Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing.
Hollow Twin combines haunting vocals and thoughtful lyrics in a musical collaboration between Becky Wosk and Emmalee Watts. I talked to them about their creative process, their sources of inspiration and how they recharge their creative batteries.
Becky tells me that the pair first met while they were living on a mountain in North Vancouver while going to university. She continues, “We bonded because we were lonely. We only really had each other because our families were in the Fraser Valley. We just started playing covers together on acoustic guitar and from there it just naturally progressed into us writing. We became Chatterton Eve and then changed our name to Hollow Twin.”
Emmalee adds, “In terms of exactly how we started making music together, I remember very vividly when Becky and I started being friends, she sent me a clip of her singing. I had just gone through a really bad breakup and she wanted to cheer me up, so she sent me a clip of her singing. I immediately was like, “Holy shit! Your voice is so beautiful.” I told her that we should jam some time because I had my guitars and piano.”
Both of them are informed by the music of the 1960’s and ‘70s as well as more modern sounds. Emmalee explains, “Becky’s very into Fleetwood Mac and I’m very into Led Zeppelin. We’re influenced by any music from that era whether it’s rock, soul or blues. In terms of newer stuff, we’re both influenced by more folky sounds like First Aid Kit and Gregory Alan Isakov.”
The creative process for Hollow Twin starts with Becky writing lyrics and sometimes melodies. She says, “It depends on what I’m feeling or going through. Sometimes I’ll have chord progressions and send them to Emmalee and ask her if they work and we’ll build upon that. There’s also times where Emmalee will have a complete song composed and it just needs lyrics. We kind of complete each other that way.”
Emmalee points out that it’s a very equal collaboration in terms of how the songs come together.
Their latest EP The River Saw Everything is a very personal set of songs for Becky. She says, “Most of the songs were written this year and then recorded this year as well. They were super fresh because my stepfather had been diagnosed with cancer almost exactly a year ago. He rapidly became more and more ill, so I took compassionate care leave off of work and stayed with my mom to take care of him. I was in Chiliwack, I was away from my life, I was completely surrounded by care aids for two months. Compared to other people, it’s nothing but it was pretty significant for me to see this person that I loved and admired just fade away.”
She continues, “I was just writing a lot when I had the time because it’s one of the most cathartic things for me. In Chilliwack the rivers, forests and mountains are so beautiful that it was easy to write with those visual cues. We got a couple of grants. We got a Creative B.C., B.C. Music Fund grant, we got a FACTOR grant and we decided to work with Jonathan Anderson. We recorded all through the summer and it was great. He has a studio that used to be a farm before he converted it. There’s a chicken coop, there’s a cats and there’s bunnies. It was super fun.”
The main challenge for Hollow Twin has been fully defining their sound as a band. Emmalee elaborates, “Up until this point, it has been finding our sound and also finding people such as producers who can help us develop our sound and foster what we already have to offer and make it into something more.”
Becky adds, “Sometimes it’s really hard to communicate our ideas, so to find someone who intuitively and instinctively can pick up on them has been hard. We’ve found some amazing people to work with though which has been great.”
Another challenge for the duo has been breaking through and getting recognized. Becky says, “There’s a handful of ‘in’ bands at the time and they get most of the recognition. They deserve that recognition because they’re wonderful musicians but the rest of us kind of fall by the wayside.”
Emmalee says, “If you’re not part of that group, you’re on your own.”
On a more positive note, Becky says, “We are fortunate to be part of a couple of groups and organizations that are all about supporting each other. One of them is exclusively for females in the music industry and it's been really amazing to be able to be a part of such a receptive, supportive, and kind group of women.”
As for their future plans, they intend to keep expanding their reach. Becky says, “We want to continue recording. I don’t know if an LP is really something we want to do in the near future, but another EP would be really great in the next couple years. We really want to tour Canada, at least western Canada, and maybe down into Oregon and Washington. We want to just continue working on our songwriting.”
Becky and Emmalee have their own ways of recharging their creative batteries. Emmalee explains,“I recharge like any writer or artist by reading, by listening to music and observing things. I just listen to as much different music as I can and it subconsciously feeds into the font of inspiration that I draw from when the time comes.”
Becky says, “For me, after a project or when I really need some energy I just need to be alone. I need to figure out what I’m feeling and thinking. I need to calm myself down and chill out for a little bit.”
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on November 29, 2017:
I've never heard of Hollow Twin before. They sound good. I'll check them out.