The Watson Twins
You have to love an artist who says she’s finds a creative space and inspiration when she’s doing dishes. I totally get it! You see, doing dishes makes you feel successful because you can start and finish the task in relatively short order — and when you feel successful in one area, it tends to rub off into other areas. Therefore, doing dishes is the path to enlightenment…or something.
Anyway, we should wish for many dirty dishes at Leigh Watson’s house.
Leigh (who shares her insight in the q&a below) and her identical twin sister Chandra make up The Watson Twins, a Los Angeles-based band putting out fantastic music. Their unique sound draws from a wide array of music genres and their gorgeous voices and harmonies make you eager to hear what the next track will bring.
After singing with others for many years, The Watson Twins released their first solo album in 2008, “Fire Songs” (Vanguard), which included an incredible version of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” (which we talk about in the q&a) and the spirited “How Am I To Be.” (see the videos in the q&a)
This past February, they released “Talking to You, Talking to Me” (Vanguard), an album from which “Devil in You” was an NPR Song of the Day and “Modern Man” was a Starbucks iTunes offering. They recently performed on The CBS Early Show and are regulars at SXSW, which is like the equivalent of the Olympics for indie music.
Listen to The Watson Twins, soap up your dish sponge and get inspired.
I think your sound takes on so many different elements, from 60s girl group to alt rock to country and R&B. How do you describe your music, your sound?
My sister and I always joke saying “We make music with a personality disorder”. It is such a hard question cause we blend a lot of different sounds and influences. I think it’s a good problem to have. Maybe it should just be described as the “twin-ergy”.
You moved from your native Kentucky to Los Angeles nearly 15 years ago. The other natural place to try to make it would be New York. What drew you to LA over New York?
We actually had planned on moving to New York, but a week before we left the house we were going to rent there got rented from under us. A door opened in LA…literally and we changed our direction west. I love New York…maybe someday.
What has your journey been like from first landing in LA to making your own records?
Organic. Chandra and I both feel like we have worked really hard to be here making our own records. On the flip side of that, the things that have happened – collaborations and musicians we have worked with – have come into our lives in a natural, beautiful way.
I read that for your new album, “Talking to You, Talking to Me,” you holed up in the mountains, totally unplugged from life and, in just 4 days, wrote the music to go along with the lyrics you’d already written. What was it like to create in total isolation?
We headed out to the High Sierras near Yosemite to work on the record. Totally disconnected. Most of the music and lyrics had already been written, but we were up there to paint the big picture.
Since my sister and I create music, we work separately and then come together with our producers. The “cabin sessions” was a meeting of the minds, all of us coming together to make sure the vision of the record was 20/20.
When you’re not off in the mountains, what’s your creative process like – where are you most inspired?
Washing dishes… seriously.
Has being twins benefited your career in any way?
I think being sisters definitely has helped us in the rough moments because you always know someone has your back. Also, sibling harmonies are just unlike anything else… twins or otherwise.
You did a gorgeous remake of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” on your album “Fire Songs.” Is it intimidating to remake such a powerful and famous song? Why did you chose this song and how did you go about re-doing it Watson Twins-style?
We were listening to the NPR station, WFPK, back home and the “Top 100 of all time “ came on… “Just like Heaven” was number 8. I was listening to the lyrics and they just struck me in a new amazing way (even though I had heard the song a million times). I learned the chords and when Chandra and I started to sing it, the tune just came out that way. It had a swampy cantor.
As kids, did you both love music? When did you realize you wanted to make music together, as a band?
We did, it’s always been our passion. We started singing together at 8 and just never stopped, our first band was in college… and we had a horrible band name… I’ll leave it at that.
Who influenced your love of music as kids? And, since you’re twins and both musical, do you feel like you might be a good example of nature over nurture…that you genetically have music in your DNA?
Hmmmmm, the nature/nurture is a hard one. I feel like it must be a combination of the 2. There was never anyone influencing our choice to do music, just encouraging. Our mom has great taste in music and having that around was definitely formative.
My favorite snack is: cheese (manchego) and crackers (and maybe some dried figs)
Don’t ask me to: skydive or bungee jump, I don’t like falling. Unless it’s in love!
I would put into a time capsule my: my favorite pair of cowboy boots
My favorite place is: home
When I have a creative block I: breathe
My favorite mantra is: patience and persistence… one day at a time.
Added this video in because I love this song – The Watson Twins with Jenny Lewis: