It’s a trait rarely sewn into the fabric of todays new talent; many of whose success is the end product of a Fordist production line.
For trio Thirdstory though, being organic is ingrained in their artistic DNA and has consequently won them a mass following the globe over. And the support is growing.
Honing in on power of the internet, the group – comprised of Ben, Richard, and Elliott – uploaded cover after soulful cover; in the process creating the perfect storm of anticipation for their own material.
With their debut album due in 2017 and current single ‘G Train (ft. Pusha T)’ making all the right noise, we caught up with member Richard to discuss their rise, artistry, and takeover plans.
Our discussion came on the heels of two sold-out dates in London.
Get to know Thirdstory below…
That Grape Juice (Sam): For those not in the know, tell us a little about the group’s journey up until this point? You met in New York?
Thirdstory (Richard): We pretty much met at a venue called Rockwood in New York City. Elliott and I were playing two different sets back-to-back and we just decided to start working together. Ben I actually knew from an arts program from two years before that and I had him come to New York and we all started harmonizing together. That’s how it all started.
TGJ: Who are some of your biggest inspirations? Because we hear essences of throwback and modern influences too.
TS: As a group, we have a lot of different artists that we look up to but ones that come up a lot include John Legend and Amy Winehouse. Going back, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, we absolutely love the sound of their harmonized vocals so we listen, and take a lot of cues from them for arranging ideas. And even more than that, Joni Mitchell and Donny Hathaway, going into previous generations. But I think that’s a pretty good list of people who have influenced us.
TGJ: You really stand out for bringing the vocal back to the forefront; what’s your take on today’s (arguable) focus on theatrics over talent?
TS: It’s an interesting moment because I think there are others out there doing really exciting things with vocals including Kanye West and Bon Iver, taking vocals and adding distortion, and really understanding what vocals can do. But it’s an interesting moment because there’s also a lot of oddity everywhere. I think when we started out we wanted to really show just what we can do as vocalists, just on our own without any tuning or production or theatrics. It’s a very interesting era; I guess I’m curious to see what happens (rather) than disgusted with how things are happening.
TGJ: We, like many others, discovered you with your Sam Smith cover of ’I’m Not The Only One’ – how did you each discover your love for music?
TS: Actually, my mother was and is a singer and she pretty much had me in the car when I was a toddler, listening to music on the radio, so I guess I had a really musical upbringing. I think that it wasn’t quite exactly the same for the other members of the band but I know that the other key members have been playing instruments from a young age.
TGJ: Though you have a fervent fan base many are still getting to know you – both musically and as personalities. Could you share something we’d be surprised to know about each of you…
TS: I guess people might be interested to know that our kind of different roles in the group. Elliott is kind of the fashionista of the group, we take a lot of our cues from his style and advice; I know most about technology, so I’m often the one recording and at the computer kind of facilitating, getting stuff done; and I would say Ben is definitely the most vocal of the group – he is super vocal in social settings and sometimes acts as our spokesperson.
TGJ: With Christmas around the corner, what do you want to unwrap this holiday?
TS: I guess we always want clothes, but I guess in my case I’m always after recording equipment. A pedal that I think Bon Iver and Kanye West both use called the TC-Helicon pedal and I’d definitely love to get more pedals.
TGJ: You have a unique positioning in that while being on the come-up, you’ve established a wide enough base to tour the world over and over again. Something some established acts struggle to do. What does Thirdstory define as success?
TS: Totally. I mean I’ll say we’ve been surprised by the response in England and now in Amsterdam, the tickets sold really quickly and we’ve been really pleasantly surprised by the reception over here. I think for us we would just love to wake up every morning and call anybody we want and collaborate. So, I think getting there we want to tour as much as possible and get as many listeners as possible. I think the end goal is to collaborate with anybody.
TGJ: Any dream group collaborations?
TS: I would say maybe each member has a different person they would pick but one person that constantly comes up is Kanye and Justin Vernon from Bon Iver. I would say Elliott would love to have a collaboration with Matt Corby. I mean Matt Corby would be amazing, all of us would want to collaborate with him, but Elliott especially. Personally, for a long time I’ve been obsessed with Bjork.
TGJ: And finally, what does the New Year ahead hold? An album? If so, when can we expect it and who have you been working with?
TS: Right now, we’re finishing up the album in the studio and we plan to get new music together as soon as we can. We have in store for next year and we are really excited to show our fan base different new aspects of what we do.
TGJ: And whom have you been working with in the studio?
TS: Right now, we’re working with Melé, who recently worked on ‘Blonde’ by Frank Ocean, among a lot of other things, and we’re about to head in some cool producers from London.
It’s gonna be great.