Asked if they usually do interviews together, Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth drawl “Yeaah” in uncanny unison. Their voices weave intuitively inside or outside of their wryly comma-free duo Let’s Eat Grandma. “We were friends for 10 years before we started a band,” Walton says from Hollingworth’s bedroom in their hometown of Norwich, England. “We’re friends first, bandmates second.”
“We sort of met at the drawing table,” says Hollingworth, noting that she was drawing a snail when she caught Walton’s attention in a preschool class. They were 4 years old. “When you’re younger, they let you be creative, and we bonded that way at school and then we kind of maintained that.”
Now 19 and 20 respectively, Walton and Hollingworth have grown to know each other—and music—quite thoroughly. Let’s Eat Grandma earned accolades including best album at Britain’s Q Awards for the bewitching synth-pop of 2018 sophomore effort I’m All Ears, which they’ll support on April 3 at the Sinclair.
It all began quite casually when they hit their teens. Hollingworth took possession of her older sister’s castoff Yamaha keyboard and the DIY seeds of Let’s Eat Grandma were planted. “We’d get instruments from charity shops and stuff, whatever we could find really,” Walton says. “We did a gig that we organized when we were 14 and we played in a pub for our friends and families.”
Their rough initial repertoire amounted to covers ranging from the classic prog-pop group Supertramp to—a particular shared favorite—Welsh electropop act Marina and the Diamonds. “I don’t think we were ever like, ‘Oh, we’re the indie kids,’ ” Hollingworth says. “I very much did enjoy mainstream pop music as well as other stuff. Even if Marina was alternative, she was very popular at the time.”
Let’s Eat Grandma blends the accessible, the ominous and the whimsical on I’m All Ears. A streamlined advancement from the duo’s quirky 2016 debut, I, Gemini, the new album benefits from bolder production and programming by David Wrench, who worked with Bats for Lashes and FKA Twigs. “We just wanted to work with someone who had a really good energy and could bring things to life,” Hollingworth says. “But in terms of the sounds that are actually on the record, quite a lot of it is the stuff that came directly off our demo. … All of the things that we write, we have the whole structure made before we go into the studio.”
That structure varies, however, in their writing and demo process. I’m All Ears ranges from danceable four-minute tracks like the seductive earworm “It’s Not Just Me” and gender shake-up “Hot Pink” (both co-written with and produced by Faris Badwan of the Horrors and SOPHIE) to the pulsing 11-minute progression “Donnie Darko.” And the similarly long, guitar-laced “Cool & Collected” hews closer to prog-rock.
“Sometimes you start out with how a song is going to end up, and it ends up being the complete opposite,” Hollingworth says. “We do come up with ideas of where we want the song to end up but we don’t pin ourselves down to it. We do whatever feels right.”
That even entails “The Cat’s Pyjamas,” a one-minute track that captures a purring feline around an organ line. “We did that as a wee bit of a lark,” she says. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and that’s one of those kinds of songs. This whole record is kind of melodramatic. Everything’s so emotional. And then we have a random cat on it.”
On tour, the pair are joined by a drummer but otherwise handle all the instruments. In addition to their sample-fed keyboards, Walton plays guitar and glockenspiel while Hollingworth adds sax and recorder, a palette that echoes their nascent days.
“People were very quick to put us down as a novelty, especially as though they made up that people only liked us because we’re two young girls,” Hollingworth says. “Teenage boys get more of a chance to try things, whereas teenage girls don’t really get the chance because they immediately get shut down for being shit. Everyone starts out shit. That’s just life.” ◆
Let’s Eat Grandma plays the Sinclair on April 3.
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