2011 saw the birth of The New Victorians, following their success at the Alchemy Songwriting Competition in the U.S. The song-writing duo, Philippa and Bettina, fuse their classical music foundation with their love for technology, creating an Electronic Indie sound most notable for its haunting harmonies and clever lyrics. Both multi instrumentalists and performance artists, the sisters are intent on redefining the contemporary music scene, taking listeners on a journey by means of both their live gigs and their music videos.
How did the band come together? We are very well aware that you two are sisters, but how did you know you wanted to work together as a musical duo? We both picked up instruments at a young age. Bet started classical piano at eight years old and I started messing around with the guitar at the age of six. For a few years we’d both write songs and hide them from each other, until…we didn’t anymore, hah! All through our teenage years we jammed in the basement – dramatic lyrics, minor chords, failed harmonies… all your typical clichés. Then one day during a lecture, Bet came across a songwriting competition on Twitter. It was in the US and the judges included Evanescence’s David Hodges, and Kris Allan, the American Idol Winner, amongst others. We thought we’d give it a shot and signed up as ‘Phyllis and Bertie’ for lack of a better name at such short notice. Ten days later we flew to the US, won the Youth Division Award, and the rest is history!
What’s the significance of the band name? The deep version is…the Victorian era was an age of change and innovation, and we feel we want to bring just that with our music – change, innovation, new stories, and new sounds. The shallow version is…we like what it sounds like.
Could you explain what The New Victorians stands for musically? Growth. The fusion of our folk/acoustic roots, with our love for technology. An ever-evolving sound with harmonies always at the centre.
How do you guys think you have grown as artists since the release of your debut album SEEKER SEEKER? SEEKER SEEKER was made up of a range of songs, from those we’d written at the age of 13 pre-TNV, to others composed specifically for the album. I think it sounded like that – like the journey to finding our sound. There was a slow shift from raw folk to experimenting with technology in our later teens. Since SEEKER SEEKER, and since completing our studies in the UK, I think we have a clearer vision of what stories we want to tell, what we want to sound like, and how we can achieve that sound as a duo. Our latest three-track EP SILENCE was a much clearer representation of where we’re at as artists today, and shows the direction we wish to be moving towards.
When should we expect another full album? Good question! We have loads of songs on the back-burner but we’re kind of enjoying putting our efforts into a single at a time for now.
What is the creative process like when writing a song? They tend to differ, although most times Bettina or myself will come up with the bones of a song alone on the piano or guitar respectively. Eventually, once it’s in a rough shape we usually show it to the other, who typically criticises it harshly, making lyric, structure, and groove changes. We’d then start laying down a rough version of the track on Abelton, messing around with beats and synths to see which direction we think we should take it in.
Who are your musical influences overall? Ooooh many! Sigrid, Maggie Rogers, Emily Warren, Bleechers, Haim, Mumford and Sons, Florence and The Machine, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Oh Wonder, Vulfpeck, and FKJ amongst others.
What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Currently I’d say we write mostly from a place of empathy/ sympathy. I find I’m much more articulate about things when I’m at a certain distance, watching everything unfold with a bit of perspective, and then telling the story from my point of view. ‘Lie Liar’, ‘Come Back’, and now our latest single ‘Put It In Words’, were all written from that place of observing a loved one in a moment of crisis, and channelling our own feelings of helplessness into song.
What is your favorite song to perform live? I think mine (Philippa) would have to be ‘Close Your Eyes’.
Any future collaborations we should be expecting? None so far – but maybe we should now you mention it.
What was it like opening up for Anastacia, on her European Tour – Evolution? Awesome! It was such a privilege to get to play our Full SILENCE EP for such a nice, warm crowd…and before such a legend.
What does the next year look like for you guys? New singles and new releases! We’re also super excited to announce that our original audio-theatrical show MARA, that we composed and directed alongside a fantastic female cast, has just been selected by the Vault Festival London, for a run between February and March 2019…so we’re pumped! Plans to visit other festivals with the piece are also in the pipeline… exciting!