If I hadn't have known already, within minutes of meeting The Staveley-Taylor sisters it was clear that theirs was far more than your average band mate relationship. Impossible to describe but equally as impossible to miss, these three people truly know each other. As anyone who has ever had a brother or sister will know, spending your childhood years with a sibling can sometimes be a challenge, let alone your whole career. Emily, Milly and Jessica have something truly unique, a connection that characterises not only their conversation with each other but also their music. This is a fact not missed by one Justin Vernon, who invited the trio to open for Bon Iver on their US and European tour three years ago.

Post-show evenings spent drinking and singing with the Bon Iver guys sparked a friendship that helped spawn If I Was, The Staves' forthcoming sophomore album. Not that that was the intention. Emily explained, "He just kind of said, when you have a bit of free time just come to the house, not even to make an album, or anything in fact, but just to chill and use his studio. It sounded really great because we had been touring for so long and we were really fucking tired. The idea of simply going and creating something for the first time in ages was really appealing." As fans of Vernon's music before supporting his band, the significance of the offer wasn't lost on them. Jessica told me, "We had become pretty close to him but we weren't like best mates at the time so it was still a bit like 'oh my God, Justin Vernon wants us to come and see him'! So we were super excited."

And so repeated trips to April Base, the Wisconsin home and studio of Justin Vernon, ensued. The setting was musically liberating for the trio. "He was just like, 'you as a musician need to be able to have some time to see through all the ideas that you have, and have a good time and have fun doing it'." And by the sounds of things, fun is what was had. When you are snowed in, what better to do than get drunk, watch Twin Peaks and record some tunes. "It was mainly the banter that literally just killed us," Jessica says, "There were regular points where one of us would be on the floor crying with laughter, dying about something hilarious. It was often making up ideas for joke bands, what their music would be, making up joke music, writing and recording joke songs by the joke bands." Milly: "We have thanked a few of the characters in the joke bands in the album liner notes!"

It was in this environment that the ideas developed over three years spent on the road transformed into the foundations of their sophomore LP. It was almost unexpected. Jessica explained that while their debut Dead & Born & Grown had the distinct intention of making the listener feel as though they were in the room with the band, the new record came about of its own accord. "For this one, because we kind of just went out there and hung out, made a load of demos and got drunk and just put loads of stuff on record for fun, it wasn't until the second trip out there that we realised we had about 10 really strong demos - Let's make an album. Up until that point the songs had just developed in this very free environment of just whack anything on it, it doesn't matter kind of thing."

This freedom and lack of expectation allowed the band to experiment with new sounds, a venture helped by the presence of Vernon and friends, not to mention his vast array of different instruments. And it was stepping out of their comfort zone instrumentation-wise where Vernon had the most musical influence. "I think the synth ideas stemmed from him," says Emily. "We hadn't really had the experience of using those kinds of electronic instruments before. It was weird, he kind of went 'how about this?' and just started playing along with us. It wasn't something I'd ever have expected to go with our music." Milly concurred, "You kind of initially think that it's gonna make some sort of (makes cat screeching noise) over the top of each track, but it really can make such beautiful earthly sounds as well."

And the result, If I Was, sounds just as organic and natural as the writing process that created it. It finds a perfectly weighted balance between the intimacy that the band's first album was characterised by, and new, expansive soundscapes that indicates a new-found confidence in The Staves; a confidence to use new instruments and a confidence to sound bigger and bolder than before. 'Black and White' is a prime example. It sees the Staveley-Taylor sisters standing defiantly with clenched fists, ready to take on the cheaters and naysayers. It's an image well put across in the tracks recently-released video. Although originally intended to be based on classic gameshow 'Catchphrase', the final version is set around the troubled relationships of a '70s TV newsroom. Jessica: "We didn't want it to be an out and out comedy because we didn't want it to damage the sentiment of the song. So I'm happy that it is funny but has an emotional core that maybe 'Catchphrase' wouldn't have had. But we were genuinely going to call up Roy Walker to try and get him involved!"

But these new musical elements mean some changes to the live show ahead of their UK tour. New musicians have been brought it in to man the synths and guitar, but the trio are mixing it up too. Jessica divulges, "We are all using keys and samples and stuff. Emily is doing more sort of textural stuff with the synths. She is kind of becoming a one man band. We are gonna tie all the instruments to her so she jingles and jangles as she walks. We're each playing more electric guitar too, cranking up the distortion, shocking people" [laughs]. "Mum says she's gonna shout 'Judas' at our London gig, she's always been so supportive," Milly jokes.

But it is precisely this family relationship that makes The Staves so special. And while the guitars and synths have been turned up for the better, it is still those three stunning voices that define. The Staves. As Justin Vernon has described it, "When you hear The Staves singing, it's literally physiological. Their sisterhood, their relation, and the combination of their voices is unlike anything I've ever heard." Me neither, Justin, me neither.

The Staves' new album, If I Was, is out on 23rd March 2015 via Atlantic Records.

  • 10th February - Arts Club, Liverpool
  • 12th February - Hackney Empire, London (Sold Out)
  • 13th February - O2 Academy, Oxford (Sold Out)
  • 14th February - The Phoenix, Exeter (Sold Out)
  • 16th February - Glee Club, Cardiff (Sold Out)
  • 17th February - The Junction, Cambridge (Sold Out)
  • 6th May - Olympia, Dublin (rescheduled from February)