Young singer-songwriters, Lily & Madeleine are a set of incredibly talented sisters from a small town in Indiana. They are set to hit the Eddie’s Attic stage on March 26th for a return trip to debut their newest album, Keep It Together. I got the chance to catch up with them to discuss the ups-and-downs of working with your sibling, the spotlight for young female artists, and the changes with their latest album release.
Grab your tickets for their upcoming Eddie’s Attic performance with special guest, Shannon Hayden, HERE!
JS: So, I want to hear about the beginning. What got you started in music?
M: Lily and I have always loved music and have been doing it for a really long time… since we were very very little. Just as a hobby. Then we decided to make some cover videos because a lot of people were doing them and posting them on Facebook and we just thought it would be something fun to do. And then we met our manager and producer, Paul Mayhern, from Bloomington, Indiana, he saw some potential in us.
JS: I know that YouTube and Reddit played a big role when you first got started; I was wondering how much of the modern day technology contributed to your success so far?
M: So we started writing our own stuff and we made some videos of the acoustic songs that we had written; one of them, our neighbor posted to Reddit, [which]got couple hundred-thousand views within in a day. It was really weird and I don’t think that we would of gotten so much attention if it had not been for that. Then because of it, we got some local attention and then a local label called Asthmatic Kitty which is owned by Sufjan Stevens contacted us and asked if we wanted to rerelease our EP with them… I don’t think that would of happened without the help of the modern technology.
JS. Wow. It seems as if everything fell into line for you guys.
JS: I know you two are sisters, which seems like a dream come true, to be able to tour with someone so close to you. I was wondering what the ups and downs of that are? What are the benefits and costs of performing with someone you know so well?
L: I would say, to me, I know I don’t really see ups and downs. I don’t know any other way than to perform than with Madeleine. I never performed with any of my friends and I never sang with anyone, besides Madeleine. So, I mean, it’s so easy, I just can’t imagine any other way.
We almost never fight and we are used to being in close corners because we have lived together our whole lives, so touring is easy. It’s just like… an ideal situation, pretty much.
M: I have sang with some of my friends, in high school and whatnot [and]in choirs and duets; honestly, I can say that singing with Lily is just much more intuitive. So it’s really just a lot easier that way. And like Lily says, I don’t know really know any other way to tour and to live because this is just how we create our music.
JS: Yeah, I can imagine that you guys work incredibly well together just because you are related so you already know everything about each other. I was reading that Lily does a lot of the songwriting and I was wondering if you guys have any form of titles for each other for what you do in the group, what that would be be? Like if one of you is the songwriter and one does the booking, for example?
M: Well with this album in particular, Lily did write a lot of the songs.
L: But, with past couple of albums, Madeleine wrote a lot of the songs. So, really it is all kind of even.
M: I noticed that Lily does a lot more of the creative stuff and I tend to do more of the business stuff, like booking hotels and flights [etc]. Lily comes up with the parts and arrangements for live performance and stuff. So it’s a good balance.
JS: So, what is it like to balance the beginnings of the adulthood with being put in the spotlight so much? I know that you guys started in high school and you are older now, so you are inevitably put, more so, in the spotlight. How do you deal with that on a daily basis?
M: Well, it’s really no big deal because we still live in Minneapolis. We just moved into this apartment together and we are just kind of hanging out… so there isn’t that much spotlight appeal.
L: It’s definitely nice that we are not in school right now. I would much prefer to be doing this. I feel a lot more fulfilled as an individual doing this than going to class, even though I do love learning. But, yeah, we’ve [grown]up since we started. Those are pretty influential years in adolescence, like fifteen to nineteen, sixteen to nineteen. I guess it was tough trying to balance high school, like making new friends, and trying to figure out who you are while having this career.
But, I think we got through, it we are on the other side.
M: Yeah, I feel like we got through the hard part where everybody was moving away to college and we were not and we were confused about our path and if this was really worth doing. But, Lily and I have grown a lot more and realized a lot more of what we want and this makes a lot more sense now. I can’t imagine doing anything else now.
JS: I was reading in your bio, Madeleine, that you were worried about your portrayal as a woman in the entertainment industry. Which I completely agree with… that resonates with me. I was wondering how you guys are working to fight that image that you put off as young female performers?
M: I think its cool that you identify with that too, especially as like a reporter and as someone with an opinion on how you want to be portrayed. When we started making music we were 15 and 17, so we were still really young. That entire image of us being [for example]really sweet girls, it was totally true. We weren’t trying to be anything we weren’t.
