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Prince’s Protégés

Meet the girl band that learned everything they know from a living legend

They’re always on call, and the music never stops. When they’re not performing, their lives consist largely of twelve-hour jam sessions at Paisley Park, Prince’s mysterious Minnesota recording studio. They pretty much only stop to eat, sleep, and play Ping-Pong (Prince’s vice of choice). There’s no doubt they’re in the vortex of the Purple One—but when you get a call asking you to hand over the reigns of your life to Prince… well, there are whole blogs dedicated to that fantasy. Suffice to say, when the babes of 3rdEyeGirl got that call, they said yes.

3rdEyeGirl is Prince’s lady band. The Guardian has called them “the key to Prince’s current renaissance” and “one of the greatest funk-rock bands ever.” The band consists of Hannah Ford Welton, the bubbly (blonde) drummer from Chicago, Donna Grantis, the contemplative (brunette) rock guitarist from Toronto, and Ida Nielson, the lively (redhead) bohemian bassist from Denmark. Perhaps Prince had been on a Charlie’s Angels binge when he found himself browsing YouTube a few years ago, but whatever the case, the Internet offered up these three ladies, and the rest is history.

Now, the momentum of all the marathon recording and jam sessions is finally launching the ladies into the spotlight in a big way. 3rdEyeGirl’s debut album, PlectrumElectrum (written by and featuring Prince), just dropped alongside Prince’s latest solo album, Art Official Age. This makes today the perfect, most purple day to catch up with the 3rdEyeGirl about the new albums and what this whole crazy ride has been like.



Donna, on whether they ever imagined an album would come out of their rehearsal sessions:

I guess we knew that anything could be possible, and we always want to do our best, so when we were recording all of those reference tracks, we kept the mindset that we had to really nail the takes. And we just had no idea what would come of the recordings. Sometimes we would record something and the next day it would be posted online on the 3rdEyeGirl twitter account. A few months into it we started laying down vocals on those recordings, it seemed like there was some sort of project that was coming about. After about three or four months of doing that Prince sat us down and told us to find a handful of songs that go together and are cohesive in sound and would make a good album, and then he took them and put them in an order that was effective and exciting for the listeners. It seemed like anything could really have happened and we just had to be ready.



Hannah, on the difference between PlectrumElectrum and Art Official Age:

Definitely the albums are two different sounds completely, because in PlectrumElectrum we’re taking it back to the old school way of doing things. We recorded everything analog and live in the same room. Art Official Age is kind of catering more to radio friendly and mainstream music; it’s super urban but classic Prince all at the same time—and really funky. But I would say more digitally driven than live.

Ida, on staying on your toes when playing with Prince:

We had to learn everything. We had to learn all the new stuff, but also all of the old stuff, because when you play with Prince, he could decide he wants to play any song at any given time, and you just have to jump in. He likes to switch up the set list so we don’t play the same show every time. We really have to be quite on the spot.