Heathers are an acoustic indie folk duo. The Irish twin sisters Ellie and Louise Macnamara began writing music together in 2007 and recorded their debut album Here, Not There in 2008.

Since their success with the single Remember When which has received considerable attention, they have grown ever more popular for their unique sound and some truly diverse lyrical talent.

On a sunny April day in London I was lucky enough to meet up with the Irish duo to have a chat about – well a bit of everything really.

Were you both interested in music from a very young age?

Louise: We’ve got a very musical family and have been playing piano since the age of six and singing – like at family gatherings, we would be made to sing…

Ellie: …I think probably up to the age of 16…17, we hated singing, we were so shy.

Louise: …I don’t know how it changed, but then we started writing songs, going to gigs in Dublin and our brother was in a band – and I guess he kind of influenced us.

They both agree their brother was a big part of their decision to start their career as a duo. This coupled with their friends’ support and encouragement made them write and record a few songs and then post them online, eventually landing a record deal. Their debut album Here, Not There was dubbed the “sound-track of the Irish Summer”.

…a lot of our songs are quite metaphorical, they might seem like they’re saying one thing but they’re not…

So what is the story behind the name Heathers?

Ellie: We got the name from the 80s movie Heathers with Winona Ryder and Christian Slater and it was a spur of the moment kind of thing, and we thought… yes let’s call ourselves Heathers.

Louise: We were finding it difficult to come up with a name, and we are really bad at choosing names… a lot of our songs are just names that have nothing to do with the song.

A prime example of this is the title of their single Slices of Palama

Louise: [Slices of Palama] was named after two of our best friends called Pamela and Danielle… Ellie used to call [Danielle] Slices for some reason and then Pamela… (Laughs). Picking names is usually the last thing we do. I thought it was a place somewhere; I had listened to it the night before and was intrigued, not only by the name, but also by the idea behind it.

Each of our songs is written so that they can have different meanings and interpretations.

Ellie: I had been on a school trip to Poland and went to Auschwitz, and I wrote that song when I got back from there. I guess it was an immediate feeling from that. But, a lot of our songs are quite metaphorical, they might seem like they’re saying one thing but they’re not. Being in Auschwitz was my stimulus for writing the song but…

It is not necessarily related to the place, is more the feeling you try to evoke?

Ellie: Yes. Each of our songs is written so that they can have different meanings and interpretations.

Indeed Slices of Palama, as well as other songs belonging to the duo, relies heavily on metaphors that can be easily appropriated by the listener, which is what ultimately makes their music so accessible.

What music/artists are you guys currently listening to?

Louise & Ellie: Adele, Janelle Monae, Kanye West, Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon…

Louise: We went to see Katy Perry a couple of weeks ago, and there was this French band Yelle supporting, and they were amazing!

Heathers’ next single titled Reading in the Dark, comes out May 16th. They recently played at “Monto Water Rats” on the 28th of April and next will be at the Camden Crawl Festival on the 1st of May.

 

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