As an indie artist in this day and age it’s imperative to stand out. Of course the best way to do that is to create unique, engaging music that endears you to would-be fans. This, however, is easier said than done. There’s no formula, in fact, formulas should be avoided. For most creative types the best way to stand out is to be yourself. And nobody knows more about individuality than identical twins. While it may seem counterintuitive, when you think about it, it makes sense.
So it’s no surprise that indie folk-rock group Shook Twins--fronted by identical twins Laurie and Katelyn Shook--excel at being unique, as individuals and as a band. Naturally, the band’s distinctive sound engages people who hear their recordings and excites those who see them live. Having great stage presence doesn’t hurt either. AXS recently had a chance to speak with Laurie Shook about Shook Twins upcoming studio projects and some of the aspects of their live shows that set them apart in the vast indie ocean.
When we caught up with Shook Twins they were a long way from their adopted home of Portland, Ore. (Laurie and Katelyn originally hail from Sandpoint, Idaho). The band had just performed in New York City and while the east coast may not be familiar territory in a relative sense, the Shook Twins reputation as a must-see live act preceded them. “The tour is going good so far,” Laurie said. “The last couple shows in Cambridge and New York were really great. We had a good crowd of people who were really into it.”
Getting people “into it” is one of the things Shook Twins do best. Not only do they have great stage presence, but both Katelyn and Laurie have unique, signature instruments--besides being skilled in a plethora of conventional instruments--that immediately captivate and intrigue their audiences. For Laurie it’s the golden egg. The story behind the golden egg is an amazing one and we highly recommend you read about it here, but Laurie related how it is used as an instrument.
“It’s a giant golden egg shaker,” Laurie explained. “One by one I put popcorn kernels in the tiny popcorn sized hole at the top. For a while I was also putting a contact mic on it and using it as a drum.” Using the golden egg as a drum came naturally to Laurie as her father makes udu drums, which are somewhat similar. But equally intriguing is Katelyn’s signature instrument, the telephone microphone.
“That was our Craigslist miracle,” Laurie remembered. “She [Katelyn] was looking on Craigslist for a bullet mic because we had seen artists with different textural mics that make the vocals sound different and we wanted something similar. Then she found this post that said ‘DIY Telephone Microphone’ for something like $20. She bought it and it’s been the coolest thing ever. She found this really rad, golden cover for it at flea market. It’s all ornate and golden, so that’s a theme.” The golden egg and microphone telephone are certainly cool, but they wouldn’t be anything without the women behind them. And with their upcoming EP, Shook Twins are poised to revisit their roots.
“The Duo EP is coming in November," Laurie siad. "It’s six songs and most of them are older tunes that we stripped down and did in a different way. But there’s one new one and a cover from a friend in our hometown. It’s just Katelyn and I with guitar and banjo recording in a living room straight to tape. It felt good to go back to that and remember how it all started.” But as Laurie and Katelyn remember their past they are also looking to the future. “We have a full-band, full-length album that we’re doing a Kickstarter for. We’re just sitting on it waiting for it to hatch and then we’ll come up with a team and a plan. It will probably be out next spring.”
In the meantime you can catch Shook Twins when they come to Denver’s Bluebird Theater on Oct. 15. Click here for tickets to the Denver show. The band will then continue out to the West Coast where they will be playing Neumos in Seattle on Nov. 16. You can find tickets to the Seattle show here. Also be sure to check out Shook Twins performing their single "Call Me Out" above.