It’s been a hectic few weeks, and to be able to escape from the mayhem of busy times, listening to what transpired to be something quite magical, has been the perfect tonic for me. The Streets of Laredo’s 70’s folk rock sound, which is sprinkled with jingling and joyous harmonies and lyrics full of wistfulness and optimism, creates an atmosphere of coziness that made them immediately appealing to my ears.
Founded by close-knit family members Daniel, Dave and Sarah Jane Gibson, the Streets of Laredo have made a masterful dive into folk-country territory through a combination of eerie washed-out guitars, harmonica and sparse but thumping drums. Originally hailing from the Coromandel coastal area of New Zealand, they have transplanted themselves halfway round the world in Brooklyn, New York. One of the joys of the Streets of Laredo sound is their ability to layer vocals in a delicious way that are complex in nature, but come across with an affecting simplicity that contributes to their beautifully crafted sound.
Following the UK release of their debut album, they head across the seas in a couple of days on their first UK tour. I’m excited for the future of the Streets of Laredo and hope that their UK tour propels them towards garnering the acclaim that they deserve, along with winning some new fans on their travels.
David Gibson gives us an insight into the world of the Streets of Laredo:
What does it feel like to have the opportunity to cross the sea to perform in the UK for the first time? Is this something that you have been aspiring to do for some time?
The last time we were in this great nation we got stuck here sorting out our visas, which was a pretty stressful experience, it's nice to be back to play music and have visas.
In what ways is the music scene/industry different in the UK to America? Is it more difficult for emerging bands to have a platform to play in America?
I don't really know. It's about working hard and having some luck swing your way I suppose.
You currently live in New York, but come from New Zealand, what influences from your roots filter into your music?
It's appropriate you should mention roots as there's a really big roots & reggae scene in New Zealand - growing up in New Zealand we're surrounded by Maori & Pacific Islanders and their music is a big part of our culture and what we listen too growing up - a lot of acoustic guitar and heaps of harmonies. I think this definitely comes through in our tunes even though our genre is completely different.
Where did your love of music begin and how did the Streets of Laredo story start? Has your development as musicians been easier/more organic because you are family?
I think my love for music started pretty early on, My mum was in loads of singing groups so she was constantly putting on her singing tapes in the car on big drives and teaching us how to harmonise, playing her guitar round the house, dancing, she is a very expressive lady to say the least. I didn't know it at the time but this was where it all started for me coupled with a handful of records and cassette tapes laying round the house.
The band was first conceived in New Zealand about 4 years ago. I was actually about to give up music and take a normal 9-5 job but my older brother Dave talked me out of it and convinced me to record these ideas we both had. He was working at a t-shirt company at the time and gave me a job; it was pretty cool because we just listened to music all day which rekindled the fire so to speak. A couple of months later we made a 5-track demo and showed them to a few of our closest buddies and the response was positive. We pulled in Sarah Jane (Daves wife) played one proper show at a bar called the Whiskey in Auckland, then (insanely) jumped on a plane and moved to NYC. We’ve been here ever since and have collected members along the way - now we’re a 7 piece.
In terms of being a family - yeah it helps a lot. We're super close and definitely have a language and an ease with each other when writing and playing music. Basically we just know each other very well and song writing is quite an intimate thing - it helps to already have that closeness.
You have a lovely blend of different instrumental flavours in your music, amid beautiful harmonies...how do you go about crafting your sound? What comes first, lyrics or the music, or is quite an organic process?
Thank you. It is not always the same and Sarah, Dan and I all have slightly different styles, but generally for me it's the music first, then a melody then lyrics. Dan tends to have it all come at once & Sarah is a lyrics first kind of girl.”
Do you have any dream collaborations?
I think it would be pretty fun to collaborate with Sigur Ros especially if said collaboration went down in Iceland. I'm dying to get to Iceland.
If you could play anywhere in the UK, where would this be?
“Bristol. I have heard many good things about Bristol.”
If you were to compile a music playlist to listen to whilst on tour, who would feature on it?
A typical Streets of Laredo playlist would feature Delta Spirit, War on Drugs, St Vincent, Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, Father John Misty, Sharon Van Etten, Kishi Bashi, The Byrds, Unknown Mortal Orchrestra & The New Pornographers to name a few.
The Streets of Laredo have released their new album ‘Volume I & II’ via Dine Alone Records.