Daughter at SXSW in 2012
Daughter are an indie folk band from England. Fronted by North London native Elena Tonra (born 15 January 1990), they were formed in 2010 after the addition of Swiss-born guitarist Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella from France. They have released four EPs and three albums, and are currently signed to Glassnote (North America) and 4AD (Europe). After playing the local London circuit, they toured supporting Ben Howard around Europe and have since played headlining tours around North America, Europe and Australia.
Of Irish–Italian parentage, Elena Tonra was raised in Northwood, London, with her older brother, Kieran. Through her Dublin-born grandfather she experienced traditional Irish music from an early age. Her interest in music began when she received a copy of the album Grace by Jeff Buckley. After being bullied at school she used writing to "deal emotionally with life". Changing schools at the age of 12 had a great impact and since then Tonra writes "about things I feel difficult talking about in adulthood”.
Tonra began her career in music by performing acoustic shows under her own name around London. She found that this "didn't suit me at all. As a musician, I'm self-taught and felt I was restricted by my abilities". Haefeli attended one of the acoustic shows that Tonra was performing and found that "she had this power which drew everyone in". Originally from Neuchatel, Haefeli also attended London's Institute of Contemporary Music Performance where he met Tonra during a songwriting course. They began performing together with Haefeli adding electric guitars. After their first demo started word of mouth on the band, Daughter self-released their debut EP, His Young Heart, on 20 April 2011, recorded in Haefeli's bedsit. Later that same year, they released another EP, The Wild Youth, on 2 October through artist-led Communion Records. The latter EP earned praise from British website For Folk's Sake who described Daughter as "one of the unique sounds in the pop landscape today." BBC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens also invited them to perform a Maida Vale Session for his show.
Tonra and Haefeli became romantically involved and the guitarist insisted that they "keep our couple life and our band life separate, [because] I don’t want Elena to stop saying things in her songs that are personal [as] songwriters need to be expansive and they need to be unafraid”. While Tonra concurred with "Igor doesn’t question my lyrics. He regards what we do as an art form. He certainly doesn’t try to rewrite my words. I never tell anyone what my songs are about, not even him. I feel they are direct enough, anyway. They aren’t especially obscure".
In 2012, shortly after headlining a 700-capacity show in London, Daughter announced their signing to UK label 4AD. Speaking of this, Elena commented "we couldn't be happier to be working with 4AD, a label that has released so many inspirational records and whose ethos we hold in very high regard. It really is a privilege." Their first single proper, "Smother", was released in October of that year. It was playlisted by both BBC Radio 1 and 6Music, while being awarded Single of the Week by long-time supporter Huw Stephens. In December 2012 the band appeared on the David Letterman Show prior to the release of the record, which Tonra described as "perhaps (...) a cart-before-the-horse situation".
If You Leave
The band released their debut album, If You Leave, in March 2013 (May in Norway). Charting at Number 16 in the UK, it was also received favourably in the press; "An album as beautifully conceived as If You Leave is one you follow from start to finish, riveted by the story it weaves and the emotion it bleeds. And in these digital days that feels like a remarkable achievement" Drowned in Sound said in their 9/10 review, while The Fly in a 4/5 album review said that it's "word-in-the-ear intimate and mountain-range massive". Daughter also won Independent Album of the Year for If You Leave at the 2013 AIM Independent Music Awards in London. The band began a lengthy tour in support of the album and recruited Luke Saunders as an additional live-member to ensure the material could be reproduced. As Haefeli explained: "He plays everything we can’t play, which is keyboards, bass and some more guitar. We were really happy with the result. It took quite a while and a lot of rehearsing, but we are really happy with how the songs sound live". The band also use a number of vocal and guitar effects to achieve this sound live.
During the first two months of 2014, the band travelled to the Far East and Australasia for a number of headlining shows and as part of the St Jerome's Laneway Festival. In April, Daughter supported The National on six North American tour dates, while they also announced the release of a 4AD Sessions EP, a collaboration with composer Joe Duddell. It consists of five tracks performed live at Portmeirion with an eight-piece ensemble that was also filmed.
Not to Disappear
In September 2014 the band indicated that they had started working on a follow-up at their own studio in London. Haefeli explained: "We've played so many shows that the first album became rockier on stage and we're playing with that dynamic". On 6 April 2015 Daughter announced they would be supporting Ben Howard on a short string of tour dates in the United States.
On 30 September 2015 the band announced that they would release the 10-track album Not to Disappear in 2016, while the first single "Doing the Right Thing" was made available as a music video. Not to Disappear was released by 4AD on 15 January 2016, preceded by the music video for second single "Numbers" in November 2015. On 28 July 2016 a music video for "No Care" was released.
Music from Before the Storm and Ex:Re
On 1 September 2017, Daughter released their third album, titled Music From Before the Storm. The 13-track LP, mostly instrumental, was written as the soundtrack of 2017 video game Life Is Strange: Before the Storm.
In November 2018, Elena Tonra announced Ex:Re, her upcoming solo debut album. It was released on 30 November 2018 via 4AD, with its first single "Romance" released on 26 November 2018.
In popular culture
- The band's song "Youth" was played in an advertisement for the Tour de France on ITV4, as well as in a commercial by Norwegian airline company Widerøe. It was also featured in various films and TV shows, including Lovesick, A Long Way Down, Grey's Anatomy, Cold Feet, Our Girl, Forever, Skins, Arrow, The Gifted, Cuffs and After Life.
- The song "Touch" was used in Season 3, Episode 6 of the American fantasy drama series Teen Wolf.
- The song "Home" was used in Season 9, Episode 4 of the American medical drama series Grey's Anatomy, and a remix of "Home" by Jon Hopkins was featured on the soundtrack to the British film How I Live Now, which was released on CD in October 2013.
- The song "Medicine" was used for a BBC One promotional video titled "Original British Drama: Autumn 2013", first aired in October 2013. Additionally, it was used in Season 3, Episode 20 of the American drama series Person of Interest.
- The songs "Smother" and "Medicine" were used in Season 8, Episode 11 and Season 3, Episode 20 of the American fantasy drama series The Vampire Diaries.
- The songs "Numbers", "Departure" and "Dreams of William" were used in the reveal trailer for Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. The latter two tracks were later included on the soundtrack, Music from Before the Storm.
- The song "The End" was used in the closing sequence of the first episode of Netflix's Altered Carbon.
|Title||Details||Peak chart positions|
|If You Leave||16||50||42||21||109||88||44||—||65||97|
|Not to Disappear||
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Music from Before the Storm||
|His Young Heart||
|The Wild Youth|
|"Smother"||2012||If You Leave|
|"Youth"||If You Leave and The Wild Youth|
|"Doing the Right Thing"||2015||Not to Disappear|
|"Burn It Down"||2017||Music from Before the Storm|
- Elena Tonra – vocals, guitar, bass, piano
- Igor Haefeli – guitar, bass, keyboards, programming
- Remi Aguilella – drums, percussion, sampling pad
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