The Canadian folk duo of Hannah Walker and Jamie Elliott — aka Twin Bandit — comes from a long line of harmony makers. Many times the pairing is made of siblings like the Louvins, Everlys McGarrigles, or Roches. While Walker and Elliott may not share biological DNA, their musical chemistry is undeniable. Twin Bandit’s debut album, ‘For You,’ comes out on Monday and opens in the sparest of ways with “Tides,” building from there. If the Wailin’ Jennys had made Emmylou Harris’s ‘Wrecking Ball,’ it might well sound like ‘For You.’
The two of you met while working at St. James Music Academy. How did you discover your musical chemistry?
Hannah Walker: We discovered our mutual love of harmonies the good ol’ fashioned way… by singing together! We were cooking at the St.James Music Academy and I started to sing an old traditional. Jamie joined me in beautiful harmony. It’s rare to find two voices that blend. We knew it was a special thing to find a singing soulmate. So began the early days of Twin Bandit.
Being signed to Nettwerk and gearing up for the album release has happened pretty quickly, right? How does it feel to be getting your music out there?
Jamie Elliott: It feels incredible to be able to share our music with a large audience. We have gone from playing for our family and friends in living rooms to sharing the stage with musicians that we really admire in some of the most beautiful venues. We feel honoured for our opportunity to work with Nettwerk. They believe in the power of music just as we do.
What other duos do you two study or admire for their harmony techniques? Is there one, in particular, that Twin Bandit is musically related to?
JE: Some duos that we look up to are the Louvin Brothers, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and Simon and Garfunkle. Although Fleetwood Mac isn’t a duo, we have always felt very inspired by their harmonies.
It’s interesting that you cover a Daniel Lanois tune on the record because “Rosalyn” sounds like a Lanois production. Are you both fans of his? One more than the other?
HW: I think back fondly to Lanois’s music in the background of my life. He was a musical fixture in our household, from his familiar production on many of our favourite albums to his own music. When I met Jamie, I introduced her to the album ‘Shine.’ She felt a connection to his lyrical honesty and the evocative soundscapes the same way I did.
This album could have easily been just your voices, your guitars, and your songs. But it got gussied up a bit, and gorgeously so. Did the two of you have a vision going in or did Jon [Anderson] shape the sound?
JE: We would have to say it was a little of both. Jon Anderson was amazing to work with. Even though we often play live as a duo, we were so excited to fill out our sound with the insight of Jon’s production and our friends’ musical talents. We were able to meet many times before recording to find mutual inspiration for the album’s sound. Jon has an incredible taste in music and he helped us actualize our vision and bring it to life in a new way.
‘For You’ is out on June 29th via Nettwerk Music Group and is available at iTunes. You can stream the album in its entirety below!