Falk: Ordinary girls, famous musicians–how they do it all

This article was originally posted May 3, 2010 by the Hard News Café.

By Paul Lewis Siddoway

Recently, I got to interview the sisters Falk, some local girls who just signed with a management company in New York, about their experiences in the music industry. The company they’re with isn’t their first. They’ve had international hits since before they were teenagers.

However, they are really excited to be doing what they love and have their music under their own control. They’ve struggled with everything from record deals falling through to boys, and throughout everything they’ve been through, the one thing they’ve always had is each other.

“We can cry together, we can laugh together, we can celebrate together; we go through it all together,” the older sister Alexa said. “So she’s the only one who knows and has been there for all of the ups and downs.”

They are recording a new album, hoping to get picked up by a big label. Either way, they’re hoping to have their new album out by the end of the summer.

Check out http://falk.fm/ for more information.

Hard News Cafe: So you say you have been country and pop, what would you say you are now?

Alexa: I’d say Pop Rock Acoustic.

Natalee: It’s kind of a combination of everything we’ve done, which is really funny because it’s like we’re coming full circle and everything we’ve gone through and we’re now a blended version of all that. And it’s actually pretty cool, I mean it’s right up our alley of what we write naturally and what kind of production style we like, so it’s working out for us.

HNC: Who do would you say is a big influence on your sound or even why you want to be musicians?

N: It’s a lot easier looking at it from the outside than it actually is when you’re on the inside. Ever since I was younger I’ve always looked up to Shania Twain as an influence. My mom spotted a talent in Alexa and I musically when we were really young, so she started the ball rolling and we got into private lessons and ever since then we kind of did it as a hobby and then we took it on our own when we had hits in Brazil when we were 8 and 10. So that’s when we started really pursuing the music career.

HNC: What was that like? How did that even happen?

A: Honestly, we were so young that it was kind of surreal to us. I began writing when I was 8 and I actually won the songwriter’s competition for Utah. I was the No. 1 songwriter here and because of that, have you ever heard of SHeDAISY? We were country at the time, so we hooked up with their producer, I started with him, he was submitting music to other artists overseas and they happened to choose five of our songs and we were 10 and 8 at the time. It started then until when I was 13 or 14, we started getting platinum records, No. 1 across the country. It was crazy.

N: They were in movies, they were in dance clubs; it was crazy. And we’d get this concert footage. We had no idea until all of a sudden it hit us. We were watching the concert footage and this song that we wrote called “My Sweet Someday” came on and this entire stadium of people was bawling their lighters and I remember being 13. It really hit us then. When we were 8 and 10 we didn’t realize.

A: Like what? This is what it is? And being in Utah, we’ve had friends that would go on missions and say, “Yeah, I know that singer. What? You wrote that song?” It was really funny. So it kind of happened that way, and that’s when the industry really took us seriously. We never got into this to be celebrities, famous, anything like that. We loved music, and because of the success we had when we were younger it kind of catapulted us into the business and it was nuts from then on out.

HNC: How does it make you feel to have other artists playing your songs?

N: It’s very surreal. It’s a weird experience to watch, but it’s very cool.

A: Now that we’re old enough to appreciate it, it’s kind of a surreal feeling knowing that there are millions of people who know certain songs that I have written. I remember when I went to Berklee College of Music I was in class and I played one of the songs that I had written and one of these girls was from Brazil and she said, “Oh my God, that helped me get through high school.” And I said, “What?” So that’s what we do it for. We do music because we have a message that we love to get out to people and that’s what we’re in it for and that’s what we’re able to do now with what we’re doing with this new management company and new labels that are interested, so it’s kind of been a journey.

HNC: So where do you want it to go from here?

N: Well, obviously we’d love to have this record that we’re doing now become successful. And spread the FALK name.

A: We’ve had success in Brazil, like we said, but we really want to take this on our own and have success ourselves here in the U.S. and obviously we want to go on tour and do all that, really expanding our name and continuing recording really great music doing what we love.

HNC: As far as touring goes, aren’t you both students? Which takes a priority?

A: We’ve been really lucky throughout our school lives. Our teachers kind of knew what we did. I graduated from high school early and I was able to online courses as I was attending high school, so when we went on tour, back then, I was able to move to L.A. for a couple of months.

N: It’s so weird to think you were like 13.

A: I was 14 when we first went on tour and I was able to take that time out and do online classes to finish. Here in college we actually work with the guitar program and they’re really great about letting us travel and still earn credit and make up credit and come back and be regular students, but its kind of living a double life.

N: It’s like we’re straddling a fence; one life is being normal. No one would have any idea as to what we do and then another life was in this crazy other world. So it’s kind of a balancing act. But it’s been how our lives have been.

HNC: So are both going into guitar?

