Meet The Grahams, A Nashville Duo With A New EP, Recording Studio And A Documentary Film
Nashville husband and wife duo, Alyssa and Doug Graham have not only literally weathered the storm but a series of challenging events and making new music together seems to have strengthened their bond. The New York bred, New Jersey raised couple were new parents in Nashville when the tornado stuck right before the pandemic and Alyssa suffered some medical setbacks; postpartum depression, a debilitating vocal injury and wrist surgery. They are now celebrating the release of Sha La La, a new ep out today (a full length is planned for next year), their recording studio in Nashville, 3 Sirens and a documentary film about their motorcycle journey along Route 66! The Grahams play WMOT’s Finally Friday From Home at noon today.
AnaLee: Congratulations on your new release, Sha La La is out today! We’ve all been through a lot this last year and a half, but it seems like the hits just kept on coming for you two. Take us through your journey to recording and releasing this ep and how the title reflects your approach to life these days.
The Grahams: We named the EP, Sha La La because at some point you just have to let go. Let go of disappointment, let go of self-pity and judgement, let go of aspirations driven by narcissism, let go of what you thought was real, let go of control, let go of anger and let go of who you thought you were and embrace who you may become. Like everyone else, we had a difficult 14 months during the pandemic. We were new parents with a one year old when the pandemic broke out. A child we had waited to have for over 20 years and spent 3 years (with the help of science) conceiving. We had a brand new record coming out that was 4 years in the making and our best work to date (in our minds). We had an amazing tour booked both nationally and internationally and we were very excited. March 17th, 2020 that all changed and a downward spiral ensued.
We had no family nearby and we were new parents isolated In lockdown with a one year old (I know any parent reading this will sympathize). Obviously, all touring got cancelled. I was suffering from postpartum, I found out I needed surgery on my wrist so I couldn’t play guitar for 8 weeks and to top it all off I suffered a vocal hemorrhage and couldn’t speak let alone sing for weeks (followed by months of vocal therapy). Luckily, we still had it better than many as our love affair is always a constant (since we were kids). When we went into the studio, we had fragments and ideas and we just wanted to experiment, which is evident on this EP. We had come to terms with everything going on (the pandemic) and the major life changes we were experiencing so we wanted to let go of structure, our normal methods and just make art with friends. When you can’t make plans, make art (and a lot of love). We thought “Sha La La,” a recurring vocal run on one of the tracks, was a fitting name for just letting go of everything you thought once made sense but doesn’t anymore.
AnaLee: I understand you are planning a full length album release for 2022. Will it pick up where Sha La La leaves off or can we expect something entirely different?
The Grahams: Oh, if only I knew the answer to that. Lol. We’ve certainly given up on predicting the future or the path that music and art will lead us down. However, we are confident that after Sha La La our next record will be a continuation of our “anti-perfect” exploration. We are planning to work with Dan Molad again because we speak the same romantic, whimsical and exploratory language. Danny is never void of ideas about any music or production. He will go where no man has gone before and love every minute of it. He also is a joy to work with. People often think that darkness and anger make for a good record. Sometimes, being with people you love and embracing goodness and beauty can also make something magical. Together, with Danny we found that magic. We also will, as always, work with our childhood friend and lifelong co-writer, Bryan McCann. The three of us are so connected spiritually and musically. All of our records are a collaboration with BMC since we were kids growing up in Jersey. However, Georgette (our daughter) will surely have an impact on our next full release as she has shifted the paradigm.
AnaLee: In 2018, you opened an invite only creative space and recording studio in East Nashville, 3 Sirens. Tell us about it and what your vision is for 3 Sirens.
The Grahams: For us, the recording process is very much about creating a vibe so we can feel as comfortable as possible to go down the rabbit hole with friends, explore and experiment freely. 3 Sirens was a longtime dream of ours to build a “utopian” artistic community. The basic vision was to bring together beautiful minds and offer an inspired space and community for creativity and exploration. We wanted to develop a unique collective of producers, songwriters, musicians and artists of all kinds. In essence we wanted to get back to the times of artistic exchange like the 1960’s in Greenwich Village and the 1920’s in Paris. We wanted to make a vibey professional space with all of our favorite toys so that our friends would want to come and hangout, talk, create, vent, and feel inspired to create together. We wanted our producer pals and artists we love and respect to come and feel at home. After working in many studios, some extraordinary and some not, we have learned what is and what isn’t inviting and inspiring for us. A good space helps to create a good piece of art. Our goal was to make 3 Sirens otherworldly, serene, comfortable, inspirational and loaded with killer gear. A playground of sound and thought. What happened in creating this beautiful space is we started a lifelong artistic mission that we are continuing to develop and people are loving it. That’s the goal.
AnaLee: New York filmmakers Natalie Brasington and David Johnson filmed a documentary during your motorcycle trip across the infamous Route 66. Tell us a little about that road trip and about the film Searching The Milky Way.
The Grahams: We think of ourselves as artists, not just musicians. We both paint and write. Doug has multiple collections of paintings and sculptures and we both have a lot of passion for the art of filmmaking. Sometimes visual expression is more powerful to portray an idea or a message. Natalie and David have collaborated with us many times over the years. They are incredible artists. When we told them our vision for the Route 66 motorcycle journey, they jumped at the chance to work together again. The documentary captures our adventures on motorcycles across the Mother Road during a frightening and tumultuous time in American history. The road trip became the inspiration for our third album, Kids Like Us which ironically was released on March 27th, 2020 during an even more terrifying time in American and world history.
AnaLee: You recently announced a UK tour for next year that involves the documentary and a live performance. Tell us about that and if there are any plans to bring that show home to the US.
The Grahams: Again, planning for the future seems a bit futile but one can only hope we can continue to make art and share it with those who are willing to listen. We shall see what tomorrow brings. No matter what, we are hopeful.
“Beyond The Palisades”
“Searching The Milky Way”
“Pilgrims and Punks” – Live From 3 Sirens