Twin Kennedy Take Us ‘Homebound’ In a Return To Their Roots
The Twin Kennedy EP Homebound arrived on October 22nd and finds the duo on a North American tour bringing their signature string and vocally focused performances to audiences after a long hiatus. Twin sisters Carli and Julie Kennedy finished working on the EP itself before the pandemic but have been spending the time off the road in eventful ways, including making and releasing several music videos and creating “Wise Woman — The Show” which spun out from one of their singles that attracted a big grassroots following.
The meaning behind the Homebound title consequently evolved and took on new significance for the sisters as they experienced periods of separation and return to their native British Columbia and dug new foundations for their lives in their adopted home of Nashville. We spoke with Carli and Julie just after they took to the road again, and caught up with them about the release and reception of the singles and videos for “Homebound,” “Wise Woman,” “Call It Love,” and more, as well as discussing what this sonic return to roots means for the album.
Americana Highways: It must be pretty exciting to finally be playing out!
Twin Kennedy: We can’t even explain it. It almost feels surreal. We are so grateful to be back on the road. Our first full theater show was a happy moment for sure. That connection is so important and we all missed it so much. We’ve also been home to Vancouver for the first time in a year, and we got to meet our new baby niece. It’s so good for the soul.
AH: Was that trip connected at all with making the video for “Homebound”?
TK: That was actually a prior trip back a year ago where we filmed “Homebound” so it all ties together. We’ve been homebound in our hearts for the past couple of years throughout this whole thing. The “Homebound” video was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, in our home province, and has some vintage Twin Kennedy clips in there! But, actually, for all our videos from this album so far, we wanted to tie a piece of home to them.
So, if you saw the video for “Blindspot,” we also filmed that at a waterfall from Vancouver island near our home. We got as many locations from back home as we could. We had already recorded the album a couple of years ago, so we’ve just been doing videos and getting things ready.
AH: I noticed that these singles and videos have been rolling out over time, so I knew that you’d been working on them for a while. Was that an idea toward making singles and providing content for fans as you went along that then became an album, or was this always album-focused?
TK: The album was definitely the plan. Originally, we had about a forty day tour across North America routed to our home town. Then, Covid hit and everything changed. The cool thing is that Homebound took on a whole new meaning and we were able to extend the project. We played shows where we were homebound, literally, at our home.
We were able to focus on a special release for one of the songs on the record, “Wise Woman,” and we were able to put on a huge virtual show for it from Nashville that featured Canadian artists who live in Nashville. There were a lot of projects that ended up happening that might not have happened if we had followed the original timeline. Almost 400,000 people have seen the Wise Woman concert, and we would never have been able to reach that number of people in person.
AH: The whole story behind the “Wise Woman” phenomenon is just amazing, how the song came about, and how you made the official video, and then you created this monumental concert. It’s on Youtube now, people can still see the whole thing, too. And SiriusXM was involved?
TK: Yes, that was an amazing dream come true to have them involved. They aired the show as a radio special. They’ve been very supportive of the record in general.
AH: I love it when artists create songs that are really meaningful to them, and they are really reaching out to their local communities, but then it takes off as “Wise Woman” did. This must have become such a bigger phenomenon than you ever imagined it would be.
TK: You dream big, and set big goals, but so much came out of it that we never would have pictured. This is one of our most vulnerable, honest, and sincere projects, and we wanted to share that. With “Wise Woman,” we felt this response. People were messaging us and contacting us about it, and not just women, also brothers, and fathers. How could you ask for anything more as an artist? It was amazing. To have that connection in the middle of a pandemic was so meaningful for us, too. It really got us through.
AH: The official video shows so many women in different roles in society. Were those all women that you were connected to in some way?
TK: Yes! We’re so glad you noticed that. A lot of them were women who were close to us. We had our own moms. We had videographers working across North America, with one filming in British Columbia, and one in Newfoundland, filming our duet partner, Mallory Johnson’s, mom. All of our sisters, nieces, and best friends were in it. Then we had representatives from the military, and people we were connected to. And, of course, this was during Covid, so everyone had to be filmed individually. It was an ambitious project!
AH: It really was! I feel like you’ve been working hard throughout the pandemic. A very different song and video is “Call It Love.” I love the bright colors and the crazy, glamorous, and upbeat feel of the video and all those sounds and ideas in the song, too.
TK: We were so excited to put that one out! If you see our live show, we have a lot of energy, and we love sharing on all different topics and themes, but our main goal is to leave people with a smile on their face. “Call it Love” is so Twin Kennedy. For the video, we went to the party store and bought everything we could find.
AH: It’s over the top in all the right ways. Maybe I’ve heard too many sad, reflective, love songs, where people are doubting themselves. This song addresses some of the same situations, of feeling ambiguous in a new relationship, but instead brings this burst of energy to things. It suggests that we can change the story.
