Daughters of Davis, aka Adrienne and Fern, have been playing their acoustic soul music as they have toured Europe with the likes of Rebecca Fergusson and Sam Bailey. They’re two of the most down to earth grounded women you could hope to sit and share a pot of tea with. They finish each other’s sentences, laugh at each other’s jokes and spur each other on to ‘Not play by the rules’. Bekah caught up with them to find out what they’re all about.
F: “We’re sisters who have been singing together since we were knee high to a chicken; we’ve always loved music. Initially, we tried to do the academic route and take an ordinary job but in the end we just had so much of a passion for music that we had to pack that in.”
A: “So I quit my job in psychotherapy.”
B: “No way.”
A: “Yeah I was working in mental health in a hospital.”
F: “She quit her job, I painted some houses to get some money together. We had this dream of getting a camper van and taking to the road, but there were so many things in the way before that could happen. It took months really – we had to get a small PA system that we could travel with, we had to work out how to charge our phones in the van, for that matter we had to buy a van and we knew we would have to make money.
“There were so many obstacles. When we were dreaming about it, people weren’t really taking us seriously because obviously, it sounds just like a crazy idea. But, you know, one thing after another fell into place and we were like “right then!” We’d put ourselves into a corner – we’d sold everything and quit our jobs, so we had to go out and get ourselves gigging or we would be completely broke. “
B: “Did you have a home base still?”
F: “Well we had our mum and dad but that was it. We weren’t travelling home all the time.”
A: “No, it was too much petrol to keep driving back to the South of England. We were literally just on the road – and one thing led to the next. We didn’t think about it too much, but we were pretty broke. At one point, we had sold all the demo CDs that we had made before we had started, but we didn’t have any money left. We were literally busking for our dinner, playing as many gigs as we could. It was a tough time. Luckily that was when we met our management!”
B: How did that happen?
F: “I was breaking down really. We’d been touring for maybe a year and a half, we’d sold all our CDs, which were our bread and butter money, we weren’t making enough money to stay anywhere nice. We had nothing in our cupboards apart from ketchup and I was just crying – I wanted to go home, I didn’t want to do this anymore.”
A: “And I had to pull her up and say we’re going to this gig in Manchester. I just said, “Look let’s just play this gig.” We had this meeting because a friend had passed on our CD to this guy. But at the time we didn’t know whether to even trust that the meeting would happen. We’d been let down so many times, we weren’t sure this wasn’t just another cowboy. When we met him though, he seemed really genuine and we had a great time.”
F: “It picked us up. My facebook status at the time was ‘Skint and demoralised’. Honestly, when someone comes in when you’re at that point of giving up and gives you a booster – it’s amazing.
“Since then everything’s gone from strength to strength and the last two years have been a whirlwind. We’ve toured with Rebecca Ferguson all across Europe and a band called The Eels, and then more recently, Sam Bailey from the X-factor. So we’ve been doing these amazing tours that we never dreamed of – and we even got a new van!”
B: “I’ve seen your new van!”
A: “Yeah, that’s from Eldis. They gave us a sponsorship and then said we could keep it! It was an absolute miracle. When we were starting off in our rusty tin, we didn’t expect to get very far.”
B: “So, was your rusty tin a VW camper?”
F: “I wish! At least that would have been cool. But it was just minging; it looked like a builder’s van and was falling apart.”
B: “So where did you stay when you were on the road?”
F: “A lot of campsites. I think we single-handedly brought down the average age of caravanners, but they’re safe, they have a shower; they became our haven.
F: “It didn’t always feel very safe in our old van. Occasionally, we’d park in less safe places, and one time we got broken into whilst we were sleeping.”
A: “Yeah, we just got up and drove whilst they were trying to get in the door! We took our home away from the burglary!”
B: “So, that’s where you are now – what are you planning next?”
F: “Our passion is just the music and to keep touring, but, to be honest, we don’t have an end goal. That doesn’t mean that we’re goalless, our goal is to keep playing to as many people as possible because our messages are what we really care about.”
A: “Yeah, people describe our music as positive and uplifting and that’s the main thing. We want to bring some positivity into people’s lives, and we have some important messages alongside what we’re doing like “Not Playing The Game.””
F: “The response has been amazing. We launched “Not Playing The Game.” on the Sam Bailey tour.”
A: “And people just started clapping between the songs.”
F: “We were getting tweets from people who were excited about what we were saying. The crux of it is that it’s a rebellious musical move against the media’s constant demands on us in society.
“We just think it’s a crying shame that we only see one kind of beauty for women or one type of strength for men portrayed in the media when in society there are so many types of beauty and strength. We have this one image venerated but it doesn’t represent real society and it leaves people feeling unworthy and then they don’t follow and find their dreams. So we want people to know that if you don’t fit the mould, that’s fine.”
A: “We’re doing lots of challenges to break the mould– and then passing those challenges on!”
B: “I know. When I met you the other day you were make up less.”
A: “I have, to be honest, I wouldn’t normally want to open the front door without my makeup on. It’s not about whether someone else thinks I’m pretty, I’ve got so used to having it on! We’re going to do a gig at some point without makeup, I’m not looking forward to that.”
F: “But it’s hard, because as a person you always want to do the best by yourself. It’s not that we are anti makeup either. As a person, I love makeup. I love the 1940’s, I love the red lips, it’s my hat tip to ladies being ladies. I love that romantic thing, but when it defines you and becomes constrictive; when you can’t open the door because you’re ashamed of who you are, then something has gone wrong.”
B: “Oh I know all about that. I lost my front tooth which was horrendous and lived for six months without a front tooth.”
F: “Wow, did people treat you differently?”
B: “No, it was astonishing, my husband barely noticed at first and I was fortunate enough to work with youth workers who delighted in trying to make me say words beginning with ‘f’ because I couldn’t, and who came up with more pirate jokes than I knew existed but otherwise treated me just the same.”
F: “It’s crazy, we make a huge thing of it and then no one else even notices! I gave up makeup for lent and was worried I wouldn’t get gigs, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. We’re just saying are there some things that we do because we feel pressurised into it and feel unworthy without it and are they ruling our lives?”
A: “That’s why we called it “Not Playing The Game.” We live our lives by these unwritten rules without even realising it. It’s things like having to have expensive brands to look beautiful. We’ve been buying clothes from charity shops instead. So we’ve just set lots of challenges for people to try out to break free of the rules.”
B: “How can people get involved?”
F: “Just go to our website www.notplayingthegame.com . If we have a goal at the moment it’s to get people involved with that and to do it ourselves.
A: “Oh yeah, I filmed Fern the other day going to the corner shop in her baggies without getting all tidied up. I wasn’t ready to do it myself so I just filmed it!”
F: “But I totally failed when I was meant to be not untagging myself on Facebook. I was fine until a truly horrendous photo came and then I just couldn’t help myself.
“You know, everything we’ve done over the last few years has shown us that the rules aren’t real. Our story; setting off in a rusty old van with no real plan, we shouldn’t have succeeded. Many days, we only ate because God provided for us, it taught us to rely on Him and not on what society teaches is the way to do things. It’s brought real freedom and we want to share that with others.”
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