N: We’re both trying to learn more about the guitar. I mean, we’re self-taught, but they have a really great program up here, so we’re in the process of learning more about the guitar to help accompany our voices. Obviously we sing, we write and all that so I wouldn’t say guitar is my main focus, but I definitely love to have that skill to play on stage.

A: And USU has actually a really great guitar program. I went to Berklee College of Music. It’s one of the top music schools ever, and the program here is so much more specific.

N: It focuses more on you.

A: It focuses on the individual person and expanding your talents and expanding your knowledge of what you’re trying to learn, versus the school that I went to.

N: There was this standard.

A: So it’s kind of funny. It actually works out to be here and do back and forth.

HNC: Is that why you chose Logan? Is that why you are at Utah State?

A: No. I was in Boston, she came here for a semester; we were taking a
little break, figuring out what we wanted to do, because we had done music our whole lives and we actually got a deal offered to us, so we were packed up and ready to go to New York. We were about to lease an apartment, we were signing a contract with an independent label and then our attorney said, “You can’t do it. Don’t sign it. He’s going to take all of your rights, we have majors interested. Hold off. Give me another 6 months to a year.” So it kind of worked out perfectly, because our family is here. We said, “You know what, let’s take this time and figure out who we want to be, what we want to do, what’s our direction.” And since then, it feels like it’s all kind of fallen into place.

N: It’s worked out nicely, because being up here, there’s a PR class that bases their class around our music and expanding our name, so now that we’re up here we in the guitar program, but they’re also booking us concerts and we’re getting our name out here and taking a break from….

A: Not taking a break, but more on the business side, letting the New York guys handle it. And then now that we’re finishing school, we’re going to be way more involved, going back and forth to New York.

HNC: Would you say that now you are just kind of involved in the creative process, where you just write the songs and you let someone else worry about the booking and everything else?

N: To an extent. We’re super hands on.

A: Sometimes it’s like that, but for the most part we’re very involved in almost everything we do. Everything that comes through, Natalee and I have to add the stamp of approval.

N: Even production. We love to be involved. We love to write the music, but we also have a vision for where we want it to go. So we’re always either e-mailing back and forth or through Skype or conference calls, constantly talking to the other side.

A: Or we’re in New York a lot. Once school’s done, we’re going to be, weeks at a time, back in New York finishing production of some new music and whatnot. It’s going to be good.

HNC: How involved are you in the local music scene?

N: Surprisingly, Logan doesn’t have a very big music scene, but for what they do have, we have done pretty much everything. I mean, we actually haven’t played at Why Sound, but we’ve done the small Poetry and a Beverage out here, we did any concert that comes like Secondhand Serenade, Kalai, Peter Breinholt; we opened for all of those guys. There’s a performing arts school that’s opening up now and I think we’re going to do a couple shows there. Anytime we hear about a show. Yeah, we’re pretty involved with the music scene.

A: We like to play and it’s been really nice, because when we were younger it was a lot more emphasis on the commercial aspect of “we can sell you because you are sisters. You’re cute. You’re a duo. We can do the Disney thing.” It was a lot more about the superficial what will sell, and now it’s a lot more about what we have to say and our message and playing to people who are our age that really get what we’re about.

HNC: Do you feel like your music has a message? Do you feel like you would like to say something particular?

A: With being a songwriter mainly, with every song that we write definitely has a message. Whether it’s about us, whether it’s about someone we know, whether it’s about a specific event. Pretty much our music helps us deal with life, and if it helps anyone else in the process, all the better. Truly, for me to say we do music to help everyone else, that would be a lie. We do music to help ourselves. If we didn’t have music, we wouldn’t be able to wake up in the morning. That’s what gets us through the day, and if other people identify with that and can grasp that, then that’s what helps them too, then it’s th s momentum that keeps everyone going and we love it. I don’t know how else to say it. It’s what keeps us going.

HNC: Yeah. Do you ever feel like it’s hard to come up with songs, or do you just say, “Today I heard a funny story and I’m going to write a song about what I think about that”?

N: I can attest for her, because honestly, anything you’re feeling or going through or whatever, she just snaps. It’s like a spark of inspiration and she says, “I’m ready to write.” It’s her way of dealing with things and I’m getting more into the songwriting, but she definitely is not, “OK, let’s sit down and write a song.” It comes to you. So when it comes, you write it.

A: It’s true. My first song I ever wrote was on the back of an envelope in my grandma’s car, and I ended up winning multiple awards at 8 years old. I never know when it hits, it kind of flows through me. When you go through a day, how many emotions do you feel? How many people do you see that spark a different memory? I remember this memory, or I’m excited or I’m sad or I’m angry or I’m upset.

