Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Mar 8th 2010 1:00PM by Andrea Swensson
How did you choose the name Ortolan? What does it mean?
Jill: The band was called Juliet, but there was some confusion about whether we were guy haters or lesbians [laughs]. Steph was thinking of changing the name to begin with, and then someone recommended that we change it. One day my husband and I were listening to the radio, NPR, and they were talking about this bird Ortolan, which is a bird in France. It's just a small sparrow type bird, and it stands for purity and beauty and innocence.
How would you describe your band's sound?
Laura: I would probably say '50s pop rock. We all love the oldies sound. And also, kind of whimsical--the toy piano, almost childish. Not to say that we are children still, but it's just fun. It's really fun to play.
What are your musical influences? Do your individual influences overlap with one another?
Brianna: I think we pretty much share influences. We get a lot of inspiration from Regina Spektor, Eisley, Feist, Tegan and Sara--well not so much Tegan and Sara, we just really like them. A lot of oldies--Cat Stevens, the Beatles, a variety of stuff.
Have you done a lot of touring? It must be difficult with one of you still in high school.
Stephanie: Yeah, I'm still in high school. We haven't really toured yet--we went to New Orleans last summer to play a festival, and we've been doing local shows in Philly, and in Jersey, and some in New York. That's pretty much as far as we got. But we're excited for this tour coming up.
What are your expectations for SXSW? Do you know how many shows you will be playing?
Laura: We're playing two shows at SXSW. We don't know what to expect--we've heard a lot of good things about SXSW, so we're really excited to play. So we're just hoping everything goes well and people enjoy our music.
Stephanie: A lot of people, when they find out that we're going to SXSW, are like, "Oh my gosh! That's crazy!" It is crazy--you just see these big bands and they've played at SXSW, and it's just like, how did we even get here?
Are there bands you are excited to check out?
Jill: I'm going to be taking care of my four-month-old while we're on the road. So I don't how much I'll be getting around.
Laura: We know that the rest of us are going to be walking around and listening to a lot of people there. We're super excited to see Eisley, Seabear, Nicole Atkins, She and Him, Band of Horses, and the Paper Raincoats.
If we were to join you in your tour van, what kind of music would be on the stereo?
Jill: We thought about making a mix tape of our favorite songs, so each person would put our top favorite songs in.
Laura: I'd probably want to listen to rap. I think rap always gets me in a fun mood. Some of it I don't listen to because most of it's pretty inappropriate [laughs], but I don't know, I just like the beats, and dancing to it. It's fun, especially in the car.
Jill: I know this sounds really cheesy, but I'm going to be listening to our CD just to be sure that when we play, I'm playing the right thing. This is the real deal! We're on tour, we gotta sound good, so I know that I'll be doing my homework [laughs].
Do you have a main songwriter in the group, or do you write songs collaboratively?
Jill: Stephanie usually writes most of the music, lyrically. Laura and I have written some music, Laura has written lyrics, and we're waiting for Brianna to write some songs, but everyone comes together with their instrument and makes the whole sound.
Laura: We all pitch in with a bunch of "oohs" and "ahs."
When you play shows locally, are you billed with similar artists?
Brianna: When we first started, we were just with the local high school hardcore boy bands, the screamo bands. They would go on and then we would go on and be like "dee dee dee." I remember hearing comments like, "Is there a girl band playing tonight?" So that's what we played with for the first year, year and a half. Now it's cool because we're starting to play with Danielson and Ben & Vesper.
Laura: And more of our friends have more of our kind of music, too. Before, our friends were all hardcore, they'd be screaming.
Are there a lot of hardcore bands in your local music scene?
Laura: The majority of the bands are probably mainly hardcore, screamo, punk rock, garage bands. I mean, there's not too many shows in New Jersey, so usually we'll go to Philly.
Brianna: It's gotten better, but I remember a few years ago it was like every person was hardcore. We were out of place. It was fun, because we were with our friends and stuff, but it was just very out of place. We always joked around that we needed one hardcore song.
Anything else on your mind as you prepare for SXSW?
Jill: We're trying to figure out our wardrobe! [laughs]
Andrea Swensson is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.