London – On the eve of a mid-February US tour Indianapolis sister act Lily & Madeleine took some time out to talk to Best New Bands, sharing some thoughts on touring, recording and the duo’s growing reputation for artful videos. The prolific Jurkiewicz siblings dropped Keep It Together almost one year ago – their third album in just four years – demonstrating remarkable maturity and signaling an increasingly diverse sound base. It is a record that engages you more and more with repeat listens and reveals its more expansive gems slowly and surely.
You are about to hit 9 US cities for a headline tour. How were the locations chosen and do they hold any particular significance for you? How many tours is this now?
Madeleine: This is not our first headlining tour, and I honestly don’t know what number tour this is! We’ve been on and off the road constantly for the last 4 years. We’ve played most of these venues before, but there are a few new ones on the list like The Village Theater in Davenport, IA. I’m excited to revisit some of these awesome spaces!
Tell us more about your connection with touring bandmates Shannon Hayden and Kate Siefker and their roles.
Madeleine: Shannon and Kate are two of my favorite ladies in this world. They’re both crazy talented and hardworking. When the four of us are on tour we all handle the management duties like driving, navigating, and booking hotels. It really feels like being part of a girl gang or sisterhood! And that’s just off stage. Playing shows with them is a blast because they’re both so good at their instruments. Kate leads us all with her ‘sick beats’ and Shannon adds the perfect subtle flare with her cello and mandolin.
Lily: Shan and Kate are definitely two of my best friends and two of the best people to have on the road with you. Madge and I got super lucky because they’re not only fantastic musicians, but also wonderful women.
Do you seek to reproduce your recorded sound as much as possible when you play live as a four-piece or is it a different live dynamic you look for?
Madeleine: It’s not too hard to reproduce the studio sound on stage for Keep It Together because we arranged and recorded the album together as a four-piece band. It’s kinda cool how the songs change and evolve live though.
Lily: I think we mostly try to keep things pretty true to the record because often, Madeleine and I tour as just a duo and have to do more stripped-down versions of the new songs, so it’s fun to have the full band with us on this next tour.
You toured extensively in the fall as support to Brett Dennen (US) and Dawes (UK). What do you feel you took from those experiences?
Madeleine: The end of 2016 was so busy and honestly exhausting. We had so much fun supporting Brett Dennen for 6 weeks. We got to see basically the entire country! It was one of the only supporting tours we’ve done, and I realized how nice it is to not have the pressure of a headline act, haha!
Lily: I was so glad we got to go to Europe in 2016, it had been way too long! Even though we only played 4 shows it was really cool to meet and play with Dawes because I had actually been a fan of theirs for a few years.
Do you have any special ‘would dearly love to play’ venues or festivals in the US or abroad?
Madeleine: My dream is to play on SNL. It’s a long shot, but it would be an honor.
Lily: Yes, I would say SNL, the Late Show (because I adore Stephen Colbert) and Jools Holland in the UK.
Any plans yet to return to the UK in 2017?
Madeleine: YES! We are returning to the UK and EU this March supporting Joshua Radin!
Lily: I’m soooo pumped about coming back so soon and we get to go to 5 cities we’ve never seen before!!
Your latest album is titled ‘Keep It Together’. How do you keep it together as sisters and how would you describe your relationship?
Lily: Madge and I have always been extremely close so it just makes sense that we work together now. We’re also pretty different as individuals so I think that helps us in the creative process.
You are gaining a reputation for prolific output album-wise. In what ways do you feel the latest one takes your sound on from its early folk roots?
Madeleine: We wanted Keep It Together to feel like a very cohesive collection, and that was easy to do with Shannon and Kate on board. We also wanted to move away from our previous folkier music to experiment with other sounds. On this record we have some more pop and rock songs which are fun to perform!
Lily: The newest record is the most honest and genuine one we’ve made so far. I know that our next record will be even more true to us.
Tell us how your songwriting collaboration with Kenny Childers has evolved over time and something about producer Paul Mahern’s input to your music.
Madeleine: Paul and Kenny are two of our dearest friends and mentors. Kenny is one of the most talented songwriters I know. He can make a song out of anything, and it’s always nice to hear his perspective. Paul is a truly inspired and seasoned producer with obviously tons of experience. Working with him is always interesting because his ideas are unique.
