Interview: Megan and Liz Chat Nashville and Their Latest Single

If there’s a Taylor Swift shaped void in your country pop playlists, we have the perfect artists for you, Megan and Liz, country‘s next big duo. 22-year-old Michigan-natives are not your ordinary duo, they’re twin sisters. They initially gained attention from posting covers of songs on YouTube and then started to put out their own music, they’ve recently made the move from pop music and an LA lifestyle for a more organic country sound and Nashville, the sound suits them wonderfully and we were lucky enough to talk with them about their work since moving to Nashville and their latest single, “That Ghost”, which was nominated for a Teen Choice Award!

Image by KayKay Blaisdell.

First off, congratulations on the Teen Choice nomination! That Ghost” got nominated for choice country song alongside some really huge names, how does it feel to be recognized?

It feels amazing to nominated! Really, a dream come true. It says something we think for the direction that the music business is going, we are unsigned, the only ones in the category that are unsigned. It shows that you can do big things with out a label, which we are proud to represent!

So, for anyone that hasn’t listened to you before, tell us a little about yourselves?

We are twin sisters, born in a small town in Michigan, with HUGE dreams sums us up pretty well. We feel we have a story to tell, not only in our music but just in who we are and what we believe. We are songwriters, and young women in the music business! So we are all about following your dreams, and working hard for what you love. We were raised to sing harmony together our whole lives, so that is what you get when you listen to Megan and Liz! We got our start in our small town by doing covers on YouTube. We gained over a million subscribers, and those people have been with us through this crazy journey for the last 8 years!

You’ve been performing a lot recently and you’ve done a couple of shows with Song Suffragettes. What does it mean to you to be part of the movement in increasing the presence of women in country music right now?

Being part of a movement is something we are so proud of. The business is constantly changing and women somehow ended up not getting the recognition we deserve! We were raised by a mother who taught us to be proud of being a woman and always stand up for women, we are powerful! 🙂

In terms of other music, what are you listening to lately?

We are always all over the map when it comes to the music we listen to! We love a good pop song, and we love what’s on country radio. And we get down with some heavy rap every now and then, just because it has an energy unlike anything!

And your biggest musical influences?

Our musical influences are anyone with harmony, The Dixie Chicks, Aly & AJ (another sister duo!) And of course Taylor Swift. She really made songwriting a cool thing to do, and taught girls all over that telling YOUR story is a really cool thing that you have the power to do!

Since moving back to Nashville you’ve been working on your sound with the Simple Life EP and releases like All The Way and That Ghost, what can we expect from you next?

As far as music coming up, it is going to sound a lot like “That Ghost” as far as the style! Very country pop, we are not afraid to walk that line! We are working with Mike Shimshack, one of our favorite writers/producers to work with. He gets where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to be better than anyone!

Simple Life EP was a huge turning point for you with going back to your country roots and moving back to Nashville. What has everything been like since the release of that and the change in direction?

Moving back to Nashville has been so good to us. We feel like we made the right choice everyday. It just has a way of telling stories that we are in love with, it has let us grow so much as artists and as people. We feel the music is right where it should be!

Since being back in Nashville your writing has definitely taken on a different style with more mature sounds and themes compared to some of your previous releases. Do you think being surrounded by so many talented artists has helped?

Nashville has been so experimental for us! Everyone here is a writer/artist, and we mean EVERYONE. So seeing and hearing that creative energy definitely has an effect on how you do your own! You find yourself taking inspiration from your friends and you don’t even realize it. Magical how Nashville works in that way!

We love That Ghost, it’s such a different sound for you but suits you perfectly, can you tell us about what went into writing that?

Writing “That Ghost” started with the lyric, and finding the emotional music to match it. That’s how that song was born, just an emotional story that we worked on with someone who knows us (Shimshack) and the emotion was just all there, and that is really the key to a song that works and feels good!

We also got the chance to chat with Mike Shimshack, producer and co-writer of “That Ghost,” on the making of the song. Here’s what he had to say:

“First off, I am a Megan and Liz fan.  I have immense respect for the career they’ve built for themselves. If I recall correctly, Caitlyn Smith and I were their first co-write.  I remember being impressed by them even though they were only 16 years old at the time.  They have since written with and learned from some of the best writers in music.  As a result, anyone who knows me has heard me say that they have turned into true world-class songwriters…they are as good as anyone that has come through my studio doors.
Regarding the “That Ghost” production, Megan and Liz give me tons of room to experiment production-wise and are never afraid to try things others might be scared of.  That kind of freedom is incredible and extremely rare.  At this point, I have worked with them enough to have a pretty good pulse of what they want to hear in their records.  This particular production was based on the day-of-writing demo of which I had programmed the drums, bass and keyboards.  I then tracked Jason Roller’s acoustic guitar, resonator and mandolin live and subsequently loaded them into a sampler for triggering/processing.  All electric guitars were overdubbed by Dave Julian at his studio in Buffalo, NY.  Afterwards, the girls tracked their vocals at my studio.  The “ohhs” in the intro and turnarounds were taken from Liz’s scratch ad lib track, treated liberally with effects, and then chopped up and rearranged into a haunting sounding hook.  From there the song went to Los Angeles where my good friend Jon Kaplan did a great mix and John Spiker mastered it. “That Ghost” is an absolutely beautiful song sung by two artists that know what they want to say as well as how to say it.  I am really happy that Megan and Liz are starting to get the recognition they deserve and I’m honored they trusted me to help bring this song to life.”

Find out more about the twins on their YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Website.