Below, you can read our interview with electro-folk-pop sisters-duo, The Ericksons, and listen to their album, Bring Me Home. Check out our full music review of Bring Me Home by The Ericksons, HERE.
Q: Your roots are in the beautiful and scenic LaCrosse, WI area. (We have roots near the area as well.) Tell us how LaCrosse has inspired your music?
A: Our music is definitely a beautiful soundtrack to driving through the river valley. Growing up in such a beautiful area has shaped us in so many ways, both with the music, but as people as well. We know so many uniquely creative people that grew up in LaCrosse and we are honored to be part of that crew.
Q: Which one of you is the “big” sister, and which one of you is the “littler” sister? And, how has/does that influence your musical relationship?
A: Bethany is three years older than me and we are shaped by these roles in pretty traditional ways. At the beginning of our career Bethany wrote most of the music and called the shots, and I was happy to sing harmonies and contribute creatively as needed. Now that we’ve been through a few fires together, we act collaboratively as equals, and the roles of big sister and little sister have slipped away.
Q: When did you individually—and then collectively—pick up musical instruments? Were you jamming together as kids?
A: As kids I would sing and Bethany would play the piano. A lot of show tunes were belted out in the family room. In high school we both learned guitar and learned every Ani Difranco cover we could. We always sang together as kids and listened to a lot of music together as kids. It was a focal point of our upbringing.
Q: What were your very first guitars? Do you still have/play them?
A: Mine was a Martin from Dave’s guitar shop. I brought my buddy Justin Kemp with me and we picked out the prettiest one we could find for around $1,000. I finally had a job and could spend a little on a guitar. Bethany’s first was a baby Taylor – such a gorgeous little beauty. I still play my Martin live. The baby Taylor has become a sweet writing/rehearsing acoustic.
Q: Were the two of you taught how to sing, or is your legendary harmony a natural talent?
A: Our harmony came out of hours and hours and hours of singing together in our apartment in Brooklyn. There is definitely an inherent and natural quality to our harmonies, but it didn’t just come. We worked on our collective voice constantly (just ask our roommates).
Q: It is our understanding that some pretty tough times galvanized the musical intentions of your duo. Can you tell us a bit about that? And, do those same factors still inspire the music, or are things different now?
A: Our music is and has always been about the contrast of the darkness and light of life. It drives us and inspires us. Life now is mostly light. We have amazing partners and kids and spend a lot of time laughing, parenting and living together. We would never be the musicians or people we are today without the losses we’ve lived. Our beautiful soul of a father died when we were young. I was 16 and Bethany was 19. Bethany’s first husband died seven years later. Life was tragic and so incredibly sad. But, that sadness molded us and made us realize in the deepest, truest sense that life is short and to do what we love. Live every day truly. These phrases are so cliche in our culture, but we’ve lived it. It’s real.
Q: If you can somehow describe it, how has motherhood inspired/changed/affected your music?
A: Oh man. MOTHERHOOD. What a huge, inspiring, bear of a topic. We love our children. They are so funny, smart and magical. Motherhood has affected us in such a huge way. We never sweat the small stuff, we play the shows that sound fun, and we LOVE playing together more than ever. Because we have 100% less time to play, when we are able to, it’s an ultimate gift.
Q: In Minnesota Original’s episode about the two of you, it was mentioned that you had collectively decided to take a little break from the music…but that music was still in the future. Where are you now, and what can fans be looking forward to in the future?
A: We’re in the middle of a nice long break… stay tuned!!!
Q: As a sibling duo, how do you write songs together, what does the process look like?
A: Often we write music separate from each other and then share. But with our last album “Bring Me Home,” a lot of those songs were written collaboratively in Bethany’s basement. I was really pregnant when we were writing that album. We would just sit for hours and play and play and play until a song came out of us. It was a really sacred time.
Q: “Bring Me Home” is a brave piece of work with its inclusion of more electronic elements that are also included in your live show with the addition of synth and loop pedal work. Were either of you at all apprehensive about making that transition?
A: It was such a fun transition! We’ve always loved electronic music and have both been so inspired by Radiohead. We love making beautiful sounds, more than succinct songs, if that makes sense. It was really fun to expand our sound in that way and work with a couple of badass musicians along the way. It was just fun.
Q: If you would be willing, could you tell us what inspired “Borderline”?
A: Yes. It was the coldest Spring in Minnesota. I was sitting in my apartment in Minneapolis and it just came. It’s about love, sadness, and ancient times. Feeling like your getting away with something—a heist. That first verse, “It’s gotta start here, it’s gotta be quick, we’ll leave in the night, swift and slick, it’s a two man job, you and me, just watch for cops and I will watch the street.” That’s all about me and Bethany. This music thing, like somehow we got away with having this other kind of life while everybody else was in grad schools and working “normal” jobs. We got to make music and we didn’t get busted!
Q: In some unspecified amount of time, your musical career explodes in the best of ways. What does that look like for both of you?
A: What a dream that would be! The ultimate dream would be to be able to play the best listening rooms in the country. To tour in the summers with our families. For our husbands to be road managers and for us to have so much fun on stage every night. We just played a show at Silverwood Park in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. There were 200 plus people there, and everybody was just listening, transfixed, really with us. If we could play a show like that every night, we’d be set.
Q: You get to collaborate with anyone of your choosing. Who is it?
A: Bethany would say Dangermouse. I would say Jeff Tweedy.
Q: Your favorite album of all time? (Yup, you gotta choose one.)
A: Bethany: Shawn Colvin “Fat City” Jenny: Radiohead “Hail to the Thief”
Q: Your favorite song of all time? (Again, only one!)
A: Bethany: Radiohead “Weird Fishes” Jenny: Whiskeytown “Avenues”
Q: Your favorite gig/venue of all time?
A: The Cedar Cultural Center
Q: What would you like fans to know about you that they’re most likely unaware of?
A: I sell flowers I grow on my farm at the St. Peter Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.