [email protected]
Legal: Erica Bellarosa
Publicity: [email protected]
A&R: Gregg Nadel

In their pre-Atlantic Records days, the musical careers of the three sisters Stavely-Taylor (Camilla, Emily, Jessica) were not unlike that of any other artists. They made home recordings. They wrote songs together at their mother’s kitchen table. They earned only enough to finance the next tour. But the Staves’ heavily harmonized folk pop was beguiling enough to attract the attention of both Glyn Johns (Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin) and Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, Tom Jones), separately, and prompt the producers to pass along the English trio’s music to Atlantic Records.

“They asked us if we were interested in talking to a label,” vocalist Emily says. “We hadn’t really thought about it. Ethan had just worked with Paolo Nutini, who was with Atlantic. He said the label seemed to be very artist-focused and was better than any other label he’d worked with.”

Atlantic liked what they heard, and after attending one of the Staves’ performances in London, the label offered the band a deal on the spot. Emily says she doesn’t recall many details of the meeting, only that it was promising enough to accept the offer. “The thing I remember about the deal is that they were so compromising. There was such a willingness to make it work.”

“Having grown up together, we know what it’s like to be in the car with each other for 12 hours."

As sisters making music professionally, Emily says they had to navigate the relationship between family unit and band as well as the new relationship with Atlantic. “Having grown up together, we know what it’s like to be in the car with each other for 12 hours. We know how to communicate with minimum dialogue. That can be very helpful in getting stuff done creatively or business-wise, it also means that you kind of have to work at being professional with each other when you need to be. And the three of us had to learn to let other people in and trust that other people are ok as well.”

Following a handful of EPs with Atlantic, the Staves released their debut LP, Dead & Born & Grown, late last year, on which the father-and-son Johns producers collaborated for the first time.

—Jessica Pace