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The Gravity Drive. Photograph by Graham Trott
Photograph by Graham Trott

Tuning into the spirit of place

Hard work, perseverance, luck and high standards: that’s what you need to make a mark on the music scene, says alt pop duo The Gravity Drive

‘It’s meant no holidays for God knows how long’

“I’ll come back from a gig at 2am and switch on the computer and work until 4am. There’s no knocking off at 5.30pm, no sense that we’ll slow down, because we can’t, we’re constantly creating,” says lead vocalist and songwriter Elijah Wolf.

He’s too modest to say so, but talent also plays an essential part. You don’t make it on to a Bob Harris session on BBC Radio 2 without impressing the bigwigs. In February, The Gravity Drive were invited to contribute a session for “Whispering” Bob Harris. They recorded three tracks from their debut album, Testament, and the result was broadcast on the Bob Harris show on 12 April.

“As an independent, we’re proud to get this far, and to be respected by a legend like that is amazing,” says Ava Wolf, the other half of The Gravity Drive duo.

Success hasn’t come quickly for the pair. It’s taken years of dedication to write and release an album, to build up a busy live schedule and gain radio airtime.

“It’s meant no holidays for God knows how long — all our money was put into recording, there were times when the rent looked in danger because the recording came first. Financially it was tough; personally it was also tough not seeing each other without work being involved,” says Elijah.

From the beginning, the couple have supported their own recording efforts. “When we started, I just didn’t know how we were going to do it. We had no label, no backing,” says Ava.

Then they discovered a secret weapon. Pete Scwhier, who lives at Hooke, has engineered, mixed or produced albums for some of the biggest names in the music industry. He started with Kim Wilde’s Kids in America, did two albums for The Jam, six albums for the Pet Shop Boys, two for Duran Duran, worked with Frankie Goes to Hollywood; the list goes on and on.

“He was a gift,” says Ava.

“I like to help people out if I can,” says Pete. “They asked me to help them, and the melodies are really good.

“If they keep plugging away, they could make it. The songs are good enough, as to how commercial they are; well that’s a different question! So much big commercial success depends on other factors.”

The Wolfs live a simple lifestyle with their daughter in a small, brick cottage near Netherbury. The house perches on a hillside and the garden tumbles down to a raggedy wood and stream. Elijah says that over the years, West Dorset has worked a subtle magic.

“There’s a sort of spirit in the people here as well as the landscape that is very inspiring. It’s changed me,” he says.

This pervasive spirit of place is one of the inspirations for the new album. Called The Wildlight, it should be ready for release in the autumn.

“The new stuff has more space than Testament. It feels like there’s something magical happening. We’re not pushing so much to achieve, we’re just allowing it to come through,” says Elijah.

Ava confesses: “When we first moved here we thought we’d stay a couple of years and move to London, and now we think ‘why would we ever leave?’

“We love living here and being independent; we’re privileged to be able to create what we want. It’s all been worth it.”

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