Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sister Act

Nothing sweeter than siblings in sync


By JENNIFER LIEBRUM
Express Staff Writer


The Shook Twins will give three performances in Ketchum this weekend. Make sure to ask them about that egg.
Courtesy photo

here are a lot of things twins are: Unique, intriguing, and challenging and chaotic in stereo.
     When they are in harmony, it is pure poetry in motion, and that’s just for the average pair.
    For the musically inclined Katelyn and Laurie Shook, performing as the Shook Twins, it is a combination that has the young women from Idaho on a trajectory to widespread popularity.
    Hailed as ambitiously challenging the American roots genre with an idiosyncratic indie-folk song style, lush harmonies, foot-stomping gospel/swing ballads and deep groove, the Shook Twins are set to be one of 2014’s breakout bands.
    On the album “What We Do,” the inimitable talents of the Shooks are supported by their touring band, including Niko Daoussis (mandolin, electric guitar, vocals), Kyle Volkman (bass), Anna Tivel (violin, vocals) and Russ Kleiner (drum kit, percussion).
    On this latest recording, a full-length studio album forged with Grammy Award-nominated producer Ryan Hadlock of The Lumineers, the song “What We Do” addresses one’s teetering between the vulnerability of life’s struggles and the fiery positivity that carries us through. “Thoughts All In” celebrates that “the world continued to turn after all the hype of 12/21/12, and it really reminded us about the importance of being better humans, and loving our loved ones even more.”
    Since relocating to Portland, Ore., in 2009, the 20-something Twins have gained national attention and performed alongside Carolina Chocolate Drops, Laura Veirs, Langhorne Slim, and even hosted The Lumineers before they were a household name.
    Recalls Wesley Schultz, a Lumineers cofounder, “The Shook Twins helped us out when we were coming up, letting us crash on couches and organizing house shows. The Shook Twins have that DIY spirit.”
    The Shook Twins have garnered strong local endorsements, with the Willamette Weekly saying, “Shook Twins are the most exciting local folk act I’ve heard in ages. Strike that word ‘local’ and the sentiment still stands.”
    And, the sisters’ contagious quirky vibe and impassioned songwriting reaches far beyond just the indie music scene, to stalwarts in the literary world and cult craft beer companies. Neil Gaiman, a New York Times best-selling author and husband of Amanda Palmer, said, “I love the harmonies of the Shook Twins, the dreamlike songs that seem somehow permeated by the American Folk tradition, without actually being part of it. They make music that twines through your soul the way vines cover an abandoned shack in the woods.”
    That translates to harmonies enmeshed with African-style guitar riffs and campfire percussion and incredible layered storytelling.
    The futuristic apocalyptic gospel ballad “Shake” tells the story of a couple who’s survived a massive West Coast earthquake, only to face theft and heartache. But only remember the refrain, ‘The earth is gonna shake you down,’ and one can take comfort in the fact that those who harm will receive their retribution.
    “Crisper” is an ode to growing up and the transition of kids starting to care about money. Laurie Shook recalls, “My sister and I used to spray our dollar bills with water and place them in big books to make them look crisper.”
    On “Awhile,” the twins focus on a new relationship that’s seemingly very promising and moving fast. The chorus raves, “Stop thinking about the end when it’s just beginning, hold my hand and make your head stop spinning.”
    Katelyn stopped spinning long enough to answer a few questions prior to their upcoming shows around Ketchum during the weekend of Feb. 7-9.  


IME: At what point did your sister act stop being something cute and you realized you were on to something?
    I suppose we realized it was something more when we found some musicians that were far better at their instruments than we were to join us and become a real band. That was 2007, when we met Kyle (who is still our bassist) and Lane who played cello. Those boys really made the music sound more professional and gave us some credibility.

What did the move to Portland provide?
    Inspiration and exposure, mostly. Since we moved to a “city” our songs have expanded into a larger realm. We’ve also found more musicians to join the team. So having them and being surrounded by the creative brilliance of this city, we have begun to find our true sound and our songs have gotten deeper in subject matter and more complex in composition.

What’s new and exciting for y’all right now?
    We feel like we’re standing at the edge of a precipice. We’ve recently added some new members to our team (on the business side of the music) and we are about to release our third studio album that we recorded with a great producer, Ryan Hadlock. We have spent a lot of time gathering tools and momentum for this release on April 8, so we are full of excitement and hope for what sort of success this record will bring.

What’s the genesis of your telephone microphone?
    That telephone mic was a Craigslist miracle. I was looking for something that would add some texture to my voice for certain parts of certain songs. And I was originally looking for a bullet mic (which is normally used for harmonicas) but I came across this mic that someone had made and I was the first to call him and track it down. It was $20 and it has changed my life.

If you broke up, you would still be sisters, but did you think about your friendship before embarking on this road? (I have identical twins, 10, and am not so sure where that relationship is going.) Are there any built in compromises like, I get the top bunk, the brown M&Ms? Diva prevention materials?
    We never really thought about any negative consequences before going down this road together. We’ve always gotten along and we’ve always liked the same things so it’s never been a concern of ours, really. We compromise with each other all the time and we just innately seem to make things fair between us, so there’s no real diva prevention needed!

If y’all weren’t growing a band together, is there something else you could see doing together career-wise?
    I’m sure we would be doing something together if it wasn’t music. Like I said, we’ve always liked the same things and we like working together—we think it makes us stronger. If it wasn’t making music, I could see us doing something in the film industry. Not acting, but on the other side of the camera. Part of our college degrees are in film, so it’s always been a side passion for us (more for Laurie than Katelyn).


Twins stop here
- Friday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m., at the River Run Lodge of Sun Valley Resort in Ketchum.
- Saturday, Feb. 8, at 9 p.m., at Whiskey Jacques’ in Ketchum. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 the day of show.
- Sunday, Feb. 9, at 3 p.m., at Warm Springs Lodge, at the base of Bald Mountain in Ketchum.


 




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