The Shook Twins showcase adventurous side on new album
Despite being based out of Portland, the Shook Twins’ Laurie Shook says Santa Cruz holds a very special place in their hearts.
“For our previous two albums, we came down to Santa Cruz and recorded at Indigital Recording Studios with Brody Bergholz,” she says. “It’s an awesome studio, and those people are near and dear to us.”
Bergholz has a reputation for creating remixes that fuse electronic elements with acoustic folk songs, which is part of the reason the Shook Twins were drawn to record at Indigital. Some of their most popular songs are electronic remixes created by Bergholz.
When it came time to make their new album, What We Do, however, the twins opted to record in the Northwest. But we can’t blame them.
“We were thinking about coming down there again, but we decided to stay in the Northwest so the whole band could come,” Laurie says. “When we would come down to Santa Cruz before, it was broken up into pieces because not everybody could make it down there. So it was great getting to do it all at once this time.”
Previous releases from this indie folk pop group have tended to be whimsical both in terms of content (“Long Time,” for example, from 2012’s Window, is about robot love) and performance style (Laurie is a proficient beatboxer, while her sister, Katelyn, sometimes clucks like a chicken). But, while there are moments of levity on their new record, which drops this week, it has a far more serious tone than fans might expect. Laurie says this tonal shift was completely organic.
“It wasn’t intentional,” she says, “It just comes with a maturity of songwriting and our change of pace. We’ve been more attracted to darker tones and eerie vibes than to light, poppy, and happy ones. Some of the songs are still that way, but our tastes are changing a bit.”
“They are certainly a folk band,” says Bergholz. He expects they will stick to those more traditional roots in their upcoming projects and performances.
What We Do is full of the twins’ characteristically gorgeous vocal harmonies, and a very adventurous musical spirit. “Daemons” is an ominous Americana number about struggling with inner demons, while the engaging folk strains and tales about traveling the country and making music with friends in “Toll Free” makes it the sort of song that would be most appropriate around a campfire.
The album’s somewhat eclectic nature is proof that the Shook Twins are willing to try just about anything, whether it’s for their own project or someone else’s. Laurie and Katelyn have been part of acclaimed Portland pianist and composer Ben Darwish’s Americana project Morning Ritual for a couple of years, and they have just joined a choir that will accompany another artist’s new project. For Laurie, opening herself up to as many creative avenues as possible is a joy.
“One of our favorite parts about music is collaborating with other people, and I sometimes enjoy being a backup singer more than I enjoy being the lead singer,” she says with a laugh. “It’s nice to not be the leader all the time, and to open yourself up to somebody else’s art. We just like to stick our feet in other people’s projects.”
And even though the twins aren’t specifically involved in a new project with Portland singer-songwriter Nick Jaina, he did give them their biggest challenge ever last year. That the twins accepted said challenge—and it was a huge one—speaks volumes about their dedication to the creative process.
“We challenged ourselves, at Nick’s urging, to write and record 20 songs in 12 hours back in January 2013, and it was awesome,” Laurie laughs. “It was a fun challenge.”
So how did it go? “We ended up doing 20 songs, but about five of them were ridiculous,” Laurie recalls. “No. 17 went, ‘We’ve hit a waaaall! We’ve hit a waaaall!’”
The Shook Twins will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, Don Quixote’s, 6275 Highway 9, Felton. Tickets are $12/advance, $15/door. For more information, call 603-2294.