Towse is an upcoming folk group hailing from the vibrant state of California. They infuse delightful melodies with theatrical energy, creating a captivating and unique sound.
The group comprises three talented individuals: Grace Fellows, pianist and vocalist; Corwin Zekley, fiddler and vocalist; and Mark Gunner, bassist, and vocalist. Towse has graced stages globally, with performances at renowned venues such as The Troubadour in Los Angeles and Old Blue Last in London.
They recently had the privilege of playing alongside the widely acclaimed English artist Jon Gumm, a testament to their rising prominence. Towse has made their grand entrance onto the music scene with the release of their debut single, “We’d Start a Garden.”
“We’d Start a Garden” is a composition that delves into the heart-wrenching experience of losing someone you love. The opening lines, “Take me away from here, I’m getting tired. Missing your fire, and your fears”, align with the sentiment of yearning for the presence of a cherished companion and capture the bittersweet reminiscence of a past relationship.
In the chorus, Grace echoes, "And you told me we'd start a garden," reflecting a couple's shared dreams and aspirations before their separation. These words emphasize the stages often encountered during a breakup: initial longing, subsequent sadness, reminiscence, and eventual anger and resentment.
Towse approaches this difficult theme by presenting it in a manner that creates a more palatable and relatable listening experience. They create a tranquil and euphoric soundscape by combining Grace’s delicate piano melodies, Mark’s laid-back, soulful bassline, and Corwin’s harmonious fiddling. Towse effectively conveys that while hardships are inevitable in the human experience, a brighter tomorrow is always on the horizon.
“We’d Start a Garden” is available now on all platforms.
Welcome to BuzzMusic Towese. Could you share how you created your group’s moniker, “Towse?"
Yeah, it came from wanting to have a sort of umbrella that everyone I was collaborating with could come under. I was previously performing under my name, Grace Fellows. Still, about 5 years ago, I was playing with a lovely group of people whose contributions I felt needed to be acknowledged. That's when I searched for a name that would work for me as a solo singer-songwriter when necessary but could also stretch to include the incredible people I work with. The other issue with using my name is if you search it, you'll get a lot of "Grace Fellowship Church," which means our music was often buried on social and streaming platforms. The name Towse is a Scottish-origin surname. I picked it mostly for its use and its sound, but any associated meaning, like that it would have originally been the name of a wool craftsperson or that it's an alternate spelling of "touse" as in "tousled," aligned with my folky roots and the mood I wanted to create with this project.
Tell us about the creative process behind your latest single, "We'd Start a Garden."
We'd Start a Garden was written in January 2021 as part of the song A Day for a Month challenge (which I highly recommend to any songwriter! Check out their website, it's an amazing community). After some editing, I brought the song to the new iteration of the band I formed in October of that year. Dan Payne and Mark Gunner, the drummer and bassist on the track, were also studying for a master's degree at BIMM London. We had weekly rehearsals where we worked on arranging this one and other songs.
Then, in May 2022, we took them to the school's recording studio to track the bass, drums (and a scratch keyboard part). The track was recorded without a click track since there are tempo fluctuations, which makes it a bit difficult to work on (sorry to everyone I work with). Still, after I was happy with my comp of those parts, I recorded my 6-foot grand piano on it back home in California while visiting for my brother's wedding that summer. During that trip, I started working on the violin parts with my partner, Corwin Zekley, and tracking some of the vocals. After many months of mixing, listening back, nudging things, asking for feedback, and rerecording, I sent the track to my friend and mentor, John Baffa, a Grammy-winning sound engineer. He said he felt the mix was very close to finished, offered me some notes, and agreed to master it. Beyond that, there was all the shooting for the music video and cover art, so it's been a long build-up, and I'm so overjoyed that it's finally out there!
What has been your biggest source of inspiration when developing your musical style?
Some artists I've been influenced by in recent years are Joanna Newsom, Dodie, Phoebe Bridgers, and Fiona Apple. Joanna Newsom largely just for her unapologetic uniqueness and incredible musicianship, Dodie for the tender honesty of her lyrics, Phoebe Bridgers for the insane mood and sonic choices, and Fiona Apple (particularly Fetch the Bolt Cutter) for the production choices. In the past, I listened to many great indie artists like Beirut or Iron & Wine and anyone from Paramore to Lily Allen to The Beatles. I grew up playing classical music and got into experimental classical music (aka "New Music") and world music during my undergrad at CalArts. As a child, I heard a lot of John Prine because my dad liked to play country and folk songs on his guitar. I've also spent many years playing traditional fiddle tunes, and that music and the culture of it have inspired me. I think for me; musical influence has always been a very interpersonal thing. It comes from recommendations, watching friends perform, and the music my community brings forward.
Are you currently working on any new projects we can look forward to?
Well, of course, I have a few things in the vault, as I hinted at while talking about the recording of We'd Start a Garden, but the next exciting thing is the music video, which will be out on June 9th! Going on dates with plants, that's all I'm gonna say. After that, we're spending the summer touring the West Coast of the US, which I am so stoked for! Look out for us if you're in California, Oregon, or Washington. Of course, you can also expect lots from us in terms of connecting on social media. I love to live stream on TikTok, share tutorials on YouTube, and update fans on my daily shenanigans on Instagram. We also have a Patreon with fun rewards like chord charts, lessons, and commissions.
If you could perform at any venue worldwide, which one would it be and why?
Some of my favorite performances have been at house shows, and I love that intimate, listening room feeling. For that reason, I'd love to perform with Sofar Sounds; they do a good job of curating that environment. I also really enjoyed seeing Dodie at the Eventim Apollo in London. Even though it's a 5,000-cap venue, her stage presence made it feel like we were all having a little chat. I'd love to share my stories with people like that someday. I also adore a festival environment and look forward to playing more festivals, big and small, in the future.