Perhaps no musical act exemplifies the opportunities afforded by today’s music industry model more than Lily & Madeleine. In an era that readily facilitates do-it-yourself distribution and promotion, the sisters (last name Jurkiewicz) initially garnered exposure via YouTube. While still in high school, the Indiana-based duo uploaded videos to the site and a career was born. Earlier this year, Lily & Madeleine released Keep It Together (New West Records), a 10-track collection that offers a more sophisticated, layered sound than on previous outings.
On Wednesday, October 12, the duo returns to Birmingham to perform at Iron City as the supporting act for Brett Dennen. Recently, the sisters spoke via phone from Indianapolis as they prepared for the current leg of their tour.
Weld: You two are seen as the prime of example of technology’s impact on music and the benefits of self-releasing content through modern outlets. With that said, some artists say the current musical climate presents a set of challenges as well. How do you reconcile the pros and cons of technology’s place in music?
Lily Jurkiewicz: We are in the time we are in right now and it’s great. I don’t really know any different. If YouTube wasn’t around, we may not even have a career. It is more difficult to get yourself heard when there’s a huge crowd of people putting out content, but it makes it more special when you find something that you really love. Also, you can take inspiration from people that are putting out new things. It’s good and bad but it’s mostly good.
Weld: Your current tour that brings you to Birmingham finds you in an acoustic setting rather than a full-band setting. How do you approach your songs with only the two of you onstage?
Lily Jurkiewicz: I think a full band makes the set more dynamic because we can add and remove bits and pieces. When Madge and I play as a duo, it’s like we have no other options than to play guitar and piano on every single song. But it’s cool because it makes the songs more lyrically focused and it allows us to create our own dynamics within that simple setup.
Weld: How do your songs stay fresh and relevant to you after you have performed them literally hundreds of times?
Lily Jurkiewicz: I think that there’s a moment, when you’ve played a song over and over, that it becomes really comfortable and it’s easy to go off into your own world while singing it and not recognize the words coming out of your mouth. So it’s a nice experiment to go onstage and be really present in the moment with a song and, in your mind, travel back to where you were when you wrote the lyrics.
Weld: You have a unique situation in that you can forge your careers as sisters. If you will, talk about the opportunity to experience this musical life with each other.
Madeleine Jurkiewicz: Lily and I don’t know what it would be like to do it without each other. It makes touring really easy because we share clothes and we can share a bed and a bathroom — we share everything. I’m glad I get to do it with my sister because we are on the same page on just about everything. We have similar life experiences, so that makes writing easy. It’s like a family vacation when you hop in the car and drive a million miles.
Lily & Madeleine will perform at Iron City on Wednesday, October 12. The show begins at 8 p.m. For more information, visit ironcitybham.com.