Shook Twins play music that twines through your soul

Portland indie-folk-pop duo have a new album and play in Olympia Saturday

Contributing writerMay 2, 2014 

Identical twin sisters Katelyn and Laurie Shook moved from Sandpoint, Idaho, to Portland. They said the rain, grayness and being around other musicians has changed their music.

COURTESY PHOTO

The Shook Twins, playing Saturday in Olympia, started out with a penchant for quirky, sunny folk songs.

Then identical twin sisters Katelyn and Laurie Shook moved from Sandpoint, Idaho, to Portland, and the weather got them.

“We used to call ourselves quirky folk, in the sense that quirky means unexpected,” Laurie Shook said in a telephone interview. “We’ve kind of grown out of that. It doesn’t really encompass the serious, more eerie and heartfelt stuff we do as well.

“Definitely moving to Portland has changed and influenced our music in that way,” she said. “Being surrounded and inspired by so many musicians has changed my taste in music. We’re really drawn to the indie-pop-folk scene in Portland, (to music) with a lot of texture and a lot of ambient eerie background vocals.

“And then there’s just the rain and the grayness.”

If the twins’ music is grayer these days, the outlook for their career is bright: Their third album, “What We Do,” released in April, was produced by Grammy nominee Ryan Hadlock, known for his work with The Lumineers and Brandi Carlile. They recently signed with booking agency New Frontier, which also represents The Avett Brothers. They’ve been featured in USA Today and Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and they’re drawing accolades from such well-known fans as author Neil Gaiman and Laura Veirs.

“I love the harmonies of the Shook Twins, the dreamlike songs that seem somehow permeated by the American folk tradition without actually being part of it,” Gaiman is quoted as saying on the Twins’ website. “They make music that twines through your soul the way vines cover an abandoned shack in the woods.”

The twin’s harmonies are one of the band’s hallmark features. “It definitely comes naturally because we have the same DNA and the same vocal cords, so it works out really well,” Shook said.

The sisters also sang in choir from fifth grade through the start of college, but didn’t begin learning instruments until the end of high school.

“I consider my voice to be my main instrument, and I like to experiment with the voice,” she said.

But the sisters definitely are into experimenting with other instruments, too. Take the golden egg that they were given in Seattle in 2010.

The egg — about 18 inches tall and made, Shook said, of “magic” — so inspired her that she loaded it with popcorn kernels, creating a giant shaker egg. She’s also added a contact microphone to the egg, so it can double as a drum.

And she uses a telephone microphone. “It’s an awesome sound,” she said. “It’s like when you are watching TV and someone’s talking on the phone — very low fi and kind of walkie-talkie-ish.”

On this tour, the twins and the rest of the band — Niko “Slice” Daoussis on mandolin and electric guitar, drummer Russ Kleiner, violinist Anna Tivel and bassist Kyle Volkman — are traveling with their own trees – which seems to indicate they’ve preserved their quirky side.

“We strapped some trees to the back of the bus, and we create a little forest on stage for ourselves,” Shook said.

Shook Twins

What: The Portland indie-folk-pop band will play an intimate show in Olympia. The Pine Hearts open.

When: Doors open at 8 p.m. Saturday; show starts at 9 p.m.

Where: Olympia Ballroom, 116 Legion Way SW, Olympia

Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 at the door (only cash is accepted at the door)

More information: brownpapertickets.com/event/602754 or olympiaballroom.com

Also: The show is open to all ages. There will be a bar for those 21 and older.

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