Meet Facing West
Haven't heard of Facing West? You should! This up-and-coming, dynamic sister duo is taking the music world by storm with their unique covers, creative originals, and goosebump-inducing harmonies. Sidney and Caitlin Powell each play multiple instruments, including the ukulele and U•Bass, their favorites being the Solid Spruce Travel Tenor Ukulele and the Fretless Solid Spruce Mahogany U•Bass. Check out our exclusive interview with these talented sisters.
Q: How did you get started playing music? Is the rest of your family musical?
A: We’ve been singing for as long as we can remember! Our mom is an incredible singer, but she won't sing in front of anyone. When we were kids and we went on long car trips, she would always play games with us to see who could write the best harmonies or hit the highest notes. Those are some of our favorite memories! We started playing guitar at ages 9 (Sidney) and 12 (Caitlin). Our guitar teacher Don Russo always had these awesome recitals, he would rent out bars or restaurants on Sunday afternoons and really let us experience what it would really be like to be a musician. After our first recital, we were hooked. The rest is history!
Q: How were you first introduced to Kala and U•Bass? How do they fit with your band's sound? How have they influenced your style?
A: We were in a little mom-and-pop music shop right outside of Denver looking for microphones to use at one of our first performances. They had a Kala U•Bass hanging on the wall and we spent all the time we should have been looking for mics playing around with it and we fell in love! We travel a lot to shoot music videos and we hike into a lot of locations, so the U•Bass provided us with a huge bass sound that we could get on planes and hikes with!
The ukulele really brought out a vulnerable side of us. Somehow, those 4 strings can portray such incredible emotion. Nothing brings out raw emotion quite like a ukulele and it changed the way we write!
Q: Who/what are your influences?
A: There have been so many incredible artists that have influenced us! NeedtoBreathe definitely comes to mind, they released an amazing album called “The Outsiders” a couple of years before we started playing. The songs they wrote and the lyrics they sang really connected with us. We love their use of acoustic instruments and the soul their voices have. We are also inspired by Imagine Dragons! The way they pair stringed instruments with epic beats really helped us form a direction for our sound to go in and a lot of those aspects are definitely present in our new original music. And we can't leave out Twenty One Pilots! Their lyrics are so honest and raw, and the music is epic. They have this ability to make you feel like you're not facing any of your struggles alone. That's absolutely a factor we want to have in our music, having a song to lean on when things get hard changes everything.
Q: Describe your songwriting process. What inspires your songs?
A: Our songs are inspired by things we are facing in our lives, a book, movie, or quote that really hits home. Even a single word we run across that we can't get out of our heads can become a song! Sometimes one of us will start humming a melody and a word just seems to fit as the hook line, and we write a story from there. Other times we will talk through the story we want to tell until the words start to find a rhythm. Every song happens differently! Some are written in an hour, others need a couple months to find their way. We also love writing with other people, there is something amazing about getting to see different views of a single concept. It really gives the song depth when you build a story from multiple perspectives.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your cover EP, "Footnotes." And what can we expect from your upcoming original EP?
A: Over the summer we have been working on 10 new songs; 5 covers and 5 originals. We started working with the incredible guys with Double J music right after we got home from our first trip to Nashville in July. We discussed probably 10 or 15 different songs for the EP and started to narrow it down to 3 of our favorite current songs and 2 of our favorite throwbacks. We had so much fun finding ways to put our Facing West spin on the songs! We recorded them ourselves in our studio above the garage and got them mixed and mastered at Side 3 Studios and started filming the videos. Working with Double J on the release has been amazing and we've gotten on some cool playlists, so we are really excited to have “Footnotes” out and see what it can do!
The upcoming original music is really exciting! We flew out to Nashville to work with our amazing producer David Spencer and he took all those big dramatic beats and melodies we had been dreaming of and brought them to life! I think the new music will show a side of us people haven't seen before but it's the perfect sound for us to really take a step forward with. We got to write with amazing writers as well! David wrote with us on every track and we also got to work with Jona Sherwood who is AMAZING! We wanted our new stuff to be raw and honest, for people to hear these songs and get to know us through them. We want to sing about real things we all face everyday so we can come together and figure this whole life thing out. The EP is full of big dramatic beats, acoustic instruments, and lots of harmonies. We can't wait to show everyone what we've been working on!
Q: What was your favorite part of recording in Nashville? How does it compare to recording in your home state?
A: There is something special about the atmosphere in Nashville! Music is everywhere and the energy is infectious. We got to work with insanely talented people and experienced a bunch of new things. And we can't leave out the fireflies! There are few things more magical than a summer evening with tons of glittering fireflies!
We love recording at home in Colorado too. Our journey as a band started in Denver and the people we're working with have been involved since the beginning!
Q: Why did you decide to launch a YouTube Channel? What is your creative process behind the videos?
A: We toured around the west in the summer of 2015 and had so much fun, but we noticed that after a show ended it was really hard to stay in touch with the audience we played for. We started posting our first videos that Fall and loved the fact that we could connect not only with people in our region or country, but with people all over the world! We get to share our passion and love for music with people who would never be able to make it to the shows and festivals we play. Using social media, we get the chance to connect with so many different people and cultures! We want to find beautiful places to share with our supporters. We love finding ways to capture the emotions in the songs we write and cover in vistas, horizons, and cityscapes.
Q: Did you expect to get such a large following on Instagram and Facebook in such a short amount of time?
A: We are absolutely humbled by the insane growth we've seen online! This whole thing started as a Christmas gift to our mom, she just wanted us to sing a song together. At that point, we didn't get along in the slightest but we've matured and now we get along. Sometimes (haha!). Now, we have to admit that she was right about us doing this together. We're seeing our wildest dreams come true and it's all because of our incredible supporters, it’s been so insane!
Q: How did you come up with the band name Facing West?
A: We started out as a band called Two Girls With Guitars, but our dad is a businessman and he said to keep it simple, so we did. After we started adding more instruments to our repertoire and realized that our band name was absolutely awful, we started the long process of changing it. We are pretty sure that was one of the most difficult things we've ever had to do for our music. After hundreds of over-thought and over-complicated names and hours of brain storming in our living room, it finally happened! We moved to Colorado from the east coast and our house faces one of the many “14ers” (14,000 ft mountains) in Colorado. So, in one of the many silent contemplative moments, our dad looked out the window and said, "Isn't it cool that we're Facing West now?” After much excited screaming we told him that was it, that's the band name!
Q: What projects are you currently working on? Do you have anything planned for the coming year?
A: We are currently working on filming and releasing videos for all the songs on “Footnotes.” We finished recording everything for the original EP in August so now we are working with David Spencer to wrap up production. We are also working on acoustic versions for all 5 new original songs. We're always writing, working on new demos and recording new covers. We will be releasing the first new original in October and the rest of them will come out one at a time over 2018 along with new covers and live streams. We are so excited about 2018 and everything to come!
Find out more about Facing West on their website, here.
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