How was your set today?
AJ: It was great. It was a really fun turnout.
Aly: I loved it. We had an amazing crowd especially, for the stage not being a large one to move around on.
AJ: Yeah, it was a super small stage and an insane crowd, which felt really good for us because we have a lot of Austin fans and we love this town. They came out.
How did you guys deal with the transition or distinction between your Disney years and the present? Or simply, how did you come into your own?
AJ: I don’t think we made the transition super on purpose. Like, okay, we’re done with this chapter. Move on. It was more of just naturally transitioning out of Disney Channel because our growth and inspiration kind of changed. Also, who you work for… which working with them was amazing and it gave us an opportunity to be known in many cities…which is incredible. But I also feel like naturally, when you get older, you also want to write songs that you want to have a certain story. At a certain age, you kind of have to grow out of that so it was natural for us.
Aly: It’s hard to do it gracefully and you know, we tried the best we could and I think a part of it was also taking a break from music in a way. I think that kind of saved us from ourselves and maybe making the wrong decisions or agreeing to put out a record that we maybe wouldn’t have been excited about or passionate about.
I do think that the break was really helpful to us and I think that we needed to step aside, do our own projects, not…working together was helpful for our own personal growth. Then feeling that tug of like, I miss music and that feeling of feeling like we needed to go back and be creative again. I think we missed songwriting. I think that was a large part of what brought us back.
AJ: I think the connection of playing live again, and interacting with our fans has been like a huge part of why Aly and I love what we do. We missed that. We didn’t have that for a while. I mean, it’s not like we ever fully left. We were still working on music and kind of growing and figuring out our sound, but I do feel like in 2017 that was like, okay, this is the start of a new chapter.
How has your songwriting evolved from the beginning to now?
Aly: I think in the past, we were more willing to try different styles or even agreeing to like a lyric or a melody that in our gut, we kind of knew, no, it doesn’t really feel like us and we kind of just rolled with it. Now, we really partner with people that understand who AJ and I are as artists, and would never try to push something on us that doesn’t feel authentic to who we are. I think that that’s maybe the biggest change in our collaboration with co-writers. We’ve always had great co-writers that have been really supportive of nurturing us as songwriters. But I think sometimes, people may have an ulterior motive or they know that this one song is really hot at the moment so we should start going in this direction.
AJ: And if the artist is a little unsure, and you end up working with someone that kind of needs to steer you in the right direction, you end up getting a product that you’re like, this wasn’t exactly what I signed up for, right? So I think the more confidence an artist has, the more confidence it instills in everyone making the record, which means you’re all kind of aiming towards the same goal.
Kind of like you grew into your voice?
AJ: We found it.
Aly: I think that we had it at a young age, but I think that as we get older our voice changes just like our opinions change and our style changes. It might be your political, religious beliefs change and morph. I think that we just happened to go through that under the public eye and then we said you know, let’s step aside and take some time for ourselves and work on acting projects, and maybe music is supposed to just be put on the back burner for the moment. It eventually came around because I think it is and will always be our first loves.
How would you describe your sound?
Aly: This new record I feel like is a continuation of ‘A Touch of the Beat…’ for sure. I think it’s very much rooted in Americana songwriting and storytelling. And obviously, it’s always going to be grounded in sisterhood because we’re sisters so we’re always writing from two different perspectives.
AJ: I think this particular record, in terms of like production, I would say it’s a lot more live feeling and live sounding, which I think lends itself to a live show in a really seamless way. The record was actually recorded all in one sitting, over the course of like 11 days, but in one sitting in the sense that there was a live band recording. It didn’t take 11 days to finish, but 11 days of actually laying down with live instrumentation and then Aly and I were in a room to the side in a vocal booth singing at the same time. To have that kind of live chemistry with the band playing was really, really cool, because we were able to lend our voices to what they were doing, and I think it colored the way we perform. I think the record has a very grounded live feel that maybe our past work has not portrayed.
You brought up sisterhood…is it hard being around your sister 24/7?
AJ: There are days.
Aly: …where we will stress each other out or piss each other off for sure. We haven’t had any real major fights over the course of the past tour that we just literally wrapped last night.
AJ: There’s not usually any big drama. If anything, it would be like, Oh, my gosh, I need a little bit of space. That’s why we have our own little hotel rooms or our own box. It’s like, ‘okay, I’m closing my curtain. Goodnight. Love you. I’ll see you tomorrow.’ Like when we kind of bicker, it’s a very quick thing and then it’s like, ‘alright, I’ll see in the morning.’ It’s never a big issue. At some point, you’re like ‘I need space.’
It’s tricky when you’re like best friends and sisters, and you work together. We’re coworkers so we have to kind of balance that.. And you want to always maintain your friendship. That’s number one.
Aly: And we live really close by. We are at each other’s houses all the time, whether we want to or not.
How do you guys think you escaped the Disney curse?
Aly: If I’m being totally honest, I think the reason why we escaped it was because we didn’t have the same success level as some of these other people in a way that, you know, it’s no fault of anybody. I think it’s just what it is. We didn’t have a massive watching. It was kind of accidental. There was an opportunity for other people to come in and that kind of gave us the ability to say ‘yeah, it’s time to head out.’ I think we were also, at that point, we were slightly older. We were like 21 and 19.
AJ: If we’re not really talking about the label, or the hub of Disney Channel, there are some people that have really kind of crafted and formed the fan base for Aly and I that we’ve now been able to perform for years later. I believe it’s because of them that stuff like that even started.
In the songwriting process, how do you guys delegate tasks? Is it 50/50?
Aly: It depends. It changes every writing session. We don’t really have a formula, we just know that we work really well. Writing with one, sometimes two other people, but really, it’s usually me, AJ and one other person.The more cooks you get in there, the more confusing it gets.
AJ: The thing is Aly and I are both Aries and leaders and intense and we both want to be in control. There’s moments where it’s like, ‘okay, well, one of us has to be the dominant one and step back from the other.’ And vice versa, which I think we’re learning as we go. In a writing session, it works. And worse, we end up bouncing ideas off.
Aly: We write with a lot of men so I think it also helps that we’re kind of bringing the female energy, they’re bringing more masculine energy and then it balances out.
AJ: I think they like that we know what we want.
Aly: Yeah, I think they do too, and I think another thing that people appreciate is that when they are writing with us, they’re like, ‘Oh, you actually are contributing to this writing session. You’re not just like, in here and not doing the work.’ So I think people are always kind of impressed with the fact that when we walk away, they’re like, ‘oh, yeah, they were heavy lifting this session right along with me.
AJ: We’ve kind of been that way ever since we were kids. Just takes a specific confidence.
Aly: The people that we worked with when we were young, nurtured that in us and made it feel like there was a safe space for us to be opinionated in a writing room without being rude. But also saying, you know, ‘I don’t know if I like that’… We want it to be a good depiction of what we are as artists and if we’re gonna go up there every night and sing the songs, we want to know that we believe that.