As Brittany and Brooke Graeff strummed the first notes of an impromptu street performance in Hanoi, Vietnam, dozens of onlookers gathered. The duo stood out in a city with a nonexistent music scene.
There, more than 9,000 miles from their home in Sarasota, the twin sisters were reunited nearly a year ago. They’d spent six years apart traveling abroad, but picked up right where they left off: playing music.
“We each just bought the crummiest instruments,” says Brooke Graeff about the reunion. “But, it didn’t matter. We were just so happy to be playing music again.”
They delved back into songwriting and began playing in local clubs. Within a few months, the sisters had expanded both their repertoire and their fan base until they felt they’d hit Hanoi’s musical ceiling.
“There really was no music scene there, so we were really overplayed,” says Brittany Graeff. “We hit a wall, and we really couldn’t get any further.”
The Graeffs moved back to Sarasota in December and are ready to tackle the music scene.
Born in Syracuse, N.Y., Brittany and Brooke Graeff moved to Sarasota at the age of 12. Both sisters learned to play instruments at a young age, including violin, piano and cello, but they never played together until high school.
“We were out on the lanai, and we just started playing music,” says Brooke Graeff. “It was like, ‘Why haven’t we done this before?’”
Inspired by the cursive script embroidered on an old family T-shirt, the 16-year-old sisters named their acoustic folk-pop act “Good Graeff” and began writing — mostly novelty songs at first.
But, after winning a battle of the bands at Riverview, they began to write more serious songs, and they continued to win local competitions and busk on St. Armands Circle throughout high school.
“The difference is that, now, we’re taking it seriously,” says Brooke Graeff. “We never once considered this a career option. It wasn’t until Vietnam that we started to take it more seriously.”
After high school, Brittany Graeff traveled to France to earn an international business degree, and Brooke Graeff studied sound-effects work in Canada. Brittany Graeff traveled around Europe for a few years before settling in Hanoi. She invited her sister to join.
Brooke Graeff says the time apart allowed them to mature. When they were reunited, their experiences fueled their song writing.
“When I was in Vietnam, I found my voice,” says Brooke Graeff. “I had all these events happening that I needed to write about and share with people.”
The duo is ready to pursue music full time. They released their EP, “Better Half,” earlier this month and have a steady schedule of shows booked before they head off on tour this summer.
“We want to take this thing as far as we can and just run with it,” says Brittany Graeff.
Click here to view Good Graeff's Kickstarter project.