"I almost feel like I was writing this record for my past self a little bit. Because this record was definitely inspired by difficult events and things that I've learned and grown from. So I feel like it was almost kind of like just talking to my past self from a future perspective and saying everything's going to be okay."
In February of this year, Lily and Madeleine — the folk-pop sister group out of Indianapolis — dropped Canterbury Girls, their fourth LP release. In this episode, the sisters graciously shared their story with me — talking about what’s new with this album, who influenced them musically growing up, and the process of sharing pieces of their lives with the world. And, like we do with all our interviews with entrepreneurs, we also explored the plot twist that allowed them to chase after their musical dreams in the first place.
Listen now to hear our brief conversation and be sure to check out our full library of entrepreneurial interviews.
Joe: It’s so great to be back with you on this podcast! It’s been a busy few months since we launched Season 1 of Metaphorically Speaking where we compared how small sbusiness owner can craft and share their business stories in the same way an artist might go into a studio and design, draw, paint — really create anything.
Then, my family and I packed up our lives and moved across country, finally finding and buying a house in Colorado Springs in May. It’s been quite a crazy ride, but things appear to be settling down again!
And so now my co-host — Shannon Jirik – and I are busy preparing Season 2, in which we plan to explore the fears related to marketing and entrepreneurship. And so this is really the first episode during this in-between time — our “unseason” for Metaphorically Speaking — and here’s what we hope to do in this space.
If you’ve been following Keyhole Marketing for a while you know that, for years, we’ve met and talked with entrepreneurs from all over to hear more about their personal journeys toward business ownership — and specifically to dissect what life events transpired to pick them up from the direction they’d been heading and turn them toward pursuing and starting their business. We’ve got over 25 such interviews transcribed and posted on our website.
Now, we want to continue those conversations here, in an audio format.
And today, we’re starting with — Lily and Madeleine — the folk-pop sister group out of Indianapolis This past February, they dropped their fourth LP release — Canterbury Girls. And today, our conversation covers what makes this new album different from the others, their musical influences growing up, and how they cope with sharing their art with the world. And, of course, we also explored the plot twist that took place in their lives that allowed them to pursue their musical dreams in the first place.
Madeleine: Hi, Joe!
Joe: How are you doing?
Madeleine: We’re good. How are you?
Joe: Doing great! Thanks so much for doing this. Thanks for the second try at this. I really appreciate it.
Madeleine: Yeah, no problem.
Joe: So where are you now, are you back in Indiana already or are you still in the process of coming back, or what’s going on?
Madeleine: Yeah, we’re back in Indy and we’re going to Europe on Monday for our next bit of tour.
Joe: Oh, that’s awesome. And what was the… I forget why you said. What was the reason to come back to Indiana again?
Madeleine: Our lease was up in New York, so we just thought we would come back to Indy and regroup and then reconsider.
Lily: Yeah, I mean we haven’t really been in our apartment since January at all. So it doesn’t make sense to be paying rent much when you’re not even there.
Joe: For sure. Is it good to be back there. Did you miss Indy or was it good to be away?
Madeleine: It’s nice to be home. Yeah, it’s always comforting to be back. I miss New York a little bit already, but we’ll be back there soon, I think.
Joe: We talked a little bit last time. In this transition from Indy — the midwest to Brooklyn, New York — what’s some of the difference? How do you think Brooklyn has maybe changed you for the good or for the bad? I don’t know, just how has Brooklyn maybe changed you in your time there, do you think?
Lily: Well, I definitely feel accomplished that we were able to pack up and move to a different state so far away and make it work. And, you know, a city as challenging as New York, I definitely feel accomplished that we did that, and I feel now that I have such a better understanding of New York. And I definitely would want to move back. But I don’t know, because we’ve been touring for so long. I feel like the move wasn’t that…
Madeleine: …no, it wasn’t even that big of a deal.
Joe: Yeah, for sure. We talked a little bit about this too. So when you guys grew up listening to music, what was some of the music… who did you listen to that maybe influenced your sound today?
Madeleine: I would say when we were growing up, I remember getting my first iPod shuffle. Do you remember the stick ones? Yeah, with no screen or anything. So I remember taking that to the the pool and listening to… who did I listen to? I listened to Enya a lot, honestly. I loved Enya. And I listened to Aly & AJ, they were like a sister group when we were younger. And then Green Day was also on my iPod shuffle. And then, as I got older, I got more into indie music, like indie pop and alternative rock music. And I listened to Arcade Fire a lot. Their album, The Suburbs, was really good. And Regina Spektor is another incredible songwriter that I love.
Joe: How about you Lily? Who did you listen to growing up?
Lily: I mean same here. I guess I also… I remember on my iPod shuffle listening to The Strokes and some random Beatles songs that got thrown in there. But yeah, I mean Madeleine and I listened to pretty much the same stuff growing up. I really like JoJo a lot also.
Joe: Yeah, totally. I forgot about some of those bands you just mentioned.
Lily: I know.
Joe: What’s some of your first recollections of music making an impact on you. Like when you started going, wow, I really love music, that really impacts me as a person. What are some of your first recollections of that happening?