TK: It was a true story at the time we wrote it. Julie was dating her new boyfriend and totally in love with him. They were both being chicken about it, so we got in the writing room and said, “We are totally going to write this song!” We wrote it, then Julie went home and sang it for him. Now they are very much in love and tell each other every day.
AH: It worked! That’s so cool.
TK: Music is a powerful thing.
AH: It seems like, socially, people have had a hard time telling other people that they love them, whether romantically, or on so many different levels. I hope things aren’t getting worse in that regard, but sometimes I wonder.
TK: We’re both, as artists, people whose emotions are out there for people to see. It’s always been something we love expressing so we think it’s nice and valuable to talk about. We want more good news in the world. Telling people those positive things and how much they mean to you is so important during this time. Life is short. Tell people how much you love them and how much they mean to you! Hopefully the song inspires some more love stories.
AH: We briefly mentioned “Blindspot,” with its gorgeous outdoor settings. That’s a more reflective song. It’s very real and addresses something I can really relate to, of feeling invisible in a relationship. Did you freeze to death making that video?
TK: [Laughter] We did freeze, but we are Canadian girls, so we thought it was a good idea to hike into a waterfall, change into gowns, and go barefoot in the glacier water. Our videographer is from home, Dave Wallace, and he was a Rockstar in there getting the shots. We really loved how the album recording came out for that song, since it sounded really epic, and we knew that we needed to do something epic, visually, so that’s what we did!
AH: How did you feel about including a song on this album that was a little more somber? Was that an element that balanced things out?
TK: We think so. We always want a collection to have different emotions, just like a show. We want to take them on a journey. Sometimes we want them smiling, sometimes we want a tear of emotion at a live show, and we want the same things from an album. The album has taken on a longer timeline for us, as artists, and we want it to reflect those different moments that we’ve gone through.
We’ve been spending time building a second home in Nashville, being from Canada, and we want to talk about that. We’ve both fallen in love. Carli’s gotten engaged. So there’s a trajectory to that, with heartbreak, falling in love, traveling. We wanted to cover all the bases. That song was actually written before falling in love, so it’s a snapshot of our first few years in Nashville. We think it’s important to tell all those stories because, along with our fans, we’re all at different seasons in our lives. We hope there’s a little something for everyone.
AH: The song “Little Life” really helps complete this picture you’re talking about. “Little Life” is such a great song. It has this perfect Country song idea developed into this more 21st century feeling.
TK: As we were talking about, we both fell in love, and during the pandemic, we moved in with our guys and started building our lives and homes in Nashville. We’ve always dreamed so big in terms of our career, and we’ve always spent so much time together as Twin Kennedy. But also building your life with your loved one and thinking ahead toward that future is a really beautiful thing, and that’s where that song came from. We’re so glad you hear the classic Country song in it. That’s what we grew up on. We started out in a family band singing Country songs and we feel like this album has taken us back to our roots more. We wanted that classic twist.
AH: It’s got a lot of honesty to it, too. It asks what you really want in life, and doesn’t worry about what people think of that. As we were talking about with “Wise Woman,” there’s a lot of messaging out there about how women should be, and as important as it is to hear how significant careers can be to women, there’s also nothing wrong with saying, “I want my little life.” This song helps convey that.
TK: Both those things are very important to us as artists and as women. We’re all trying to balance multi-faceted lives. If anything, through this time, the craziness has shown us how important it is to have that solid foundation at home, with family and loved ones, whatever that may look like for you. It showed us how lucky we are to have that, and that it’s okay to want both. A lot of people will tell you that you cannot have a successful career as a woman and also have a family. That’s not true. If we could go back and tell our high school selves that, we would tell them to dream for both and make both come true. That’s what we want all the girls to know.
AH: I know that you see this album as a bit of a return or a revisiting of elements from your past. Did you think that way, intentionally, when building up the sound for these songs?
TK: We co-produced it with one of our closest friends, Dustin Olyan, who is also an amazing player. We talked a lot about the sound and how we wanted to create the record beforehand. A lot of that, for us, was about the process of how it was recorded. In the past, we’ve had everyone there, and laid down the beds, then gone from there. But with Homebound, we built this from the ground up, from our roots, which are, of course, guitar and fiddle.
We play a ton as an acoustic duo, and that’s our foundation. We started everything from there and built from there adding everything else. We think that’s what makes it sound like us. It also has that more genuine and more representative Twin Kennedy feel, the feel of what you would hear if you came to a live show.
Starting with the foundations of the instruments and our voices was really cool, but we also laid some of it down live in the studio working together as we recorded. That was really special to do that in Nashville. Choosing the instruments is a huge part of it, and for us that always comes back to strings. We have a lot of string quartet parts and Julie orchestrated all of those parts. It’s almost a throwback to our classical roots and brings together those two worlds!
FInd the latest on Twin Kennedy here: https://www.twinkennedy.com
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