let’s eat grandma on the highs and lows of growing up in a small town
Long hair, don't care! We catch up with the teen BFFs making music their own kind of way.
Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth are 17-year-old best friends from sunny Norwich; home of the brave, a remarkably low crime rate and Alan Partridge. Best buds since nursery school, they began writing what became their debut album, when they were just 13, and they've now released to it the wider world. I, Gemini is the very essence of experimental, with the girls jumping between instruments (quite literally on stage) turning their apparently short attention spans to the keyboard, uke, drums, tambourine, sweet harmonies, a rap verse here and there, and even a touch of well-placed jazz recorder - all in the space of one song. In figuring out the sounds for themselves, making things up as they go along, they have crafted a very fun, young, glitter-laden, outer-space wonderland full of dark nursery rhymes and reflections on their own lives.
Before taking the girls walking across the city on the hunt for vegan food which we eventually find in a garden shaded by overgrown fruit trees deep in Freetown Christiania, we sit in the elegant courtyard of the Kunsthal Charlottenborg. To the sounds of Off Seasons, a contemporary sonic representation of each of the four seasons commissioned by a selection of Nordic composers, we discuss music as theatre, start our own book club, and list the most horrific horror movies out there...
Hi Let's Eat Grandma! How old are you both these days?
Jenny: We're 17.
And how old do you feel?
Jenny: I feel like we've been aged by this music thing and too much Redbull.
Tonight you're playing CHART's opening concert alongside Peaches and Smerz. Are you looking forward to it?
Rosa: Yeah. We just need to wake up… I wonder if there's a weird Danish Redbull we can find?
Possibly. Does performing make you nervous?
Rosa: It's one of our favourite things to do. For me it's more nerves about whether our instruments all got to the venue in one piece and that the soundcheck will go smoothly. But once that's done, like it is now, I don't feel nervous. It feels under control.
Jenny: Yeah, it's more stress than nerves, because we have so many different instruments.
You guys seem to have shows popping up all over the world. Did you ever expect this?
Rosa: We didn't really expect anything.
And as things become a little more serious, does it get less fun?
Jenny: I think it can be more challenging, but it's still fun and just so rewarding.
You guys are from Norwich… what's the best thing about the city?
Jenny: The fact that our friends live there? There are a lot of green spaces, which is nice. And it's got one of the lowest crime rates in the world, which is always good.
So you can hang out in the green spaces and not worry too much about kidnappings. What's the worst thing about the city?
Rosa: It's a bit isolated and it's not really on the way to anywhere, it's just off to the side.
Jenny: I think the main associations are probably Stephen Fry, Alan Partridge and incest.
Wow, probably. Your live show is very theatrical, with the two of you dancing about and then falling to the floor.
Jenny: Yeah, I feel like we're different people on stage.
And who are your on-stage characters?
Jenny: I think it changes over time.
Rosa: That's what's so good about it.
Jenny: To us, our characters are quite ironic, but I don't think people recognise that. I think people are very desperate to put things in boxes.
Rosa: There are a lot of different things going on in our music and our performance but people would rather only see some of them, the things that they want to see and that make it easy for them to understand.
You seem to be very independent musically. I don't get the impression that there's anyone there trying to push you in a certain direction or tell you what to do… have you had people attempt to?
Jenny: No, but we have a lot of people who assume that there's some man behind us doing all the production and the work.
Rosa: There was an album review on 6 Music where there were a lot of good comments thrown around but then they ended by saying, 'but obviously it can't be them. There must be someone else behind it.'
Jenny: We never even considered that people might think something like that, but then when you put it out and people start talking about it, you start to notice so many subtle hints that suggest that they almost don't think we're capable...
Which is rude and unfortunately a on-going issue with women in music. Are there any female musicians in particular that you look up to?
Rosa: Grimes. I like that there as aspects of her that are really feminine but also aspects that aren't. She's not your typical pop star but also she's not trying really hard not to be different; you can tell that she's just being herself. Also she does everything herself and is a really great producer.
What's inspiring you at the moment, both musically and otherwise?
Rosa: Stranger Things.
So the next album is going to be full of synths and really 80s inspired?
Rosa: No, the next album is going to be inspired by bread people. We were doing our soundcheck earlier and this group of people with baguettes tied to their heads came out and we got told to stop because we were interrupting their performance.
Jenny: I think books will inspire it a lot.
Rosa: Frank Ocean's new album. He kind of messed everyone around for a long time but it was worth it.
It was. Jenny, what're you reading at the moment?
Jenny: Well, I've never read To Kill A Mocking Bird, so I've started that. It's really good.
Rosa: I'm reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. We sat in a park this morning and started reading but got distracted. There was a trampoline in the ground that we didn't realise was there until this old man with walking sticks came along and had a couple of jumps on it.
Brilliant. You've been friends forever. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Jenny: I wanted to be a writer, then a marine biologist, and then I wanted to score films, which is probably how I got to this point.
Rosa: I always quite fancied forensic science but I liked the idea of being an astronaut.
And if your music was to soundtrack a film, which do you think it would best fit with?
Jenny: Human Centipede?
Rosa: Finding Dory?
Or a truly horrific mash-up of the two. What would a Let's Eat Grandma sleepover consist of?
Jenny: Oooh, probably watching The Ring.
Rosa: And then re-enacting The Ring.
Jenny: And then watching Orphan, The Unborn, Halloween 1 and 2, The Conjuring.
What about movie snacks?
Rosa: Probably just a lot of peanut butter, straight out the jar.
And then on to the land of nod. Do you remember the last dream you had?
Jenny: I had a good one a while ago where I went on a cruise ship and as we were docking up to a tropical shore these massive raptors arrived and started breaking the boat apart. We tried to get out through the windows but they had already destroyed half the ship. There was no escape.
Text Frankie Dunn
Photography Eleanor Hardwick