Piney Gir hails from the American Midwest, home of wide-open plains with sunflowers that go on as far as the Earth curves. The ‘you’re not in Kansas anymore’ jokes never wear thin, because Piney embraces her heritage bringing it with her to the UK, where she’s lived in London for over a decade now (yes she does have a sparkly red shoe collection and yes she wears a lot of gingham).
Piney was raised to fear God, like a lot of kids in the Bible-belt she wasn’t taught about Darwin in schools, she memorised Bible verses and chapters every week… It was this religious upbringing that spurred her into rock ‘n’ roll. ‘All we like sheep have gone astray…’ Isaiah 53:6.
All teenagers rebel, but Piney had a lot to rebel against and so she went through a series of extremes on an epic journey to figure out what’s what and who the heck she actually is. She was a bit of a Laura Palmer, with a mysterious double life burbling underneath her wholesome persona. After lots of phases, from pop to goth, hippy, rocker, hip-hopper, metaller, psychedelic traveller, straight-edger, grunger, raver, country rocker, folky lady, funkadelic, electro-girl, jazz lover, mod, rockabilly quiff-wearer… she finally settled on ‘everything’ as a genre for herself. Because the conclusion that Piney came to was that she didn’t need to be categorised and that maybe not being categorised could be her niche.
‘If you appreciate many types of music, why only limit yourself to one thing all the time? So much inspires me!’ she says. But there is a Piney Sound: it’s perfectly-formed indie-pop with tuneful riffs and Piney’s lovely voice unifying it all. With that lyrical rhyme/reason that you can’t quite put your finger on; it’s pleasing, charming and poetic. Piney Gir thanks the church for her early music education – she went to one of those Pentecostal churches with speaking in tongues and fainting – music was a big part of the Sunday ritual and there was a lot of drama in the sermons. She also thanks her glamorous Aunt Mary for the piano lessons without whom she would have never learned her scales… she then took up the drums and studied them for 10 years going to University to major in music. Her drums were nicked from her ghetto apartment, and so she changed her major to voice (which nobody can steal).
Never really having the voice for Verdi, she moved to London after uni to see what she could see. It never occurred to her that she might sing in a band and write songs, but she knew she liked singing and writing songs (she was 9 when she wrote her first song). When she moved to London she worked in a cocktail bar and took some classes at St Martins mainly to meet people and find new ways of expressing herself – and it was then she joined a synth pop duo called Vic Twenty. Vic Twenty released a single on a Mute label and toured UK and Europe with synth-pop legendary duo Erasure. Vic Twenty split up and thus Piney Gir the solo artist was born.
She even did her first tour of America, having played CMJ Festival and South By Southwest. She did two national radio sessions for NPR, including a gig at the esteemed Mountain Stage, which was a real milestone for her. ‘It’s nice to feel welcomed by your homeland,’ says Piney. She will be playing a few select UK festivals and touring her latest album, Mr Hyde’s Wild Ride, in 2015.