INTERVIEW

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When did you first realise music could be your career?

We never expected or planned for this. Since we were kids singing and songwriting always brought us a lot of joy but we always thought a career in music would be out of reach for us due to being from a small country town and not truly recognising our own potential. It was in 2012 at the age of 17 that we started posting singing videos to Youtube for our grandma overseas. To our amazement, out of nowhere people from all countries started listening, engaging and supporting! We still feel undeserving but we know this is what we want to pursue and we’ve never looked back!

How would you describe your style of music?

We’re proud with a “pop” label but we’d describe it more as “meaningful pop” (most of the time). Writing music is a space we explore and process some of the hard things we go through in life. We love pop because you can take some pretty intense topics and wrap it up in contagious melodies that are inclusive for all people to enjoy.

What does the song writing process typically look like for you guys? Who does what?

It’s often that our creative ideas come when we’re on a walk/stroll (together or alone)–it's this timewithout distraction where feelings and thoughts become most clear ... and then organically it turns into a song!

We’re pretty lucky to have different creative strengths to one another which makes our collaboration optimal and non-conflicting! With Vanessa having a flare for melody and Arna for lyrics, it’s the perfect team!

Sometimes we begin by building from Vanessa’s melody or building a melody around Arna’s lyrics–but either order we build something together effortlessly. We’re never stepping on each others toes and always in tune with the direction it’s heading. Collaborations can be very slow and hindering if you’re not on the same page!

Have you ever experienced

writers’ block, and if so, how have you overcome it?

 

Yes, absolutely! It’s very normal and we don’t think artists should beat themselves up about it. Creative inspiration isn’t mechanical, it has a mind of its own, it’s unpredictable and it’ll come when it wants to.

There was a period of about 2 years in which we could no longer write a song solely on the guitar. We had spent so much time in the studio with electronic producers that we became so use to it and felt like we lost touch with our original approach to songwriting. It really upset us at the time. However, once we broke this dry spell with a song we FINALLY wrote using an acoustic guitar (called "Just Enough"–which can be found on Youtube) we let go of that self doubt and fear and just WENT AT IT, again and again and again. The power is in you.

A helpful recommendation we can give for writers blocks is "prompts"–such as opening a dictionary, landing on a word and building around it. There’s definitely ways you can spice it up and make it fun!

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What is your formula for a fabulous outfit?

 

To be honest our formula is to have no formula! We honestly don’t really overthink our outfits, we kind of just chuck things together quickly! We don’t think that fashion always needs deep thought or planning. We’re very spontaneous, last minute people–often grabbing outfits in a rush before a shoot! Maybe it’s just luck that it usually “works”! For this reason we sometimes find it funny that people think our fashion is fabulous!

Fashion influences?

Oh gosh!! We’re very eclectic with our taste– everything from Madonna, Grace Jones and The Spice Girls ... to street fashion, recycled and runway! Taking inspiration from everything breeds something new and there’s no need for rules in fashion!! You’re totally allowed to dig many sub-genres, you don’t have to box yourself in!

Musical influences?

 

We love a good pop artist with solid melodies, killer vocals and production! Some of our favourites include Robyn, Maggie Rogers, Christina and the Queens, London Grammar, Gordi, Charlie CXC and Allie X.

 

How do you always seem to make such incredible music

videos?

 

Well firstly, thank you for the compliment! That’s amazing to hear because most of them were done independently without a budget!

We’re always very involved in our music videos–if you take charge you’re more likely to get a result you’re happy with. We like to

be pretty spontaneous with our approach to shooting music videos to allow new ideas to flow in the moment. Creativity is often a leap of faith and there’s something beneficial in being open instead of rigid with the process.

For almost all of our videos we’ve given “beginners” a go as we can see potential outside of status. We find that newbies often have a genuine excitement, passion, and energy for the project and we buzz off that!

What was it like headlining your first show at Lismore City Hall?

 

It was a huge and humbling moment!! We can’t think of a better place for our first headline show than the hometown that nurtured us from the very beginning and continues to this day. Due to covid it was a long time since we played a live show and we honestly weren’t expecting anyone besides family to come see us. We were moved to tears by the room filled with love and support and people that even knew our lyrics! Our headline show in Lismore was such a special moment and has left a mark on us.

What is your biggest, craziest, goal?

 

We always find this question hard to answer. It might sound lame or modest, but getting joy out of what we create and bringing joy to those consuming it is the goal. Perhaps we’re a bit too down to earth...

What makes your new single
“Big Heart” one of your most vulnerable songs to date. What was it like to collaborate with Lupa J and Sam Phay on its production?

 

In this song we open up about something we’ve never been public about before– our sexualities. We held off, not due to shame, but because it was a hard and confusing journey to figure out. When it feels like everyone else has it all figured out it can be very alienating... That’s why we think it’s important to be authentic with our music because others may be desperate to relate.

It was a wonderful and wholesome experience collaborating with Lupa J and Sam Phay on this song. We knew this collaborative choice was right because they’re both good friends of ours, and therefore were people we could trust to be vulnerable with–and, they’re both artistically brilliant. It was probably one of the easiest and funnest sessions we’ve ever done!

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Sydney vs. the Northern Rivers?

Well ... that’s like comparing cookies and brownies. When you love both how can you choose? We feel so lucky to have two wonderful places that feel like home! (The op shops of Lismore take the prize though).

At this stage in our life Sydney has been pivotal in helping us come out of our shells socially and personally, and we’ve managed to build a strong network of friends which we’ve never really had before.

But even more significantly, Lismore was so vital in sculpturing the kind of people we are and supporting our pursuits. Growing up in Lismore (“Lovemore”) definitely planted free self-expression, authenticity and open-mindedness in us. We’ve always felt celebrated for exactly who we are in the Northern Rivers and we’re grateful to carry that with us out into the wider world.

Illustration by Matt Weismantel

You can listen to the No Frills Twins on Spotify, watch their music videos on Youtube and follow them on Instagram @nofrillstwins
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