Lily and Madeleine interview
Indianapolis born and raised teenage sisters, Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz, are setting tongues wagging at the moment with their beautiful folk pop. The duo recently toured the United Kingdom, performing songs from their acclaimed debut album, including stunning new single “I’ve Got Freedom”. We caught up with them for a chat:
Hello Lily and Madeleine! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. How did your UK tour treat you? What were your highlights?
Madeleine: This tour has been so fun! It was our first big trip to the UK and we’ve gotten to see so many neat cities! Edinburgh was beautiful!
Lily: Last time we were here we only got to see London, so going through the countryside has been awesome, too.
How did you start out as a band? Has music always been in your family?
M: Our mom is musical and she encouraged us to take piano lessons when we were young. She’s also always singing around the house so I think we got our voices from her.
L: Both our parents love music and always played music around the house. It seemed like a natural thing to sing with my sister.
How does your songwriting process work? Do you mainly write together from scratch, or do you start off separately and then collaborate at a later stage?
M: Usually we start separately and then collaborate together. That method is the most effective because it allows each of us to add something different to a song. We do sometimes write from scratch though.
L: It’s kind of hard to just sit down with no ideas and write a song, so I prefer to start when I have inspiration, although sometimes just working through a small string of words works out. It just depends!
Your breakthrough came from people seeing you on Youtube. What made you decide to post a clip on there and did you ever imagine it would garner you such interest?
M: Our friends Stu and Nicole made the beautiful black and white videos for us and we posted them to YouTube hoping to spark a little bit of interest before we released our EP. We never ever thought we would get so much attention from YouTube, but it really jump started our career.
L: The internet is really an amazing tool for artists today. You can reach so many people in so little time! Like Madge said, we never expected to receive so many views and such positive feedback, it was just an attempt to get ourselves out there.
The first time I heard you, I was reminded of First Aid Kit. Is this a comparison you welcome?
M: We LOVE First Aid Kit and are so inspired by them! I understand the comparison because, like Klara and Johanna, we’re sisters. However, we want to create our own sound and style as Lily & Madeleine.
L: Yeah, it’s definitely a compliment to be compared to them, but at the same time we really want to be our own band.
Am I right in thinking they joined you at your Manchester show? How was that?
M: Yeah that was incredible! Jo Rose opened the show and had his “good friend” Klara Söderberg join him on the last few songs. Lily and I recognized her in the audience immediately. We spoke to her and Jo after our show. She’s one of our heroes. It was so cool!
L: We really are so lucky to be doing this and to be meeting incredible musicians and people who had inspired us for so long.
It seems that your success has come about quickly. Does it all feel surreal? Has there been a particular moment that has made you take a step back and think “wow, my life has really changed!”?
L: We performed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in January, and it was probably my most surreal performance. The first show Madeleine and I ever saw was Ben Folds with the Indianapolis Symphony, and to stand on the same stage as him and so many other talented musicians was just crazy.
What do you hope to achieve with your music careers? Is there a masterplan or are you happy to just see where it takes you?
M: Right now we’re happy writing and performing together. But maybe later we’ll do different things. I love musical theater and being on Broadway is a dream of mine. Whatever we do later on, we’ll always be doing something in music and we’ll always support each other.
How have you adapted to your newfound success and everything that goes with it? Are you used to having to do interviews like this one, press shoots and these kinds of things?
M: We’re starting to get used to interviews and photo shoots. Taking photos and filming music videos still kind of makes us uncomfortable. Sometimes I wish we could just make music and stay invisible, but press shots and all that come with the job.
L: Being a musician, you’re not just selling your songs. It’s a visual art too, which is something that can be frustrating sometimes. But it’s part of the process and we’re getting better at it!
Tell us a little bit about your debut album…
L: “Lily and Madeleine” was our first full length project and we’re really proud of it! After making the EP we were more aware of what the recording process is like, so the album turned out more how we wanted. The only downside is that we recorded it in only two weeks so we didn’t have much time to perfect the songs! For our next album we’ll have more time so hopefully it will be even better than the debut.
Are there any parts of the world that you have yet to tour that you are particularly looking forward to visiting?
M: We’ve never been to the west coast of the US so I’m looking forward to touring there this summer.
What music are you listening to at the moment? Have you got any hot tips for us?
M: We’ve picked up a lot of great new music while on this UK tour! All the supporting artists we’ve played with are so talented. We’re enjoying the EP of Ez Stone right now. His voice is similar to Mumford and Sons and his lyrics are really beautiful.
L: Right now I’m really into another band that we played with in Chicago last summer, called The Wild Family. They sound a bit like Two Door Cinema Club mixed with Fleet Foxes. Meeting and listening to the new artists we meet on the road is one of my favorite parts of this job.
Lastly, tell us something we would be surprised to learn about Lily & Madeleine…
M: Everyone knows we love music but people don’t know that we also love food! We watch the Food Network all the time and we really enjoy cooking and baking and especially eating!
Check out their ace new single ‘I’ve Got Freedom’, above.
Lily and Madeleine interview by Bobby Townsend