Lily: Kenny and Paul gave us the skills and the confidence in ourselves to write and create whatever we want and I will always be grateful for that.
Are there styles of music you would still like to incorporate into your sound?
Madeleine: Lily and I have been thinking about adding more jazzy elements. We do love brass and strings and we want to use more of those in the studio.
Lily: I definitely want to add more jazz and pop influences into our music. I think it just comes naturally for us to write folk songs so I’d like to push our abilities further.
As ‘veterans’ of three albums before many of your contemporaries have released one, how does it feel to be described as ‘mature’ and ‘polished’ at such a comparatively young age? Actually does ‘young’ matter?
Madeleine: It feels good honestly. I didn’t imagine I’d have 3 albums out in my early 20s, and it’s nice to be reminded of how far we’ve come.
Lily: Young doesn’t matter. Sometimes I feel like being described as” young” and “pure” makes us into a story instead of shining a light on the music we’ve created and its subject matter. If I’m lucky enough to still be making music with Madge as we get older, I really think we’re just going to keep getting better (at least by my standards, haha)
What are you currently listening to yourselves? Are there any artistes – past or present – who you feel really influence your own songwriting?
Madeleine: I’m loving St Vincent lately. My fav albums are “Marry Me” and “Actor.” She’s so cool and her music is fun and weird and beautiful at the same time. Working with her would be a dream.
Lily: I’ve been listening to groovy stuff like Dornik and Anderson Paak as well as a lot of Carole King, she’s a goddess!
You’re getting a bit of a name for the quality of the videos you’ve been putting out whether it’s creating a dreamscape say in “Hotel Pool” or acting in your own teen mini-movie (“Westfield”). How extensive is the creative input you have in the making of these films?
Madeleine: I love making music videos!! Getting to add a visual element to our songs is so fun. I also love to act and be a “character” outside of myself. We’ve been pretty involved in most of our videos. The “Westfield” video is my favorite that we’ve made. I also like our vid for “Blue Blades” because it’s based on a dream Lily had.
Lily: Acting is kind of exhausting for me and I don’t feel like I’m that good at it lol. It’s incredibly satisfying to finish a video and have it turn out the way you envisioned though, and I really like making videos because I think the visual artistic stuff doesn’t come to me as naturally as music does, so it’s so cool getting to work with awesome directors and cinematographers who have ideas I never would have thought of!
Tell us more about the Westfield movie in particular and the significance of where it’s set. [Btw in London Westfield is the name of a shopping mall!]
Madeleine: I think Westfield is a pretty common name for cities, streets, even malls haha – the Westfield we reference in the song is a street that runs through our neighborhood. In that video we wanted to make something very unsettling and strange, unlike anything we’ve done before. But we also wanted to make it somehow familiar and nostalgic with creepy small town vibes.
Lily: The song “Westfield” is sort of about temporary relationships and how someone can mean so much to you and then just disappear from your life. The video doesn’t exactly reflect that, but I think the creepiness goes along with the tone of the song. I also feel like we’ve spent a lot of our videos just focusing on looking pretty and ethereal, so doing a super intense shoot like that was a totally new and fun challenge.
Music and cinema are such natural bedfellows. Can you see yourselves in the movies one day? Would it be providing the soundtrack or in acting roles, or of course doing both?! If acting, would it be Pride and Prejudice or Underworld?! Or maybe Star Wars??
Madeleine: I really love to act and I definitely feel like music and cinema go together! I’m definitely into action movies although I don’t know if I could act in one myself. Creating a movie soundtrack or even curating a soundtrack of other artists’ songs would be a fun challenge. I’d love to expand my creativity in that way in the future.
Lily: Yeah, one of my dreams, if I ever have the resources, is to curate a soundtrack/score a movie. Madge would also kick ass on Broadway or in a movie musical so I’d love to see her do that someday!!
Lily & Madeleine are on tour from 15 to 25 February before heading to Europe in March. Check out these and further live dates on Facebook.
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Tony’s great passion in life is music and nothing gives him more pleasure than unearthing good, original new music and championing independent musicians. His association with Best New Bands brings great opportunities for this. He also writes for Consequence of Sound and is a judge for Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition.
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