Dreaming big can seem impossible when you come from a small town but that has not stopped the sisters of Stonefield who grew up in rural lands outside of Melbourne, Australia. The girls don’t come from a particularly musical family although their parents met because their uncles were in bands together. Amy, Sarah, Holly and Hanna Findlay credit their sound to their parents great record collection. It took a minute for the reserved band to open up a bit and reveal the joy, appreciation and frustrations of crossing continents in pursuit of their rock ‘n; roll dreams. A journey that started over 10 years ago when the youngest member, Holly was just seven years old.
Interview & Photos by ZB Images
Grimy Goods: Escaping from a small town is not easy, what has that been like for you? How has your community reacted?
Amy: It’s the same thing we were actually talking about it the other day that it’s kind of crazy that we did get out of that because it is the expectation that you settle down with someone that you probably went to school with have kids buy a house. That’s what most of our friend have done, even when there is someone else from our area that moved to the city its like good on them. Everyone is quite like “oh wow”
Holly: I feel people from our community are proud.
Amy: They appreciate what a big deal it is. Thinking back to when we were kids, even most of our family are from closer to the city and referred to us as “Little House on The Prairie.” Our mom dressed us in white cheesecloth dresses and as sisters we stuck very close together. We were very polite, speak when spoken to.
Grimy Goods: You certainly have overcome that. Do you feel like you understand the music industry or are you still learning?
Amy: It almost feels like we are starting from scratch for this record because we have been through a lot. We have experienced a few different labels. We have changed everyone we work with and changed the way we approach music. It took all those years, being we were so young when we started, to absorb everything and understand it and understand that with music or anything creative you are the only person who knows the right answer, there is no right or wrong. It’s about what your personal preference want to do,
Grimy Goods: It sounds like you took ownership.
Amy: Yeah, being so young you think you are supposed to take everyone’s advice and everyone knows better than you. But then..
Hanna: Its just growing older and speaking to a lot of different people and getting more confidence in yourself and trusting your own opinions. It’s nice to get other peoples advice but also you have to learn when to take and leave other people’s opinions.
Grimy Goods: A good friend of mine came out to your show and was blown away he said “It seems like the Australians just get rock ‘n’ roll. What is the scene like down there?
Amy: There is a bit of a psych rock scene happening, Tame Impala gets it or the whole Flightless (their Australian label) scene.
Hanna: It’s just on a much smaller scale.
Amy: It’s a MUCH smaller scale, Australia is so different then here. It’s great in many ways and so many incredible bands that come out of australia but if you stay there it’s very limiting. There is basically one radio station that rules the industry and you need their support.
Grimy Goods: Yeah, LA is amazing for music but bands can get stuck here too because touring is so expensive. A lot of bands I know have had great experiences in europe and find the scene there very welcoming. Have you been there?
Sarah: I think its weird that we haven’t done Europe.
Amy: We haven’t done Europe we have only played in England. People say they think there is an audience there and we would love to start doing that. At the end of the day, it comes down to money and what you can afford to do and we are starting from scratch there. The reason we focused on the U.S. is initially we played a music conference in Australia similar to SXSW and met our U.S. booking agent and through her our U.S. manager and so we suddenly had a few people helping us and supporting us to achieve something here. Obviously we would love to play everywhere and do everything but I guess you just do what you can until it falls into place.
Grimy Goods: Have you guys been going to any shows while your are in Los Angeles or have you just been working?
Hana: We haven’t really been to any shows.
Holly: Which is weird.
Sarah: I feel like we have been doing heaps of stuff.
Amy: Just our residency dates because it’s been a four-band bill, it’s been interesting to see…
Holly: Yeah we have been getting a dose of new bands every week just playing our show.
Grimy Goods: While becoming a band, did you take up musical instruments independently?
Hanna: I think there was like an unspoken thing that we would all play in a band together. And thankfully we all took an interest in separate instruments. I remember seeing a Pink Floyd live video and seeing a solo in “Comfortably Numb” and I was like yeah, I want to play guitar, so I guess it was luck we all took up different things.
Grimy Goods: Since Stonefield is an all-female band I’m sure everyone says something about it. Do you feel it’s a focus? Personally, I have noticed maybe more so in the last year or so almost every band I have been shooting lately in Los Angeles has at least one female.
Amy: That is amazing. It feels like it’s really different here [Los Angeles], to be honest I don’t feel that the whole gender thing at all when we’re here, which is awesome. At home [Australia] it seems like a really big focus at the moment. It’s all over the music media. A band just called out a festival because they were an all-girl band they got put on one of the side stages and they had a bigger crowd than the main stage. There definitely is a lot of that going on and it needs to change. I haven’t felt that since I have been here.
Hanna: It feels more normalized.
Grimy Goods: It might be regional, I am not sure if its true outside of L.A. A friend’s band was trying to book in england and got a rejection from a venue just saying “We dont book female singers”
[Stonefield in unison]: Whaaaat?!?! That’s insane!
Holly: I feel like if anything here people will come up and say you have to be siblings at least two of you look super similar. But we try not to project that we are sisters because we want it to be about, that hopefully, we are a good band not that we are four sisters from Australia or all girls but of course people are going to notice.
Grimy Goods: The cool thing about siblings are your harmonies. They’re like nothing else, but I understand you don’t want to be known as the Von Trapp family singers.
Hanna: At least it’s a nicer focus than oh you’re all girls.
Amy: There was a possible opportunity to tour in China and we were rejected because they wanted an all-boy band.
Sarah: Which is just insane … it’s wild that’s still a thing.
Grimy Goods: Amy, there is a video with you singing up front and not behind the drums do you have a preference?
Amy: It’s interesting, we did for a while try to change it up and have another drummer,
So that I could connect to the audience more because the drum kit is a bit of a barrier and the girls are more reserved but sometimes you want to have extra intimacy. I love singing while not playing drums but I also like playing drums as well. It definitely feels like “our” band that way with someone else it doesn’t feel the same way. The last drummer we had, he was definitely our favorite.
Holly: He blended in with us more than other drummers have.
Amy: [joking] Ideally one of you girls needs to learn how to play drums and i need to learn your instruments and then we can switch around.
Holly: I would love to play drums!
Sarah: [perhaps concerned this is a serious idea] We can’t do that now, it would just go down hill.
Holy: [egging Sarah on] I’ll learn playing drums real well doing fills the whole time!
Amy: Then I’d still feel restricted playing bass.
Sarah: That would be so weird.
Holly: I could not picture Amy playing bass that would be so unnatural.
Grimy Goods: Amy, would you be a low slung bass player or a high?
Holly: She would be a high bass player for sure!
Amy: It kind of misses the point though if i have to play bass and sing, I’d like to be able to just grab the mic and do whatever. Singing is definitely my main thing over drums, but I dont know its just not the same if there is someone else on the stage.
Grimy Goods: You could adopt another sibling who can play drums.
Grimy Goods: Do have a dream band you would love to tour with?
Holly: Can we pick someone who is dead?
Grimy Goods: Sure.
Holly: I would say Frank Zappa and The Mothers, to support them. That would be really cool.
Amy: But they would make us sound like the most boring band ever. We kind of did get to play with one of our dream band we got to support Fleetwood Mac in Australia. Which is pretty amazing.
Holly: We all cried when they started playing, we grew up listening to our mom and dad’s records and that is one of their favorite bands and they got to come to the show, and we were all just standing side of the stage when they started playing getting teary eyed.