Larkin Poe are heading our way and the southern-United States sister duo could not be more excited to hit up the Bluesfest stage and bring their sideshow to Melbourne’s Corner Hotel. Growing up surrounded by music, Rebecca and Megan Lovell found their groove after experiencing it first-hand.
“Our sound is sisterly harmonies first and foremost; on top of rock music that is very much inspired by the southern United States,” Megan says. “We went MerleFest for the first time and I remember being so struck by bluegrass music. I was blown away by the improvisation, joy, people dancing and the energy in the music.
“I’d grown up playing classical music and you’d basically stick to what’s on the page so this was very foreign,” she continues. “I think that’s when we really were enthused about the idea of dropping classical lessons and that’s when I started playing dobro for the very first time. That was when we were truly bitten by the music bug.”
The accomplished musicians practice a range of instruments with Megan playing the dobro and lap steel guitars and dabbling in keys, while Rebecca’s skills lie with violin, piano, banjo and guitar, drums, percussion and she once took some cello lessons. The sisters believe the best part of playing music, is the dive into the unknown and the unknown of the end result.
“We educated ourselves very gingerly and badly most of the time but that’s part of the beauty of making music, especially nowadays when all the barriers of entry are just down,” Rebecca explains. “Figuring out how to play a part that feels right may take you a bit longer because you’re kind of stumbling in the dark and that’s half the battle.
“In self-producing our last two records, Megan and I really took on control and a sense of ownership. We were willing to accept we did not know the right or the best way to do something but we always did it in a way that felt authentic to us and to me that’s what carries the most.
“We want to keep digging into the core of who we are as people.”
Channeling their energy into producing raw, bluegrass, Americana music, the genre-bending duo admit they unknowingly fell into the blues scene.
“The fact we’ve been making music for so much of our lives means there was a lot of ‘prep work’,” Rebecca says. “But falling into the blues was something that happened very quickly. I think it was sort of mystifying because having grown up in the southern United States, blues, roots, and American music was something we were so accustomed to hearing and we’ve deeply immersed in those traditions.
“But I do think there was this need to chill out; I think especially from me as a singer, there’s always like this driving force to be pretty and to sing pretty and to have everything sung just right,” Rebecca continues. “And when we started digging deeper into the blues, I really felt this shift in myself of ‘it’s really not about being pretty, you just need to be real’.”
“We’ve always played under the broad umbrella of the blues music, although we have wandered a little bit,” Megan adds. “Through rediscovering the blues and remembering where we come from, that’s really been a homecoming from us in a really beautiful way in the past two years.”
The Nashville-based sisters write a lot of their music together and find it as a way of healing and comprehending scenarios of life.
“Songwriting I feel is a muscle, it’s something you have to do; if you don’t channel a lot of energy into it you’re not going to much back out,” Rebecca says. “It’s been one of the great pursuits of my life and I really do love songwriting and I really cherish the moments Megan and I are able to write together and we can intertwine our souls into something that sounds like Larkin Poe.”
Today the sisters are known for their rich guitar and raw vocal sound and their YouTube cover series. But most of all, the Lovell’s hope their music can connect with people transcending genre barriers.
“I think initially we started our cover series just as a way to practice,” Rebecca says. “People were so excited by the cover videos and of course when you get that kind of response you keep chasing that and it felt like a cool means to connect with our fans.
“When you’re asking people to join you on a journey of your own original songs, sometimes it’s nice to make it easy for people to do a song everyone knows and is nostalgic. It really is such a great tool.
“Of course pop music is King here in the United States as I’m sure it is around the world, that is the main source of music which is awesome. But there is a bit more of a return to the music that is steeped in a bit of a tradition like the Blues and Americana. I think something that deep American music does so beautifully is it puts you in a space and really grounds you in a way that may be a pop singer or a rock tune might not.”
And while you may not be able to imagine working, touring and aligning your life so closely with your siblings, for Rebecca and Megan, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We have learned over the 28 years since Rebecca was born how to work together really well,” Megan shares. “There was a period of time in our late teens, early 20′s where we were figuring out who we were and that was a tougher time. Now we’ve moved into adulthood, we really cherish the relationship we have and it’s definitely the axis around which everything else turns.”
“There’s a multi-channel of communication running between siblings,” Rebecca adds. “It’s not just the words you speak, it’s the eye movements and the shared memories and the ‘oh I knew you when you were three years old’ type connection which can cut both ways.
“In a lot of ways, it’s such a strength to perform together, write music together and collaborate artistically because there is this sister intuition. But by the same token if it gets out of control it can be the opposite. But we love each other too much for that.”
Larkin Poe will bring their Bluesfest sideshow to the Corner Hotel, Melbourne on April 16. Visit www.bluesfesttouring.com.au/
Written by Kim Price