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#PopularPlay: KTJ & Carly


Jun 25, 2020

From Chloe Halle to Tegan and Sarah, the music industry has gifted us with beloved sister duos. Now on the radar, an up-and-coming act known as KTJ & Carly, have been named Artists to Watch in 2020. And rightfully so, the 19-year-old identical twins prove their place on the music watchlist with the single release of “Otherside.” What can be described as a stripped-down, sad girl summer anthem, KTJ & Carly’s emotive vocals will leave you breathless. 

Otherside” is an examination of not only relationships but “could be stemmed from so many different things,” Carly explains, such as “death, injustice, separation, anxiety, etc.” The track is orchestrated with harmonic melodies, lyrical intensity, and swelling piano instrumentals to illustrate the unfortunate reality of living with a broken heart. 

Despite the 2020 hardships, the girls have persevered and were recently hand-selected to play NAMM Dynaudio Unheard 2020, signed to score their first feature film, God Save The Queens, and will be performing PrideFest, a live stream benefit concert supporting LGBTQ+ organizations. 

This is only the beginning of KTJ & Carly. So please, follow alongside their career as well as Popular’s exclusive interview where the girls spill on working as twin sisters in the music industry, their transition from Texas to Los Angeles, and the story of how “Otherside” transpired. 

1. Tell us about your latest release, “Otherside,” and how it came to be.
Carly: We were just hanging in our apartment before quarantine started, actually about to leave somewhere. I was sitting there waiting for KT to get ready to leave and started playing at the piano. This song came really fast, I literally wrote the lyrics in ten minutes. I felt inspired by a break up a while back with someone in the past; at the time I was having a hard time finding songs and such to relate to. This had been weighing on me for a bit and I felt like I just needed to get this out, and not really for myself. I wanted someone else who went through something like that to have this song. So I just decided, let’s just write it ourselves. 

After that, during quarantine, I printed out the chords and lyrics out and set it up on the piano in our living room in Texas so I could record on my phone simultaneously, just to have it for fun. Then, a day later KT came to me, “I just completely switched up the progressions and structure of this song that was sitting on the piano come check it out.” The way I had started this was very different. Then when we both messed around with it, we completely changed it. Goes to show that we work way better together! The only melody we kept from the original foundation was the chorus, but even then, it was in a completely different key. Then we made a small production of it, recorded it in our bedrooms and then the song was born! We were planning on just keeping it as a demo and developing it more, but we just loved the stripped-down version we made. We also felt this was a good time to release this song because of everything that is going on in the world right now, seeing that this song can relate to much more than relationships: death, injustice, separation, anxiety, etc. This song is for the brokenhearted, and that could be stemmed from so many different things, not just relationships. 

2. Who or what initially inspired you both to pursue a career in music?
Carly: We have been singing since we came out of the womb, so we always knew we would pursue music. It was something that we have wanted to do before I could remember. Music has always been such a huge part of our lives, so I guess we didn’t see a future without music in it. We didn’t know how or what the future of music had in store for us. It was a huge decision to move to LA and pursue a career as artists. We never thought that we would brand ourselves as artists and become a real duo. It always felt like something we would talk about but never really do. Still, we just knew that music would be there. What inspired us to develop as artists and release our music was just realizing that breaking the norm is okay. We are from a small town and everyone we knew went straight from high school to college. That was our plan. We quickly learned that everybody’s journey is different and that it’s okay to not do what is expected. To do the unexpected, and create a life of our own. 

Our manager Sera really inspired us. She helped us see the importance of growth, developing, and continuously learning. We did not know anything about having a career in music. We just knew that we loved to make music. Something that also inspired us was having the comfort knowing that artists AREN’T doomed to fail! So many people told us growing up that, “Nobody makes it in this business. There are so many people out there trying to do the same thing, you will fail, etc..” It is true, yes; there are a lot of people trying to make it in this business. But it’s not what this is about. It’s about creating art, making music, memories, and essentially impacting people’s lives with music. It’s all about the art. Once, we realized that and blocked out the negativity, we were ready to pursue it. 

3. You’re originally from the Dallas area. What do you miss most about Texas?
Carly: Our family – We are super close to our family, and they are the most important to us. Home is where the heart is, so I guess I wouldn’t say it’s Texas but more so just being with our loved ones. Since quarantine, we have been back but we are about to go back to Cali in a week and though we are so excited to get back. We’re sad about leaving them. And of course, we really miss Whataburger when we are away. 

4. What is it like working together as sisters in the music industry?
KT:  It’s never easy, as it never is for music duos. There are lots of decisions to be made, and with a pair of twins who happen to be polar opposites, we disagree quite a bit. We aren’t afraid to share our honest opinions when things are bad, so even though brutal honesty can come across harshly at times, we are really good at constantly pushing each other to grow and be better every day. Other than that it’s amazing. Last night, we were writing a song and were laughing until we had abs and having so much fun the whole time. There is no one else I’d rather be in a music duo with. We are both really lucky to have each other and to be best friends.  

5. Who are your biggest musical influences?
ODESZA, Tame Impala, Léon, Rozes, Tove Lo, Dua Lipa, Amy Winehouse, RL Grime, Flume, ZHU, Loree, Galantis, Ishi, FKA Twigs and so many more.

6. What venue do you dream of performing at one day?
Any kind of music festival – Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Coachella, ACL, Float Fest, or NYE on Time Square, Madison Square Garden.

7. What message do you hope fans take away from your music?
We hope they have some type of escape or refuge when listening to our music. We hope they feel less alone, and loved. Sometimes when people can’t understand us and what we are going through, music does. We want our music to be there for our listeners when no one else is.

Smash that play button and serenade yourself with the acoustic mastery that is “Otherside” Be sure to keep up with KTJ & Carly on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.