JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Von Grey, it sounds like a German alternative rock group but it’s simply the surname of four extremely talented sisters, Kathryn, Annika, Fiona and Petra, ages 13 to 18 from Johns Creek.
Of course if you follow indie music, you already know this talented quartet is one of the fast-rising vocal acts nationally in the genre and has appeared on David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and other late-night shows.
The sister-group has opened for such established stars as the Indigo Girls and Sarah McLachlan. The girls will be the headliners for entertainment at the Johns Creek Arts Festival, closing the Saturday night concert Oct.20.
Their parents, Jill and Mike, who homeschool their daughters, exposed them to music at an early age as part of their education and placed them in classical music training when they each reached the age of 5. So they have been making music almost all of their lives.
About five years ago, they decided to branch out and begin making their own music, which second-eldest Annika describes as indie-folk music.
“It’s hard to pigeonhole what we do. That’s because we do use a lot of acoustic instrumentation because that is out of our foundation of where we first learned to play music. But we incorporate synthesizers and electronic influences as well, so it’s a little bit alternative, too,” Annika said in an interview in Johns Creek.
Annika and Fiona are the songwriters but they all play a range of instruments. Annika plays violin, banjo and guitar. Fiona plays guitar and violin. Kathryn is on cello and mandolin with Petra on keyboards and lap steel guitar.
Their music is characterized by lush harmonies with surprisingly thoughtful lyrics given their young ages.
They began touring regionally, slowly building a fan base with the help of YouTube, Facebook and other social media. Then about two years ago, von Grey began getting national gigs and making an album of their own songs.
Mom does most of the driving in their Honda Pilot, with Kathryn and Fiona helping out.
“I’ve been a little bit tardy in the getting of my license,” Annika admitted. “Mom kind of keeps us in line – she’s kind of the taskmaster on the road. We are taking courses online so we keep up with that as well.”
And these days, the girls tour “quite a bit,” she said.
“We’ve been touring outside Atlanta for about two years since we started touring nationally. We’ve been doing that pretty vigorously since we released some music last year in October,” Annika said.
The sisters will be releasing a new song in a few weeks and more songs in January 2014. That will put them back on the road again.
“We love that part [touring]. It’s kind of our favorite thing to do,” she said.
They will stay on the road from two weeks to six weeks at a time before heading back. It varies, she said.
“We haven’t done the whole six months in a row kind of tour because even though we are homeschooled, we have to come back because we have testing dates sometimes,” Annika said. “We haven’t quite outgrown those responsibilities quite yet.”
Being on the road in close quarters can be taxing, as it would be for any family, but she said the sisters get along mainly well.
“It can be a little bit of a problem. I think it is important to establish boundaries,” she said. “Even when we are home, we spend time practicing, but then we are done ‘doing band things’ we have kind of a different family dynamic.