Hey! We’ve been busy! Together we’ve been getting organized for our EP release, rehearsing, and playing lots of local shows. Suki has been booking our summer Push On tour and doing press research. Ruby continues her online studies at the Berklee College of Music and managing projects for other musicians.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Lullaby”?
Lullaby is a driving, dark, dreamy song that is not meant to lull you to sleep! The song’s original arrangement was drastically different – having a slower pace and arrangement more like a Japanese children’s song (Suki was born in Japan). However, after examining the lyrics we felt it needed a more frenetic approach, alternating between “running away” and “hiding, wide awake”.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
If you think about it, all songs are about relationships. This one is about an adolescent’s relationship with their family – sometimes running away is the best option.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
It was exhausting but fun! We spent months preparing for the 8-hour shoot. Location scouting, audio preparation, vetting videographers, arranging assistant support, planning the visual approach, etc. The shoot itself was in a warehouse at The Parlor Studio in New Orleans. The space was delightfully grungy and filled with curios, knick-knacks and what-nots, allowing ample material to paint an appropriate picture in the video. After the shoot we spent weeks editing the video ourselves.
The single comes off your new album Push On – what’s the story behind the title?
In late 2017, we were near completion of an album when, after four years, our percussionist left the band. We had all that time and money wrapped up in the recordings (and merchandise, promotion, press, etc) so instead of nixing the project, we scaled it down to a five-song EP for this release, did some additional editing and production, and replaced the percussion tracks on Lullaby. We also renamed the band to The Two’s (for obvious reasons), reworked all our web presence and merchandise, and re-learned all the songs as a duo with footdrums. This whole complicated process took a year and a half – during which time we caught ourselves, more than once, saying “let’s push on.”
How was the recording and writing process?
We collaborated on all the songs. Over time as we played the material we refined arrangements, phrasing, lyrics, dynamics, effects and tempo. It’s amazing when rehearsing a song, one of us may do something a bit differently, or improv a new line – then it’s “Wha!! Stop! Do that again!” And that leads to revisions, which lead to new insights to the song, more decisions, and back-and-forth about should this note be F or F sharp? Do we bring it down here or bring it up? Which is the best way to manage this transition? It’s a delightful process, creation. But we digress…starting about 3 years ago, we went into the studio and laid down all the tracks over several days. Adam Keil was our engineer – his steady, serene hand kept us comfortably on track. Then came the editing, which we did ourselves over many months. We were lucky to secure the talents of engineers Ben Lorio (New Orleans) and Grammy-winner Sylvia Massy to mix the songs: we are a challenge to mix given the interplay we want between cello and vocal, and our emphasis on dynamics and clarity. We strive for each instrument to be balanced in the mix; all parts are important, like a classical quartet. And Ben and Sylvia came through with flying colors! We then mastered the songs with Steve Turnidge – a magician at such things. Finally, we found this great drawing of an octopus by Hillary Glass for our cover art and presto! An EP.
The octopus represents two things- they are able to escape from tight spots (pushing on), and Ruby – playing vocal, guitar, and footdrums all at once – is like an octopus. No really, you should see it….
How did you get to balance the classic background with your Roots influences?
Suki just somehow seems to come up with the best cello parts. We think it’s because of his exposure to so many different styles of music (he has played in jazz, folk, and classical groups, as well as his love of 70’s prog). Perhaps then it’s not all that strange he can just put his conscious mind on the shelf and improv during our composing/ arrangement sessions. Ruby weighs in with her melodic and rhythmic sensibilities to solidifies the connection. Of course it’s horrifying when after a song is recorded “in stone” Suki – out of nowhere – plays a new line or phrase which fits the song even better: Ruby curses and he looks sheepish – but what can you do?
What aspect of the 80s and 90s did you get to explore on this record?
In The Letter, we snuck in a little nod to The Smith’s How Soon is Now using a similar tremolo guitar part. Besides that obvious item, Ruby loves underground 80s and 90s music (like The Cure, The The, etc) so much that most of those influences often pop up unconsciously – so we just aren’t sure. But much of the music is dark, which is how we remember the 80s/90s! We also managed to tip our hat to Harry Nilsson’s rendition of Everybody’s Talkin’ in our song City of Gold.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
All the songs come from some angle of a personal experience. For example, Baked reflects the chaotic experience of living through a hurricane, razor-edge bluegrass style. And maybe we all know a Ms Jones– that person who tries so hard for acceptance but ends up pushing everyone away. Yea, maybe most of our stuff is pretty dark…
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes indeed! Our July 2019 tour is all set – 13 shows in 17 days. We start in Atlanta, GA then move up the east coast,, hop over to Ohio then back down through Tennessee, North Carolina and finish back in Atlanta. Whew! There’s also a radio interview scheduled along the way. Check out our tour schedule at https://www.thetwosmusic.com/performances.
What else is happening next in The Two’s’ world?
For the tour we are now at the stage of working promotion and press. We have buckets-full of local shows on the agenda, and have additional videos in the planning stages. Finally, we have jumped back into songwriting for the next album…we may even get Suki to sing a bit!