Before I had officially met the members of Stormfolk, I was immediately drawn, not only to their talent, but to their undeniable on-stage chemistry. Performing a five hour set at Disney Springs, singer-songwriter duo Mick Grocholl and Kaley Dignen seemed to breeze through their set with ease and confidence. Everything about them, from their look to their beautifully powerful indie-folk voices worked together in perfect harmony. Nothing about their performance felt forced; they appeared to be a musical match made in heaven.
I had heard of Stormfolk through my boyfriend Anton, who had been friends with Mick since high school. From the moment Anton learned of my love for live music, he had been dying to take me to see his friend Mick and his girlfriend, Kaley. So, when a friend of Mick and Anton came to town with his girlfriend, the four of us decided to head over to Disney Springs in support.
Mick and Kaley had a magentic energy that caused the audience to laugh, cheer and sing along– I could think of no better way to spend a Friday night. After their set, Anton introduced me to Mick and Kaley, who were as nice as they were talented: a rarity. They had briefly talked to me about the constant struggle that comes with trying to balance their romantic relationship with their business partnership, their upcoming show as an opener for Drake Bell and just about everything in between. They had been completely open with me from the second we were introduced, and I wanted to learn more about their career, so after weeks of begging Anton to ask for an interview, the four of us went to Deeply Coffee in Orlando to have a more in-depth discussion about their journey as Stormfolk.
From the second we sat down, I could tell that the pair was eager to share about their experience as Stormfolk.
“Before I even knew she sang I asked her out,” said Mick. “I just asked her to coffee, but I had it all planned out…I had two Mumford and Sons tickets and no one to go with. I wasn’t seeing anyone and I bought them six months before.”
“He got a really good deal on the tickets,” added Kaley. “He was like, ‘I’m not going to go to the concert alone, so I’ll find a dude to go with…'”
“I wasn’t going to go with a dude,” rebutted Mick.
“You were thinking a dude,” remarked Kaley. The two rolled their eyes at each other, each laughing.
“So I asked her,” continued Mick, “and by the way, she said ‘no’ a lot. So she said, ‘well if we go we’re going as friends’ and I was like ‘duh, I’ve only known you for two days…'”
“I didn’t know him!”
“Yeah, but I had a plan,” continued Mick.
“Exactly,” said Kaley with a smirk.
The two went to the concert together, both completely unaware of the other’s relationship with music. At the time, Mick was already one-half of a music duo, while Kaley was focusing more on her career as a blogger. Mick told me that he had problems with unreliability in the past, both with his professional and romantic relationships. So, when Mick learned that Kaley not only sang but was also reliable, he couldn’t help but mix the two relationships together. He asked her to fill-in for a four hour set after his last partner canceled, to which she agreed, setting Stormfolk in motion.
“It took us a while to come up with a name,” said Mick. “First off, before the freakin’ Kardashians did it, I wanted to name my girl Stormy.”
“He heard that name when he was young,” added Kaley.
“Right,” said Mick. “So I told her, and we’re just being a stupid couple and talking about baby names, so I told her that I really liked Stormy and she goes, ‘you know that would be a really cool band name.’
“So we sat down and made a list,” continued Mick, “and before I met her I was Little Giant, but she was like, ‘I don’t want to be Little Giant, you’ve been that with other people and I feel like we need a new name,’ so we had a list of fifty names.”
Mick told me that this list includes names like “Stormy and the Lion,” and “Stormy and the Giant,” but the one that stood out to their friends was Stormfolk.
The two play Fridays and Saturdays at Disney Springs and cover popular artists such as The Lumineers, Mumford and Sons and Vance Joy. They have also picked up other gigs here and there, including an opening slot for Drake Bell at his stop in Orlando. Though the two only perform twice a week, they’ve been able to quit their day jobs, something many artists struggle to do.
“It pays enough where we can pay our bills and have a little extra,” said Mick, “but we don’t have a lot extra.
“It’s the absolute opposite of what they told us when we were kids,” continued Mick. “They said, ‘you’ll never make a living playing music you’ll have to get a real job,’ but not in a tourist town where music is needed six days a week.”
Because their gigs at Disney Springs are long and intense, Kaley told me that her voice is often completely gone by Sunday. Still, Kaley mentioned that they want to pick up a smaller gig during the week to give themselves wiggle room with income. However, Mick drove home the point that they need their voices for their recording process, which is done in Mick’s room.
Though they’ve recorded two live acoustic covers, it’s their original music that stands out. Their originals, which are released each month on their anniversary (the 19th), are exactly what you’d expect: indie folk.
“I feel like a lot of writers have a word bank,” said Mick. “I have a word bank, I like the word ‘heart,’ ‘mold…'”
“Awakening,” added Kaley. “He loves the word ‘awakening.’
“He tries too hard to be different,” continued Kaley. “I’m like, ‘you already are.’ He likes to use big words, but nobody wants to sit in their car and try and figure out a song’s meaning, they want to just know the meaning. It’s not a bad thing, but some people ask what his songs mean, so I always try and encourage him and tell him, ‘you don’t always have to use big words.'”
Coming from two different musical backgrounds, both Mick and Kaley bring something different to the table, bringing compromise and balance to their music. As previously mentioned, the two have beautiful voices that pair together perfectly. While their instrumentation simple in that they contain mainly guitar and mandolin, their compositions are full-bodied and complex. Though they’re still very DIY, you can tell by listening to their originals that they’re not beginners when it comes to writing, performing or recording. Each of their singles is a beautifully written and often vulnerable story, never failing to sound powerful.
Mick and Kaley are vibrant and funny. The duo are honest and vulnerable, not only with each other, but those with whom they surround themselves. This honesty can be felt within everything they do, from their social media to their original music. With two four and five hour gigs each weekend, and days filled with writing, recording and mixing their own music, these two never stop working. Their drive and humility will keep pushing them forward, and I’ve no doubt they’ll accomplish every goal on their list. Keep an eye out on Stormfolk and stay stormy.
Featured image taken by Anton Nikollaj at Deeply Coffee in Orlando, FL. Photo editing done by Sara Santora.
All other images were taken from Mick Grocholl and Stormfolk’s official Instagram pages. All photo credit for those images can be found in the photo captions.
Follow Stormfolk on Instagram @stormfolk