N: And there’s so many ways to write about one emotion, and so it’s like the songs are endless.

A: From one boy you’re dating, there are thousands of songs about every little angle of it.

N: It’s kind of pathetic.

A: It is pathetic, but great music.

HNC: As your name gets a little bigger, do you feel like it’s a little weirder to date?

N: Dating has never been an issue for us either way. It’s harder when you’re traveling and everything, of course.

A: That would be the hard thing. We’re so sporadic.

N: No, I like to date.

HNC: Well, yeah.

N: I get what you mean.

A: It is weird. We don’t talk about it to people we first meet. People have no idea it we’ve done certain things or whatever, but if they ask us or, this is really random, but if you go on a date with someone, sometimes people Google their name. I don’t know if you do that, but I’ve had people Google my name and they say, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t know you were signed with Warner Bros.”

N: They become a little more intimidated. I would say a lot of boys are intimidated by us.

A: And it’s hard because we do want to date and we’re not scary at all. The fact that we play guitar and we’ve done stuff and we’re tall… I don’t know. I don’t know. Some people say, “I’m staying away.”

HNC: So you think it’s actually harder for the guys who want to date you instead of yourselves?

N: Definitely.

A: For sure.

N: I mean on the other end, though, for us it’s, “OK, well why won’t you date us?”

A: For us, we sit and go, “What’s wrong with us?”

N: But then we find out they’re scared out of their minds.

A: We sit and do the whole, “Well, what did I… What’s wrong? What did we do?”

N: “Did I say something wrong?”

A: A few years later we’ll find out, “I wanted to ask you out so bad, but you were so tall and you guys are always playing.”

N: I mean, honestly, I hated my high school, and then the second I graduated, everyone said, “I was so scared to talk to you. I couldn’t. You’re such a super star.” I’m normal. You can talk to me.

A: Parts of it are rough, but I mean I guess it comes with what we like to do.

HNC: What would you say is the hardest part about writing music?

A: About writing music? I would say getting everyone to agree on what the single is, for sure. Well, not what the single is, but once you write the music, I would say the hardest part is production and how everyone agrees how it should sound. Does that make sense?

HNC: Like the mixing and the leveling kind of stuff?

A: The mixing, the leveling…

N: And also the different styles of music you like. So maybe the producer likes it more poppy and we say, “No we want a little more acoustic sound.” Or if she wants a little more rock, it’s like trying to mix all those elements to make it represent the song the best. That’s the hardest part, but it’s also the funnest part. I want to be a producer.

A: It’s true. She’s great. She is going to be a Grammy-winning producer. She’s got a kick-ass ear for sure. I write the music and she knows exactly what to do with it.

HNC: So is that eventually where you want to go? Eventually you want to go to more of the production side?

N: I definitely want to do production. I love turning a song from nothing and making it a big ordeal. Yeah. Definitely.

A: She’s really good at it, too. Even now on her little Mac.

N: Oh stop.

A: I’m being nice to you. Don’t you like it?

HNC: What kind of advice do you have for local musicians? Not everyone can have a mother who can recognize that you’re prodigies. Here, go be superstars.

A: Well, I would say do not get into this business if you are not a die-hard. You have to do it because it can be so brutal. It will take everything you believe in and will turn it out and change it completely and unless you know exactly who you are and what you want to say, it’s a tough business to be in. Music is all opinion based. Who’s to say what’s a great song versus what’s a bad song? So it can be very political, but I would say make sure you love it before you get into it.

N: I wouldn’t scare the living daylights of them by saying, “Never get into this business,” but I would say know who you are, know what music you love, and stick with it, because there are so many opinions in this music business that a lot of people will tell you, “Yeah, you have to be this and then you’ll make it. Or you have to be this and then you’ll make it.” We did that. We did the rat race and we followed everything. Finally we came back to what we love, and now it’s all working because it’s true to us. So do what’s true to yourself and then everything will as planned.

A: That’s very true.

N: If it’s not true to who you are, then I probably wouldn’t do it.

A: I’d sum it up by saying believe in yourself. If you’re going to do it, just believe in yourself.

HNC: Where can people go to get new information about shows and stuff?

N: Right now we’re in the middle of getting our website up, but the MySpace is up and running.

A: Actually, the fastest way to do it is if you go to http://falk.fm/ I think it brings you right to the MySpace page. Everything we’re doing now is getting ready. We used to be in the band Faces Without Names, and so all of our online stuff is still kind of Faces Without Names.

N: We’re still transitioning. We have certain Falk sites up, but within this month, they’ll be finalized, ready to go.

HNC: And that’ll have concert updates?

A: And it’ll have links to our Faces Without Names site, where you can buy music and merch and whatnot. We still have that stuff available. Until we get this new CD pressed, that’s what we’re using.

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