EDINBURGH in December and in a suite in the Principal Hotel in George Street two women, one wearing socks, one bare-footed and holding a guitar, are standing on the bed and getting ready to jump.

“This is like the Beatles,” the dark-haired one says before starting a countdown. “One, two, three ...”

And suddenly both of them are in mid-air, on the rise.

Is that a workable visual metaphor for where the pair of them are right now? Well, I guess we’ll know this time next year. But let’s just say they’re doing their best to reach escape velocity.

But where are my manners? Let me make some introductions. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Eves, a Scottish musical duo who are hoping 2019 is going to be their year. They are currently working on an album to follow up their more recent single Christmas in Summertime which came out last month.

To their friends and family, they are Marissa Keltie and Caroline Gilmour. One earns a living playing in bands and one works in finance. Actually, why don’t we let them do the necessary. Caroline, tell us about Marissa?

“This is Marissa Keltie, singer, songwriter, session singer, voiceover artist and model. She’s been gigging around for Scotland for well over 10 years now in various guises.”

“And this,” Keltie adds, “is Caroline Gimour. I’ll not say your age because, as they say, ‘a lady never tells.’ You’ve been working as a musician for 15 odd years as well as a full-time job in finance, so juggling the day job and the music, song writing and everything.

“You had a number one vinyl single in 2016, didn’t you?” Keltie adds, turning to her musical partner for confirmation.

“I did.”

“With Electric Waterfalls,” Keltie remembers. “Straight to number one. You’ve also done an album and a couple of Eps. Anything you’d like to add?”

“I’ve opened for Charlotte Church, Horse, Sam Brookes, Paper Aeroplanes.”

That was then. But now they are working together. In harmony.

And harmony is the reason, Keltie argues, they got together in the first place. “I love acts that have two or three voices. First Aid Kit, The Pierces, The Staves. For me there is just something about harmony that really speaks to me and I’ve always felt like that.

“It’s quite difficult if you are a solo artist. So, I was really looking for someone who was a song-writing partner, someone who could perform alongside me, just someone to collaborate and harmonise with.”

Gilmour took a little persuading, it should be said. “I had no aspirations to form a duo at all,” she admits. Plus, she adds, “I’m quite a control freak.” Sitting beside her Keltie smiles and nods.

But the couple eventually agreed to meet and when they did they got on like a forest fire. “Lots of laughs, lots of banter,” says Gilmour. “I think after the first meeting we came up with ten songs in the first month.”

Mostly over messaging service WhatsApp, she adds.

“We were keen to keep our own identity,” Keltie points out, “but we thought we’d try it and see how it would go. And at the moment it’s taken precedence over other things because it’s really working.”

Or it is when they’re not working of course. “The challenge I’m facing,” Gilmour admits, “is working a full-time job Monday to Friday, nine to five. And then Marissa gigs at the weekend, so we only really have a Sunday or an odd evening to try to do it. It’s really hard-going. I need to pay the mortgage.”

Well, yes. The simple fact is that The Eves are a mainstream act that, as yet, are still on the margins. Anyone who listens to Christmas in Summertime will hear a polished, self-confident, atmospheric Radio 2-friendly ballad that deserves a big audience.

And that’s the audience the duo now has to find. Maybe not so easy in an era when big label support is mostly a thing of the past unless you are already established.

How do you get around that? You work social media and you play gigs wherever you can. Bars, live venues, even people’s houses.

“We do lots of house concerts,” Gilmour explains. "We did a couple in Denmark there in October. That went down pretty well, and they seem to build up a fan base organically. It’s friends of friends and you invite them around the house, they like what you do, they start to follow you, and then they want a house concert. And it just builds up like that.”

The pair have even done house concerts in America and Australia. “In Australia we were playing a house concert in the outback for friends of ours and the sun was setting, and we were out in the marquee bit and there were kangaroos hopping by,” Gilmour laughs.

All of this is a start, but now they need radio play, licensing deals, to meet the people who can make them make the next step. “It’s about finding the right person who has the right contacts and believes in the product enough,” Keltie admits.

Are they always in harmony, I wonder. What’s the music you like, I ask, that the other one doesn’t?

“You like the eighties,” Keltie says to Gilmour, “and I’m not a massive fan.”

“Who doesn’t love the eighties?” asks Gilmour, which seems a reasonable question. Keltie for one it seems.

Keltie: “You like Marc Almond’s version of Tainted Love, don’t you? And I just can’t stand it. I can’t stand his voice. I feel like he sings under the note all the time.”

Gilmour: “And you don’t like the electronic dance music that I like. Trancey stuff"

Keltie: “I’m more of an old soul. I like Carol King and James Taylor and Paul McCartney and all the old artists. Just natural talent.”

Marissa Keltie’s old soul was nurtured in Coatbridge. Her grandfather played in the Jimmy Shand Band. Her dad tried to get her brothers to take music lessons but, in the end, Keltie was the only one who was interested. She took piano lessons at the age of 10 and at high school she started playing the flute.

