Aside from their seriously amazing band name, Ireland’s Heathers have a very cool story. Twin sisters Ellie and Louise Macnamara started their band together at age 16, and are about to release their sophomore album, Kingdom. The girls have been studying music since they were six years old, and it shows in their strong songwriting. Their songs are emotional and anthemic, and the lyrics reveal depth and feeling.
Their love of music started early, but like many teenagers, they went through a shy and awkward phase. The two stopped singing, except when they could hide amongst the larger voice of their "wonderful" school choir. Luckily, they didn’t stop forever. We talked to Ellie, one half of the Dublin duo, about Beyonce, their creative process, and what it’s like to be in a band with your sister.
SDTC: When did you two first develop a love for music?
Ellie: When we were children, our parents played music all of the time. We listened to a lot of Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, the Cats the Musical soundtrack, and a lot of traditional Irish music.
Family gatherings always involved a big sing song where everyone would have to sing something…much to our horror! Our parents placed a big emphasis on music. At the age of 16 we started going to gigs. A lot of our friends were in bands so it was the normal thing to do….and we started Heathers.
SDTC: What about being sisters make it easier to be in a band together? What makes it harder?
Ellie: It’s great because we can be completely honest with each other, which makes it a lot easier to write and perform music. It’s also really nice to have your sister there when you’re away from home or having a bad day. On another note, we are sisters and like most siblings we argue from time to time. Spending every waking hour together can get to be a bit too much sometimes, but most of the time it’s great.
SDTC: What has surprised you the most about this whole experience?
Ellie: How nice people are. We’ve had so much support all over the world from people we’ve met .We’ve visited a lot of places and people are always so welcoming and kind!
SDTC: Who are your favourite musicians playing today? From the past?
Ellie: Our favourite musician today would definitely be Beyonce. People are generally surprised when they hear this. She’s incredible. She doesn’t try to be anyone but herself and she’s incredibly talented.
Our favourite musician from the past would be Paul Simon. As I previously mentioned, we grew up listening to him. We were lucky enough to get to see him play in Dublin last year as part of his 25 years of Graceland tour.
SDTC: Any favourite films, books, TV shows?
Ellie: Our favourite film would have to be Heathers. I think it’s self-explanatory!
My favourite books would have to be the complete Harry Potter collection.
Our favourite TV shows are Game of Thrones, Greys Anatomy and Love/Hate, which is a new Irish show.
SDTC: What’s the best live performance you’ve ever seen?
Ellie: Bruce Springsteen in Dublin in 2008. He played for 3 hours hours straight.
SDTC: If you could compare Heathers to an object or living thing, what would you compare it to?
Ellie: A book you’ve never read. You know that saying, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover?” I think sometimes it’s that way with us. People expect us to be two quiet girls singing softly but that’s not exactly how it is!
SDTC: Tell us about your creative process.
Ellie: Our creative process has changed and developed over time. Originally we wrote all of our music together on guitar. Recently, Louise has been experimenting with Logic. We write a lot of our music on synths now and Louise will work on the base of the track, we’ll both work on vocal melodies and I will work on lyrics. It varies though. It depends what mood we’re in. Every now and again we will go back to our ways of the two of us writing on Louise’s guitar.
SDTC: Any advice for other young musicians out there?
Ellie: Stick with it and believe in yourself. Most of all enjoy it. That’s the most important thing.
Kingdom comes out April 16th.