And now as we are growing up and, you know, finding out our boundaries and figuring out our lyrical themes, we are still trying to stay true to who we are. I think that’s more important than worrying about a certain image.
L: I think its just important to show our audiences that we are growing and that we are not the same people that we were when were 15 and 17. But I’m sure, you know, that in another 3 years I’m going to be like what was I thinking when I was 19?! I’m so different now! [laughs]
JS: Yeah, I completely agree with that! I was reading that you, Lily, were very personal in this upcoming album in terms of songwriting and I know Madeleine mentioned that a moment ago. Where do those experiences come from, that lead to such intimate lyrics?
L: Well [for]this album, Madeleine and I have been thinking about [it]as if each song is a moment in time or a night in our lives.
M: Yea like an event or a scene from a movie.
L: So I guess it wasn’t intentional, but it turned out that each song [is]representative of person or a day that happened within the past year or two, for me. When I write songs, I never set to write a song about a certain thing because I don’t feel like it works for me. I [usually]say whatever I’m feeling and try to stream all the words together to a whole idea, towards the end.
M: I agree it is hard to go into it with an idea like ‘I’m going to write about my Ex-boyfriend blah blah blah’, because it does kind of limit you a little bit. So, I also do the same thing where I just kind of go with an idea and string it along into one stream of thought.
J: Would you say that is therapeutic?
M: Oh, definitely.
J: So, for your recently released album, Keep It Together, what did you guys focus on changing as opposed to the others [that you’ve done]? What was the primary difference?
M: With this album, the main difference is that we wrote everything like a little differently; the process was [writing]separately and [coming together]in the end to edit everything. Number two, the main difference [is that]we arranged and recorded everything with the same band, which is me and Lily and our friends, Shannon Hayden and Kate Siefker.
Shannon is actually playing the Eddies Attic show with us! Which is really awesome, when we are Atlanta. So, that made all the songs much more cohesive because they were all arranged by the same four girls; it makes the live performances really similar to the recordings because it is easier to transfer to the stage when it is just the four of us.
L: Yeah, I think we were trying to take a big step forward, but this album ended up being different because of the people we were working with…
M: Its refreshing to have new thing without trying too hard to create it. You know?
J: Yeah, definitely, especially as you get older as your styles and interests are changing. So your concert at Eddie’s is actually one month after your CD release, which I’m sure you already know. Will that performance be primarily focusing on the new album or will it be a mixture of everything you have recorded?
L: We haven’t decided yet. I think the new album is like 45 minutes long; we might want to mix in some old stuff just to have a full hour set. But, I think we are going to try to play everything and more.
J: I’m sure your audiences will be thrilled to hear that!
L: We hope so.
J: So, tell me about what the craziest thing is that has happened to you guys while touring and performing?
M: Oh, I know! I know! It was the first show of our tour we did in November 2014. We were playing in Charleston, West Virginia on this show called The Mountain Stage… [which]is a really cool idea, [it]has had a lot of great artists, Bluegrass, Country, Folk, and all that. We were opening for James McMurtry.
For some reason, the audience was crazy that night. There were people dropping acid and everybody was storming the stage and dancing, just a bunch of white people with dreads. It was very strange.
J: Oh My God!
M: [Laughs] Looking back, it is funny. In the moment, I thought ‘what is going on?!’ The show, itself, though, was wonderful. The Mountain Stage is a really neat program.
J: They were just super excited? That’s so funny!
L: They lost their minds!
J: What is next for you guys musically and life, in general?
L: Right now, I’m trying to not look too far into the future. Trying to focus on this album, because it hasn’t even come out, yet. So I’m trying to think about the tour we have in March; we might do more dates in May, we may go to Europe over the summer. Then after that I don’t know…
M: And that is super freaky, so we are just trying to focus on the present. We can’t know what 2016 will look like until the album is released. I also hope to do some acting this year on some independent stuff, with friends, because I really love that. So I’m hoping to do more acting and definitely lots of more touring with Lily. [I’m] taking [it]month by month.
J: Enjoying it while it’s going on… that’s a great a way to look at it. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
M: We will be in Atlanta in March, and also doing south by southwest that was just announced in Austin! And we love Eddies Attic!
L: Because we have been there a couple times before.
J: Ah, we love you too, love to hear that!
Catch Lily and Madeleine with special guest, Shannon Hayden, as they hit the Eddie’s Attic stage on March 26th! Tickets can be purchased here. Also, be sure to check out their recently released album, Keep It Together, available here.