“Three or four years later I took a craving for the saxophone, probably inspired by The Simpsons.”

It led her to a degree as a classical saxophonist, she says. Which is a thing, apparently.

“It served no purpose whatsoever,” she says laughing.

“It beats a degree in accountancy, Gilmour suggests.

“Do you know, I haven’t played it since probably my final recital at uni,” Keltie admits.

Keltie started writing songs in her early twenties but didn’t take it seriously until she was 26, 27, she says. Yet before she graduated someone decided she could sing and invited her to join a functions band. And then someone else asked her to join an acoustic band. “Before I knew it, I was doing five gigs a week as a singer having never trained as a singer. I started earning a living.”

She’s even played in wedding bands. They can be huge fun, Keltie says.

No doubt. But, Marissa, what’s the worst thing you’ve seen at a wedding? “You get to see a lot of men’s bits at Scottish weddings. Kilts, people falling over … Some of the worst weddings are maybe where fights break out. There was one where the father of the bride got thrown out of her wedding.”

Gilmour, the older of the duo, comes from Newtongrange. Her dad was a miner and she’s old enough to remember the miner’s strike. She was just a kid when it was going on. “I experienced it first-hand, having no money for food, wearing your cousin’s clothes. It was pretty hard-going.

“So, music was a big part of most people’s lives to help get through the pain of what was going on. Eighties music was somewhere you could escape to.”

She was, she says, a shy kid. Academic. But at high school she joined the school band and the school’s “band geeks” became her tribe, she says. She learned saxophone too. Then taught herself the guitar in her bedroom while listening to Nirvana, Alanis Morrissette and Sheryl Crow.

But it took a drunken holiday and a karaoke bar for her to get up on stage and sing for the first time. “I’m pretty sure it was Benidorm. I was 17 or 18, I’d had a few, and I thought: ‘Ill get up and sing Madonna or Belinda Carlisle.’

“A few people said afterwards: ‘You’ve got a good voice.’ And from then on I started to develop a little bit more confidence and in my early twenties I joined a covers band and we were playing the Grassmarket every weekend.”

She struck out on her own, singing original songs in 2008, “doing my singer-songwriter thing around bars in Morningside.”

It hasn’t always been easy, she admits. “There have been moments where I’ve thought: ‘Why am I doing this?’ When you’re playing to two or three people in a bar on a Wednesday night and no one’s there, there are moments where you think: ‘Why am I doing this?’

“But I’m doing this because I like to create. I’m an artistic person. I love painting. I love photography and I love music. It’s in me and I don’t think I could ever leave it behind.”

At the same time, she has maintained a career in finance working as an accountant and more recently as a project manager. It’s a working-class thing, she says. It’s how she has been brought up, how both of them have been brought up.

But now maybe there is room for a little dreaming.

“The dream for me is to become a songwriter,” says Gilmour. “I would work in the studio all day long if I could but that doesn’t pay the bills. So, what I’m doing is the sensible thing, which is what I’ve always been brought up to do.

“But eventually I would like to close the door on that and say: ‘No, this is where my career now.”

“Time to be a rock star,” Keltie says.

Caroline Gilmour smiles and picks up her guitar. “It would be nice.”

For more information visit the band’s website: theeves.co.uk/ Thanks to the Principal Edinburgh George Street for its help.


1 Zoe Graham

1 Ridiculously young Weegie singer-songwriter Zoe Graham has been a regular on the city’s live circuit in recent years. Last year’s Hacket & Knackered EP gave a taster of her talents, most notably on the gorgeous heartbreaker The Anniesland Lights. She plays King Tut’s on January 24 as part of Celtic Connections.

2 Walt Disco

Indie fans of a certain age this way. Walt Disco, based in Glasgow, might be the nearest thing we have to a 21st-century Orange Juice. They play King Tut’s on January 19, supported by Weegie hopefuls Crystal.

3 Andrew Wasylyk

Fans of Nils Frahm and Max Richter should check out Dundonian Andrew Wasylyk’s new album The Paralian when it comes out in February. Front man of The Hazey Janes, Wasylyk has a gorgeous side line in composing atmospheric minimalist contemporary music. Wasylyk plays the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh on January 30; the Gardyne Theatre, Dundee on January 31 and The Blue Arrow, Glasgow on February 1 as part of Celtic Connections.

4 Love Sick

Julie Knox and Shaun Canning make slick, stylish, of-the-moment synthpop under the Love Sick banner. Sir Elton John is a fan apparently. They released their debut EP No Sleep in November.

5 Apache Darling

These days Apache Darling are a proper unashamed pop band (which is, of course, the best thing any band can be) fronted by Stefanie Lawrence who is a surely a star in the making. See if you agree when they play The Mash House in Edinburgh on January 31.