What the !@#$% is a Grawlix?

SET FREE: Songs centred loosely around their relationship make up indie/folk band Grawlixes’ sound that blends sadness and self-deprecating honesty with wistful harmonies. Set Free is the name of their recently released album.
Picture supplied

!@#$%!

You’ve seen it splutter inside cartoon speech bubbles, but who knew the cussword-substitute had a name?

Musician couple — former couple — Penelope Esplin and Robin Cederman encountered it while watching internet personality Michael Stevens’ Vsauce clips on YouTube. They adopted the term as a name for their act and now the Grawlixes are about to perform in Gisborne.

“I worked in a bookstore when we were looking for a name and thought it had a nice literary connection,” says Esplin.

The atmospheric songs on the Grawlixes’ recently-released album Set Free are loosely centred on their relationship but are not necessarily true, says Cederman.

“They’re definitely informed by the relationship,” says Esplin.

She wrote the song Darling to seduce Robin.

“It worked, so we started dating.”

“I wrote Lover Boy in response to Darling,” says Cederman.

The song Moving In is 100 percent autobiographical.

But if some of the songs push the edge of the truth envelope, isn’t that a bit risky for the relationship?

“We broke up three hours after recording the album,” says Esplin.

“We were in three bands together and recording in a bedroom. It was taxing, being with each other all the time.

“We had more and more fights.”

But you’re all good now, right?

“No,” says Cederman.

“We have serious difficulties but we can turn it on in performance.

“We want this to work so we can survive with one another.”

The third member of the trio, violinist Alex Vaastra — whose strings bring a yearning, a presque vu wistfulness, to the Grawlixes’ sound — is a great mediator, they say.

Unfortunately he will not be able to join the former couple for their Gisborne gig, but with Cederman on acoustic guitar and Esplin on piano accordion, the indie-folk-pop sound that blends melancholy with sprightly melodies remains intact.

“We put so much effort into the album and musicality, we click really well musically,” says Cederman.

Both musicians toured Europe with French for Rabbits, whose dark, dreamy music features on American television series The Vampire Diaries, and while The Grawlixes shares the same stratosphere, their sound is more softly-spoken indie-folk, says Esplin.

As their promo material says, the Grawlixes are “intent on inserting themselves into your brain with their intelligent, infectious songs about relationships and not being invited to parties”.

“Grawlixes’s music often deals in the melancholy with self-deprecating honesty and beautiful boy-girl harmonies.”

!@#$%!

You’ve seen it splutter inside cartoon speech bubbles, but who knew the cussword-substitute had a name?

Musician couple — former couple — Penelope Esplin and Robin Cederman encountered it while watching internet personality Michael Stevens’ Vsauce clips on YouTube. They adopted the term as a name for their act and now the Grawlixes are about to perform in Gisborne.

“I worked in a bookstore when we were looking for a name and thought it had a nice literary connection,” says Esplin.

The atmospheric songs on the Grawlixes’ recently-released album Set Free are loosely centred on their relationship but are not necessarily true, says Cederman.

“They’re definitely informed by the relationship,” says Esplin.

She wrote the song Darling to seduce Robin.

“It worked, so we started dating.”

“I wrote Lover Boy in response to Darling,” says Cederman.

The song Moving In is 100 percent autobiographical.

But if some of the songs push the edge of the truth envelope, isn’t that a bit risky for the relationship?

“We broke up three hours after recording the album,” says Esplin.

“We were in three bands together and recording in a bedroom. It was taxing, being with each other all the time.

“We had more and more fights.”

But you’re all good now, right?

“No,” says Cederman.

“We have serious difficulties but we can turn it on in performance.

“We want this to work so we can survive with one another.”

The third member of the trio, violinist Alex Vaastra — whose strings bring a yearning, a presque vu wistfulness, to the Grawlixes’ sound — is a great mediator, they say.

Unfortunately he will not be able to join the former couple for their Gisborne gig, but with Cederman on acoustic guitar and Esplin on piano accordion, the indie-folk-pop sound that blends melancholy with sprightly melodies remains intact.

“We put so much effort into the album and musicality, we click really well musically,” says Cederman.

Both musicians toured Europe with French for Rabbits, whose dark, dreamy music features on American television series The Vampire Diaries, and while The Grawlixes shares the same stratosphere, their sound is more softly-spoken indie-folk, says Esplin.

As their promo material says, the Grawlixes are “intent on inserting themselves into your brain with their intelligent, infectious songs about relationships and not being invited to parties”.

“Grawlixes’s music often deals in the melancholy with self-deprecating honesty and beautiful boy-girl harmonies.”

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