When Indianapolis indie-folk-pop duo Lily & Madeleine emerged with their self-titled debut album in 2013, much of the focus in the press seemed to be on their tender years. As they faced a hungry media for the first time, the fact that Lily was sixteen and Madeleine was nineteen seemed to be at the forefront of every journalist’s attention.
The music everyone heard and the numbers they saw didn’t seem to add up — but the songs on that record drip with a dose of maturity that makes nonsense of any notion that great songwriting must come with experience. Because how can people so young write meaningful lyrics when they’ve yet to get out there and really live, right?
Sisters Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz proved early on that teenagers are quite capable of expressing valid feelings, with a level of depth that goes way beyond the vacuous tosh tossed out willy-nilly by so many manufactured pop stars of a similar age. These girls are the real deal now, but they were already the real deal three years ago.
In truth, though, the siblings don't know what all the fuss was about.
“I guess it’s relevant to our success, because not many people are able to create a music career for themselves at such a young age,” says Madeleine. “So it is relevant. However, there is more to us than that.”
She’s not kidding. The singing sisters were discovered after they uploaded a bunch of videos of themselves singing covers to YouTube. Local producer Paul Mahern was so impressed by their natural harmonies that he invited them to his studio in 2013 to record what became an EP, The Weight of the Globe. Their debut album quickly followed, and a sophomore effort, Fumes, arrived the next year. They subsequently cut ties with the Asthmatic Kitty label, and this year’s Keep It Together comes via New West Records.
"Prolific" is a strong word, but these two apparently have no shortage of songwriting fuel.
“I just write about my own experiences and my friend’s experiences,” Lily says. “Most of the songs that I write are a reflection of reality. I don’t really write about dreams or big ideas.”
Madeleine agrees, adding, “Most of my writing inspiration comes from personal experience or experiences that my friends have had that I tell from my perspective, in my own way.”
While the two have written together as a team up to this point, the new album finds them writing separately and then coming together to iron out the song before recording. They admit that this felt rather unusual after growing up singing together at every available opportunity.
“Our mom was very musical, and she sang around the house with us all the time,” Lily says. “She plays guitar and piano as well. We took piano lessons when we were both eight. Madeleine took voice lessons when she was eight or nine, and I was too young. She would sing and play piano with her voice lesson teacher, and I would just dance around the living room. I must have been seven.”
Lily adds, “I think we’ve grown a lot since then, but I still feel like I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of writing.”
[Below is the premiere of Lily & Madeleine's tour video.]
It sounds like they're doing just fine, though, and it can't hurt that they're soaking up some solid influences, including Radiohead and Arcade Fire. They seem to be surrounding themselves with people who are leading them down all the right roads; most important, they come across like two young women who already have their shit together.
And they can’t wait to get back to Denver.
“I remember that it was February last time we were there. There was a blizzard, and we almost didn’t make it,” Madeleine says. “It was so bad, but it was a great show. Really lovely.”
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“This time we have a four-piece band, like last time,” Lily adds. “But this time I think our set is better rehearsed and more lively. It’s in promotion of the new album, so it’ll be mostly the new songs.”
And when this tour is over, guess what? They’ll be writing again for the next record already.
“Lily and I are going to go back to Indiana, and we’re hoping to write a bunch of songs and just prepare for our next record,” says Madeleine. “We don’t really have a plan for what it’s going to be like or when we’ll release it, any of that — but we’re looking forward to the future.”
Lily & Madeleine play with Shannon Hayden and Matt Rouch at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18, at Lost Lake Lounge, 3602 East Colfax Avenue, 303-333-4345.