Interview: San Francisco's folk-pop duo The Keller Sisters
Hailing from San Francisco, the folk-pop duo the Keller Sisters offer some of the year's warmest harmonies and roots-drenched melodies. The band, consisting of real-life siblings Sheryl and Kerry, have just released their debut EP, Shine, and what a refreshing break it is from the testosterone-fueled Americana scene. The Keller Sisters discussed how family played a significant role in their musical development.
Q: When did you and your sister begin to sing together?
A: We were very young. Our house was filled with music as that is how our mom made her living. She would vocalize at the piano, and we would join her as far back as I can remember. We actually just found a picture of Kerry sitting at the piano at two-years-old. We were in glee club and choir all through school and were always working out the harmony parts to whatever was on the radio at the time. The Beatles and the Everly Brothers were favorites. Used to drive my dad nuts in the car on long trips.
Q: Was your family musically active? Describe the environment in which you two were raised.
My mother's stage name was Eileen Christy. She was a film and musical theater star, handpicked by Richard Rogers to do the revival of Carousel with John Raitt at the Lincoln Center. She worked with some of the most talented performers of that era and was amazing. The house was always filled with music as she rehearsed every day. She toured for a few months every year and in the summer we would hit the road with my dad and brother to join her. Hung out in theaters and watched and learned. When we were 11 and 13 we joined her onstage in The Sound of Music. She wanted us to head in that direction musically but by then we had guitars and our own ideas. Our song " That Room " is about this time in our lives. .
Q: How did the new EP come about? Is this your first release?
We have been performing with a rock and blues band for years. While it is fun we missed the joy of the acoustic performances we had done when we were young. I started writing songs and we tried them out at open mics. They seemed to go down well so we decided to start playing in the duo configuration again. We had always wanted to record something and now armed with original tunes it seemed like the perfect time. Yes, this is our first EP, and we had so much fun making it that we have already scheduled the next one.
Q: Do you both write songs? How does the writing process work between you two?
I ( Sheryl) write the music and lyrics to all of our songs currently. I do a lot of rewriting, and I usually will not present the song to Kerry until it is well on its way. Kerry has an amazing ear, and if she likes the way it is sounding then we both start working on arrangement and feel. This year we would like to try writing some songs together.
Q: Who would you like to work with?
Well, the first person that springs to mind is Bonnie Raitt. We have been listening to and singing her music since her first album and have felt a connection. Our mom worked with her dad several times over the years and we have always loved her music .We listen to all kinds of music from jazz to bluegrass and are inspired by so many artists and genres but a trip to " Daryl's House " would be a gas.
Q: The hardest part of being a musician?
A: We have always had music in our lives so the hardest part would be not being able to play. It is the most wonderful outlet and makes us so happy. It is difficult to balance with full time day jobs with writing and gigs but other than that it is all good. I will say that shlepping the PA has lost its appeal over the years.
Q: What do you hope people come away with after listening to Shine?
A: When we sit back and realize that a year ago this was a dream and now we have this music captured forever. It is surreal. We are loving this time in our lives, both personally and musically and are hoping that the songs touch people and make them smile. We actually decided to title the EP Shine after the song of course, but also we feel that after so many years of doing other people's music, it is our time to shine. Our only regret is that our mom and dad are not here to share this with us . They would have loved it.