Madeleine: I remember singing and playing in church when I was younger. And just the way you could sing the same song with different melodies I thought was really interesting and harmonizing with the choir was really interesting.
Lily: I would say… I don’t know if I had a moment where I realized it impacted me, but I had a moment where I realized it didn’t impact others in the same way. And I guess that’s kind of the same thing.
Madeleine: Yeah, I think that’s the same thing.
Joe: Yeah, you saw it just impacted you more deeply that somebody else? They were just sort of like oh, that’s just something going on in the background and to you-
Lily: Right. I was like, “Oh my god, how can you feel that way?”
Madeleine: Yeah. How can you ignore that?
Joe: No, that’s awesome. Talk me through a little bit… I know that it’s been fairly well documented but maybe that… we talked about in this interview, we really like to explore that plot twist that happened in your life that led you from doing one thing and then started something else, which is where you’re going to today with music and stuff. Talk me through maybe that plot twist that happened in your lives that led you into music and how you got discovered and got connected to the industry and all that sort of thing.
Madeleine: I would say our plot twist happened in 2012 when Lily was… were you a sophomore?
Lily: I was a freshman.
Madeleine: When Lily was a freshman in high school, and I think I was a junior. So we had been… you know, we loved music our whole lives and played and what not for fun. And then we were doing some cover videos just for fun because other people were doing it and we were like, “we’re good too, we can do this.” And so, it was a family friend who passed along one of our videos to a producer and then — his name is Paul Mahern and he works in Bloomington and he’s really incredible — and so he challenged us to write our own music.
And so, I would say that writing our own music was the major catalyst for where we are today. Because before, we had just kind of written poems and silly songs just for fun. But nothing too serious. And then getting challenged to write an EP and then record that EP and release it on a label… yeah, it just changed our lives. That was Madeleine by the way.
Joe: Yeah. I’m starting, I think, to get the different inflections in your voices. When did you know that the music thing was for you? So you started… you had that opportunity to come around. When did you start to see okay, this could be a career for us versus “wow, that was an interesting opportunity but now we have to get back to reality.” When did you sort of… it clicked in your mind and said, okay, this is for us. We should pursue this.
Lily: I think our approach has always just been taking it one step at a time, one tour at a time, one album at a time. I don’t think it was until pretty recently, like being able to look back on everything now, to be able to be like no, this is my career, this is my life. But like when we first started out, definitely. It was just sort of like let’s see where this goes. Let’s see what happens. I don’t think… I mean I dropped out of high school. I guess I would say that was the moment where I was like, okay, we’re really going for it now. But even then, I was like I could always go back. You know?
Joe: Yeah. And were you both always in agreement about that? Was there one sort of leading the charge and rallying the other person to the music thing. Were you both always in step with that?
Lily: I think we were in sync with it.
Joe: Yeah. Perfect. What are some things… you know, you didn’t really maybe step in with a ton of knowledge about the industry and things to expect. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned in the industry so far over the last several years?
Lily: Everything’s so expensive all the time and you just have to be willing to…
Lily: Invest, definitely. And also do things for experience and for fun because Madge and I don’t really make a lot of profit. You know, streaming’s so poorly paid, but whatever. Yeah, I don’t know. I think it’s definitely taught me to be more confident and to assert what I need. But I mean the general shit that you learn from any job. Like there are creepy people. There are people who don’t work as hard as you…are greedy. People…
Madeleine: I’ve learned also that there are so many different moving parts to making a record and there’s like management, a booking agent, you know, producers, and an engineer and songwriters. And there’s just a lot that goes into a music career that I didn’t even realize.
Joe: Yeah, yeah. For sure. Are there things that you maybe aspired with your life before music came around? Do you think, “wow, I still wish we could pursue that” or maybe “I’ll still do that one day once this kind of winds down.” Are there sort of life aspirations that you dreamed of as a child that maybe had to be put on hold for the music.
Lily: When I was in eighth grade, I really wanted to be a bass player in a band. Like I’ve always wanted to make music, but I never wanted to be like the front person. So I considered maybe doing art history or something in college. And I would get a degree, you know, if we have time and money at some point. I would love to do that.
Joe: Yeah. For sure. How about you Lily?
Lily: That was Lily.
Joe: I’m so sorry.
Madeleine: I would say that I thought about being a journalist honestly. I thought that that might be a fun career path because I love to write. Kind of like what you’re doing, honestly. Like interviewing people-
Joe: Oh, really?
Madeleine: -and stuff. I thought that would be cool. I can still do it.
Joe: Oh, definitely. You definitely have the connections, I’m sure. That would be great. Talk to me a little bit about the album. So you’re kind of in between tours. How did the first round, I guess, go? How are you feeling about putting the music out there, playing it live. What kind of feedback are you getting?
Madeleine: I feel really good about it. We’ve been getting a lot of good feedback and we sold out a couple shows on the last tour, which was great, and we’re hoping to sell out a show or two in Europe as well. So it’s gotten a lot of good feedback. I think it’s our best-selling record to date, which is really exciting. Yeah, the tour has been going really well.
