As they prepare for a hometown show after the release of their new album Holler, The Watson Twins reflect on how they got started, where they went and where they’re going.
Chandra and Leigh Watson are identical twins, performing Americana music under the band name the Watson Twins. Raised in Louisville, they grew up around a large punk-rock scene with lots of friends playing music around town and touring.
“It didn’t seem so scary,” Chandra said. “If our friends can do it, we can do it.”
Inspired by the creatives surrounding them, the twins started to make music at 16. They moved to Los Angeles to pursue becoming professional musicians after finishing college.
In LA, they met singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis. While the twins were in a band called Slydell shortly after moving to LA, they would often perform at the same shows as Lewis’s band at the time, Rilo Kiley. Lewis was the twins’ neighbor and invited them over to test out some new songs. But the testing turned into playing music together, which turned into the Watsons collaborating with Lewis.
“It was that instantaneous. We just clicked,” Chandra said.
“Our story rolled out from then,” said Leigh. As they were trying to balance day jobs with their pursuit of music, Leigh said that the relationship with Lewis felt “like a gift.”
The Watson Twins sang background vocals for Lewis on her first solo album titled Rabbit Fur Coat and joined her on tour. Around the same time, the twins released their first EP called Southern Manners.
Chandra and Leigh stayed in LA for a few more years, moving to Nashville about ten years ago.
Moving to Nashville opened up the door for many more opportunities to collaborate with artists and sing more background vocals. Along with Lewis, Chandra and Leigh have performed with artists like Willie Nelson, Kings of Leon and Harry Connick Jr.
“We try to be the fabric that the lead singer can rest upon,” Leigh said. “To showcase the music and be thoughtful in choosing how we present ourselves on stage we wear the same outfit and try to keep our voices neutral.”
Holler was released on June 23. The album takes a different direction than their past releases, leaning into their Southern roots from Kentucky and their current life in Nashville. Inspired by their 2022 single “Two Timin’,” the album teems with honky-tonk and country.
Rather than recording vocals and instruments separately, the album was recorded with the full band in the studio. Chandra says you can hear the energy coming through the song and that “magic is happening in real-time.”
The twins wanted to write an album that people could relate to, a fun album with heart and joy. “We’ve written enough sad songs,” Leigh said. “Let’s write some happy music. It’s wrapped in joy and the upbeat music makes you want to sing along, dance and smile.”
On the heels of their album release, the Watson Twins are performing at Waterfront Wednesday on June 28 with The Hold Steady and Turbo Nut. The twins say they’re honored to be playing the show and always take any opportunity to travel to their hometown. Holler can be streamed on streaming services, iTunes and their website. The Waterfront Wednesday concert starts at 6 p.m. and the doors open at 5 p.m.