One starts a sentence, the other finishes it — you’d think that’s a cliche thing to say about twins until you meet Julie and Carli Kennedy, known as Twin Kennedy, who, quite literally will start and finish a song between one another.
Like two violins synchronized in almost delicious harmony, they’ve become the quintessential duo behind Canada’s hottest new country music — and their latest album, It’s a love thing.
And since they happened to be here in Sooke following a long trip across Canada (started in Cape Breton, P.E.I), the Sooke News Mirror caught up with them over a cup of joe to find out where it all began — and how love — and all its inherent meaning — became the theme of the new album.
“Our songs are about love, but it can be about heartbreak, or relationships, or about family, or your community, it’s a love thing. It just works,” Carli said, adding that love can mean also doing something nice for your family, or a friend, or perhaps even a stranger.
“You’re doing it for love; we can either write this just like boy meets girl, they fall in love, it’s a love thing, or we can really write this about something bigger, about all the things you do for love,” she said.
Playing piano since age five and guitar and fiddle since age seven, the Kennedys were pretty much born into a world of music, having initially started playing country tunes with their family up in Powell River where they grew up.
“Dad grew up playing in bands and mom plays instruments too, she plays piano, and everybody would sing and have family jams,” Julie said. “It was just a way of life – every weekend we’d do a gig, and it just got bigger and bigger.”
Their musical performances got to such a point that their parents bought speakers so big and heavy that they could barely carry them around, chuckled the twins — at the same time, obviously.
“People started taking notice, so we kept being asked, ‘hey can you guys come out and play at the seniors’ home, or will you come play at the fall fair’, and then it became a thing and we started playing as a band – we’re the Kennedy family band,” Carli said.
On top of learning ballet, voice and guitar in their younger years, the twins then came to University of Victoria — where they earned their bachelors degrees in musical performance and sharpened their hands at classical music as well.
“We’ve been studying classical music while also playing country music – it was good, we learned all our scales, it was a good foundation,” Julie said. “You study and practice for a million hours a day.”
But it wasn’t in the classroom where the musical magic really happened, noted the Kennedys; it was out on the road, in the wild of nature.
“The feel and vibe of it [It’s a love thing] came from being out on the road; we like adventure – this year we’ve been all over – we’ve been touring the east in the U.S., Florida, Mississippi, we made our album and we went straight to Sweden, then to the Yukon. We did a 12-day tour driving the Alaska Highway – then across Canada,” Carli said, adding that a song often spawns from that unique “mind-meld” instinct twins are known to have.
“One of us will be driving, and the other person’s like, ‘ta-da-da-da’ humming it, then we’re like, we gotta record it,” Julie said. “It’s either that or in the middle of the night – the only time I know it’s something good is when Julie says, ‘I like that’ – and I’m like, oh, okay.”
The duo said their ongoing adventure through the world of country music also created a strong love affair with the town of Nashville, Tennessee, also known as the world’s heart of country music. Given their love for the countryside and romance of country music overall, this is certainly the place to be.
“All the biggest country stars, they all live there – all the main industry, the big labels, publishing companies, songwriters, they’re all there. That’s where we go to do most of our songwriting,” Carli said, adding that country music has all the elements of love for inspiration.
“When we’re writing songs, we’ll draw from that experience, but to get the structure of the song, Carli will start a lot with guitar, and then I start a lot from a hook. It’s a love thing came from that title,” Julie said.
It’s not just tours and concerts though; the twins take part in several workshops with schools and music students along the way — in their latest tour, they did six workshops for groups of all ages and musical experience.
“We’ll sometimes develop a specific workshop that’s based on performance – the kids get up and play with them,” Julie said, adding this is a great experience for them to meet the community and keep young musicians in their game.
“When you do a workshop, you meet a lot of the musicians from within that community, it’s really cool.”
Hm. Must be a love thing
Twin Kennedy is out on the road again, though they will be playing at the next big country music event, the Rockin’ River Musicfest in Merritt, B.C. between July 30 and August 2, 2015.
Oh, and yes, they are identical twins, so even though it’s not official, they’re affectionately known by their friends as “Carli guitarly” and “Julie feduli” – just so nobody gets mixed up. They usually carry their own instruments just to make it easier for everyone.
www.twinkennedy.com or on Facebook, video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ddl05iL_q8