Joe: That’s awesome. Are you excited about the next one? Is this your first European tour? Have you been over there before?
Madeleine: We’ve been there before. I think this might be our fourth time.
Lily: This is our first time going with a drummer. We’ve toured in the past as a duo a lot and also with our cellist. But this is our first time being full band.
Madeleine: Yeah, that’s true.
Joe: Nice, nice. That’s awesome. Were there things you were trying — as you put this album together — things you were trying to accomplish. Was there a purpose or “we need to put this out here to do this,” or is it always just sort of like, “we have this sort of bubbling up inside of us and we have to get it out in this album form.”
Madeleine: It’s more the second one. More of like we just have these feelings bubbling up inside us that we just wanted to release in this record. I would say that we didn’t really go into the studio with like a concept for the whole record as a whole necessarily. We just had this collection of songs that had very similar themes, and then as we got more into the recording process, we realized the central themes of the record, and so that was really fun to get to kind of explore our own music.
Joe: That’s great. Can you describe a little bit… just from the industry that I’m in being a writer and former journalist and all that kind of stuff, can you talk a little bit about your songwriting process? Maybe how that worked through this album or maybe just on an ongoing basis in your life.
Lily: Well, my process, this is Lily speaking, is usually I just sit down at the piano. Usually piano instead of guitar, but sometimes I do guitar because, I don’t know. But I’ll just kind of play and zone out and see what I feel like playing and then, you know, usually when I write a song, it’s only about a minute long. It’s like a part A and a part B, or like a verse and a chorus, and I don’t write a three-minute song right off the bat. It’s more just like a little idea. But I don’t know…I guess I sometimes think about specifically trying to write something, but mostly it’s just sort of like whatever I’m feeling comes out.
Joe: Yeah, just like sometimes some random thoughts just hit through your brain and you’re not… it’s not an organized thought yet, but you just have to get it out there.
Madeleine: Yeah, exactly.
Joe: Yeah, I’m always curious about that because writing songs is a different art form for sure, and I’ve tried it in the past for fun and it’s just so foreign to me because I kind of sit down and write with a different purpose and there’s usually some, I’m going to accomplish this or I want to say this thing and then I have it organized as far as starting here, ending here, what are the three takeaways and that kind of stuff. So I’m always curious to get inside the brain of a songwriter because it just is so different from anything I do. Appreciate you sharing that.
Lily: Yeah, I think that for me at least when I sit down and try to be like, “I want to say this and I want it to sound like this,” I end up getting frustrated because it’s never like… it’s never as good as I want it to be. So I think the key is just to not judge yourself. You just make what you make.
Joe: Yeah. That’s perfect. Yeah, there definitely is a form of that industry writing. You put it out there and just judge it later. Critique it, edit it later, but just get it out there. For sure.
Can we talk a little bit, just maybe about was there a particular audience or listener in mind when you created this album? Was there some… you know, there’s a couple songs that relate to, the way I perceive them, to women and the voice that they… speaking for them or speaking on behalf of them. Were there girls in mind or women specifically in mind that you were trying to speak to with this album? Or was it just sort of, again, just trying to put it out there and whoever receives it, receives it, and you’re fine with that.
Madeleine: I almost feel like I was writing this record for my past self a little bit. Because this record was definitely inspired by difficult events and things that I’ve learned and grown from. So I feel like it was almost kind of like just talking to my past self from a future perspective and saying everything’s going to be okay and stuff like that. But also, I feel like when we’re making a record, I don’t really picture my audience for the most part. I just kind of put it out there and just want to see what people, how people react.
Joe: Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah, I think that’s the interesting part too… that’s sort of the last question I had in mind. What it feels like for you as artists to work kind of in a silo and be able to pull some things from inside and put them in a form that shares that story. But then you actually have to put it out there, share it with somebody else, and get that reaction from them, especially when it is such a personal experience.
So how does it feel for you now that you’re sharing these songs with people. I mean is there a lot of fear for that for you? Is it actually maybe cathartic to actually share with people and get that feedback? How does that affect you, the two of you, when you share… finally get a chance to share your artwork.
Lily: Honestly I feel like my… I’m always just thinking about how it feels for me to sing these songs onstage or how it feels for me to write them and it’s nice when people like them and obviously I want people to like them. But I don’t know, I just think you have to be about expressing your own emotions and if somebody relates to that, that’s awesome. But I don’t read reviews. I just don’t like it. I don’t know. It makes me feel weird. Because this is my life that I’m singing about, and people are judging it. It’s funny.
Joe: Yeah. It’s funny, weird, and in a lot of different ways I totally hear you. Yeah, for sure. Well, from our vantage point, I appreciate you putting it out there. I think that always gives us a platform to see what are ways we need to express some stuff that’s going on for us and even though you, I’m sure, get some weird feedback, known or unknown, it’s always good as a listener to go, okay, wait, what are some things I need to explore in my life? So I appreciate that, what you guys do in your writing, for sure.
Madeleine: Thank you!
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For more information and to check out our full library of entrepreneurial interviews, visit KeyholeMarketing.us. Also, feel free to send us an email at email@example.com.
Thank you for listening.