Meet the Witchy Teen Duo Making Pop Weird Again
Though Let’s Eat Grandma sounds like the name of a hardcore metal band, it’s actually two 17-year-old girls from a small city in England making offbeat indie pop. I could tell you about Rosa and Jenny’s lyrics (clever and magical), or their voices (the definition of bewitching), or their hair (waist length and straight out of a fairytale). But they tell their story so much better.
The girls Skyped me from Jenny’s house, where they were snacking on peanuts and cracking jokes—something they didn’t stop doing the whole time we talked. When I asked how old they were, they broke into song. “Seventeen…Dancing Queen,” complete with jazz hands. And that was the first of three times they broke into song during our 20-minute chat. Here's what they had to say—when they weren't singing.
A lot of people think you’re twins, which you’re not, but you are obviously best friends. How did you meet?
Rosa: We’re family friends. Our grandmas were opera singers, and they were friends, so that comes into the name.
When I listen to the record, I picture you guys recording it during the middle of a slumber party with an abundance of snack foods and scary movies playing in the background. I’m guessing it was a little more official than that?
Rosa: We recorded the album in this bunker, where we had an out of body experience. Jenny and our producer went outside to get some food from the shop. I felt something cold rush through me.
Jenny: I'd thought I saw a ghost of a young girl earlier. We were playing hide and seek. It was kind of a shadow, so I don’t know if it was a ghost.
Rosa: It was an incredibly creepy place, which was good inspiration for the dark side.
Jenny: The thing is, I didn’t believe in ghosts before, but then I saw that. Even though I’m not completely sure, I think I do [believe]. It’s enough that I’ll check under my bed at night.
Are you in high school right now? What do your classmates think of Let’s Eat Grandma?
Rosa: We’re at music college, which is the equivalent of high school.
Jenny: They’re actually quite nice about it, aren’t they?
Rosa: We didn’t tell them for ages. We wanted to keep it a secret for as long as we could, but when they found out, we got a good response. They’re all in bands too, because it’s a music college.
Dazed called you “the teenage witch duo,” The Guardian called you “the freaky teenagers reinventing pop,” and that’s just the beginning in a long list of witchy adjectives writers have used to described. How do you feel about it?
Jenny: We are pretty creepy. Rosa cackles. She talks in her sleep.
Rosa: I actually had a witch cackle the other night. Like this. [Cackles]
Jenny: Rosa’s ultra creepy.
Rosa: I’m a creepy crawly.
Jenny’s mom, poking her head onto the computer screen: I’m a Christian, so I don’t really like the fact that they say they’re witches. I think it’s tongue-in-cheek.
Jenny: It’s not like a choice; you can’t help being a witch.
You’re so thoroughly yourselves, which is pretty inspiring to other women. Who’s your typical fan? Young, cool, hair as perfect as yours?
Rosa: 50 years, a man, and slightly dodgy. That’s what we call creepy.
Jenny: No, we’re going to lose our fan base! Don’t put them off. Boys our age like to tag each other in our posts. And be like Rosa, hashtag, that one’s mine.
They must be intimidated by you!
Jenny: Yeah, I think so.
Because you’re witches…
Jenny: Exactly! It all adds up.
What do you hope girls take away from your record?
Jenny: I hope somebody can relate to it in a way. Not so much like, “Oh, my god, I can totally relate to eating sludgy cake." Or like “I can so relate to, like, I really want to eat shiitake mushrooms too.” More just relate to the fact that you don’t want to be an indie rock band when you’re making music—in the local area, that’s all there is. You don’t have to just do what everyone else is doing.
Your record deal, and lots of general critical acclaim, is a real testament to the fact that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, compared to someone like, say—not to throw anyone under the bus—One Direction.
[They start singing an impromptu “What Makes You Beautiful”/"Drag Me Down" mashup]
What do your grandmas think of all this?
Rosa: They’re very glad we’re doing music, because they’re opera singers. They’re more into classical stuff.
Jenny. They like the beginning of "Rapunzel," because of the classical-influenced piano. [Starts singing opera]
Do they think it’s weird that you’re singing about mushrooms?
Rosa: Actually, the mushroom that everybody thinks is a shiitake mushroom is a fly agaric mushroom, which is toxic and hallucinogenic. The red top with the white spots. Shiitake mushrooms are not red, they are brown. But they are tasty.
Listen to the girls sing about shiitake mushrooms and so much more on their debut album I, Gemini. Buy it here and stream it here.