The Sledge Grits Band: Sisterhood is Forever

By Michael Dowdell

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As seen in
Guitar Girl Magazine June 2018 issue.

“Sisterhood is Forever” appears on the home page of the Sledge Grits’ website, so we knew they would be a perfect fit for our Sister Acts Edition. We were first introduced to this sister quartet many years ago at the NAMM show in Southern California. Made up of four sisters who have a passion for music, their songs are beautiful and inspiring; these girls take pride in the music they create.

Pictured LtoR: Keiko, Ella, bo-Pah, Mimi
Photo credit: Lauren Stockton Photography

Sledge Grits is oldest sister Keiko, lead guitarist and songwriter, who describes herself as “pseudo band leader.” Next in line is Ella at 21 on bass and background vocals, followed by Mimi at 18 years old as the lead vocalist but also lends support as a background guitarist and pianist. Youngest sister bo-Pah rounds out the group as the drummer at 16 years old.

The sisters have two singles they have released and also active in the entertainment industry including spots in commercials and upcoming documentaries.

Managing all aspects of their career, it was interesting to learn more about these young girls, what “sisterhood” means to them, and what’s next

You are all so unique and bring your own talent and skills to the group. Tell us the story behind the name.

Yes, Sledge Grits is a very interesting band name, but we wanted to have something interesting and unique when we were coming up with it! Sledge is our last name and grits is actually an acronym for “Girls Raised in the Sun.” It’s a little hard to remember, but it’s personal to us! So, since we are all sisters, we took that and added it to our name, and Sledge Grits was born.

On the home page of your website, you have the saying “SISTERHOOD IS FOREVER.” Tell us what that means to all of you.

One of the things that make our band so special is that we are all sisters and no matter what we go through or what problems we’re having, we’re always going to be here for each other. It’s always been one of our most deep-set philosophies. People will always come and go, but what we have – the bond between us is the most important thing. We all are so close and mean so much to each other. Our parents always instilled in us the importance of family. But honestly, sisterhood doesn’t just have to be between blood. As women, we all need to support and lift each other up.

What indeed makes you all so unique is the creative and inspiring lyrics in your songs. We know that Keiko is the lead songwriter, but do you all have input on what message you want to display in your songs? And where do you draw the inspiration for your lyrics?

Ella:  Keiko has always been such an amazing and creative mind. Her mind just works in lyrical form. She can have one small experience and be able to pull a beautiful song from it. She’ll write about experiences that one of us have individually, too. So, there are different songs that have different personal meaning for each of us. I can’t write my way out of a wet paper bag! So, I don’t contribute much in that way, but we all contribute to the music. Mimi is actually a really good writer, too, and I hope to see some of her songs in the band soon, too!

With Keiko writing the lyrics, how do you all collaborate on the music?

Keiko will bring a song to us with the lyrics and guitar already done. She usually has a vibe she’s going for in mind already, so she’ll explain her vision to us, and then we all just start jamming together and figure out what works. It’s all very organic.

Is “pop rock” a main genre that influenced each of you, or do you all have a different taste when listening to music?

Ella:  We all have very different favorite types of music. I, for example, love a really strange wide array of music that ranges from country to classical to hard rock. Mimi loves soft alternative, jazz, and pop. bo-Pah loves alternative, and Keiko pretty much listens to everything. But our band influences have been pop-rock artists for a long time.

Your family has been very supportive of your musical journey given the fact that they added guitar lessons to your homeschool schedule. Share with us a little about your background in music and how each of you ended up with the instruments you are currently playing.

Our parents were always really supportive of our interests growing up. It was actually their idea to get us into music, to begin with, because we were kind of going through a rough patch as a family and they wanted us to have something positive to get our minds off of things. Our family has always loved listening to music and music was always playing around the house growing up, so it was kind of a natural direction for us. We all started in guitar classes that were free through our homeschool. Ella never connected to the guitar, so she moved to the bass. And bo-Pah was always banging on things, so my parents recommended drums so that she could get some of her energy out. And then one day Mimi just discovered that she had this incredible voice. It all kind of fell together perfectly.

When and how did the band form?

We always played together, so actually starting a real band just felt right. In about 2008 is when we actually decided that we wanted to do the band as a career. Of course, we were all really young then, so we didn’t have much direction and vision. But it’s really grown since then. We moved to SoCal with the express purpose of furthering our career. That was in 2011.

We first met you many years ago at the NAMM Show at the Daisy Rock Guitars booth as one of their artists. Pink hearts and sparkle guitars! They do an excellent job at inspiring young girls like yourselves to play guitar. You have all grown so much since then. Did being a Daisy Rock artist help introduce you to the music industry?

Daisy Rock was very instrumental in honing our focus and encouraging us to continue. I think the first time we really felt like a real band was when we got our first endorsement, which was from Daisy Rock. They facilitated our first trip to Los Angeles and gave us instruments to play on when we couldn’t have afforded them on our own. Daisy Rock has always been one of our biggest supporters. We’re very grateful.

Besides music, bo-Pah appeared in some advertising campaigns for Target and Apple Music, McDonald’s, Kohls and more, and Ella is rocking some color on the Splat hair dye packaging. I also hear there was filming of reality tv show and a documentary in the works. Tell us more about these projects!

Ella:  We love the entertainment industry, and we want to be a part of every part of it that we can. bo-Pah is really into acting and has been in a lot of commercials. She’s very natural at acting. The Splat shoot was my first modeling gig and it was really fun. bo-Pah is also being followed for a documentary about female drummers, and the band has been followed for a bit for a documentary about us! We’re very excited!

Your last single “Forever” was released last year and you’ve written some new material lately. Will an album be forthcoming? And when and what can fans expect?

We hope to put out some music as soon as we can! We’re still pretty independently facilitating every aspect of our career and putting out music is expensive! But we’re hoping to release more music this year!

Can you please give us a rundown of the band’s gear?

Ella:  I play a Schecter Diamond Series Custom-4 Bass, and am endorsed by Orange Amplifiers and Mister Cables

Keiko:  I play a Schechter PT standard guitar and have a random array of pedals, mostly BOSS pedals. The DS-1 Distortion is my go-to pedal. As far as amps, for home rehearsals, I use the Orange Crush 20 amp, and for shows, I use the AD30. And for strings, I use Ernie Ball regular slinky strings and Elixir light coated acoustic guitar strings.

bo-Pah:  My gear consists of PDP 5 drum piece set with a custom painted kit gifted to me by Eric Moore (Suicidal Tendencies, Bel Biv Devoe), a Custom 10-inch serenity snare, mostly Zion cymbals, Promark sticks 5A, and Remo heads.

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