Last week The Watson Twins performed at L.A.’s Natural History Museum as part of the museums ongoing First Fridays series. AD correspondents Jason and Ben were there and had a chance to catch up with Leigh after the show.
AD: Having played and recorded with Jenny Lewis, recorded your own album, and now on a national tour, you’ve come along way. How do you think you got this far?
Leigh Watson: We are originally from Kentucky and we moved to LA to pursue music. We moved to Silverlake where we met many like minded people. We weren’t afraid to leave home, and jump into it, which is what allowed us to get to where we are. Also, having a sister there with me for support helped a lot too.
AD: With the influx of female singer song-writers, such as Kate Nash, Feist, and Lilly Allen how do you distinguish yourselves? Or do you even try to distinguish yourself?
LW: Well, it’s a very exciting time for women in music. Rather than worry about the many other female singer-songwriters out today, we embrace the fact that women in general are doing so well in music right now. There was a lull for women in the early 1990’s and the early 2000’s, but now women are back on the map. As for distinguishing ourselves, we take pride in our strong harmonies and backing vocals. Growing up we were really able to hone our vocal abilities by singing in our church choir.
AD: You guys have a great sound, it’s unique, who are your biggest influences?
LW: Emmylou Harris sang with everyone, she had the perfect voice to harmonize with, but was distinct as well. This was what we tried to accomplish when we played with Lewis. We wanted to harmonize well with her, but distinguish ourselves at the same time.
AD: You guys seem pretty close on stage, are there ever any sibling rivalries?
LW: No, not really. When it comes to music, we have never been competitive. We rely on each other for help and inspiration. The only arguments come when one of us is working harder than the other. We like to share the workload, so sometimes we get on each other’s case about that. We both give 115 percent, so I guess you could say 130 percent goes into everything we do.
AD: Don’t you mean 230 percent?
LW: Ha yeah, that’s what I meant, I guess you can tell I’m a musician and not a math major.
AD: How do you go about your songwriting?
LW: We both write songs separately. After we have the general idea, we bring it to the other and work on it together. The improvements often involve strengthening choruses, re-working lyrics, and adding harmonies. In general though, we each write our own songs.
AD: This was a unique environment to play a show in, how did you feel about playing a concert in a museum, and how did it rank amongst past shows you have played?
LW: It was an amazing environment. Museums are cool. The coolest show we’ve played may have been Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. That was so cool. I also really liked playing at the Getty, yeah it’s great playing at museums it makes the show interesting.
Continue reading after le jump….
On these Friday nights, walking into the museum feels less like going on grade school field trip, and more like entering a trendy Hollywood club that features multiple bars, catered dinner, and a crowd of young Angelenos. The show took place in the African Mammal Hall exhibit, which was now set up as a fully functional live venue. This environment proved to provide the perfect ambiance for a performance by the native Kentucky sisters. Their set opened with an up-tempo folk original and was shortly followed by a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”. The set was kept dynamic as bright upbeat songs were woven in amidst mid-tempo folk ballads, while the twins each took their turn on guitar, harmonica, and lead vocals. The consistent and perhaps most impressive part of The Watson Twins sound was their angelic harmonies that only a sisterly instinct could create. In between songs the sisters relaxed dialogue and endearing crowd interaction kept the audience absorbed in the intimate performance. While separately these sisters could easily get lost in today’s crowd of female singer songwriters, as a pair they bring something new and refreshing to a genre that can easily get tiresome. – Ben Schwartz/Jason Mittleman