So I’ve known you both for a while, but as far as the rest of world is concerned, the duet that is Poema popped up out of nowhere. Where did you come from… where have you been… where do you hope to be going?
Elle: Well, when a man loves a woman very much… haha… ehh, just kidding… maybe not the best way to start off this interview. We come from the small town of Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Been many places just this year and we still have a lot to do and much to learn but we’re definitely having fun enjoying the ride. 🙂
Shealeen: Well… we’ve just been playing music our whole lives, and about 2 years ago we were like hey… we should try writing songs! So we started writing together… and the rest is history I suppose, haha!!
By the time this interview posts, this will be old news, but as of right now, you’re on tour with Analog Rebellion (formerly PlayRadioPlay!). How has that run been? Stylistically, you’re both on pretty different playing fields. What has the general response been to your music?
Shealeen: Yes! It was such a cool tour, Dan’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. It was so rad that we got to play on that tour. And yeah, the response was pretty good actually! I felt like the kids who were PlayRadioPlay! fans were into our music.
Elle: I had a lot of fun Tour is tough for sure, but it’s totally worth it in the end. And we had a great time on this tour with the other bands.
Does your mom still tour with you? She’s such a nice lady. Forgive me if this is a quote you’d rather not bring attention to, but on our Veil Arms tour last December, you’d said: “Wow! Touring is hard!” The “fabulous” reality of the “show life” doesn’t kick in till you’re playing to five (not hundred) people… what do you think now? I know you’ve got some crazy stuff scheduled ahead…
Shealeen: Haha! We were just being babies. But hey, in all honesty, that tour was a bit harder than anything else we’ve done so far, mostly because I was FREEZING the whole time! I just remember loading and unloading in the winter air, night after night. And we all got sick, it was just miserable. But we made some great friends on that tour, and I mostly enjoyed it! But seriously, I have learned you just have to push through it. Oh and yeah, one of our parents is usually on the road with us. It’s such a different dynamic with our band. First of all, we’re teenage girls, plus, our drummer (who is also our brother) is barely 15. So they just like to have our backs, you know? There are some crazies out there and we are in random cities, playing at venues in weird parts of town, many of which have bars. I don’t know, I guess it would be different if we were a bunch of 22-year-old guys… But it’s a unique situation I suppose.
Elle: Yeah actually I think it’s gotten easier since then. We didn’t know really what to expect on that tour, but I think since then, we’ve been mentally prepared for what touring brings and we’ve had a lot more fun. Soooooo stoked for this summer, we’re going out with Windsor Drive in a week and then we’ll be at Vans Warped Tour volunteering at the Girlz Garage tent. We’ll be playing an acoustic set there every day and we couldn’t be more excited!
Can you list the tours you’ve done so far from past to present, note a couple learning curves and stepping stones from each of them, and explain what it’s been like for both of you to go from “those two cute Puckett girls out past Bernallio” to respected artists with a legitimate (and growing) following?
Shealeen: Hmm, well, our first tour was a little one at the end of 08’. It was called “the Wake Tour” and it was through Veil Arms clothing. It was such a fun experience. I remember at the show in Tulsa, OK, I just closed my eyes while I was singing and it was almost like I was somewhere else and I could hear us, and I asked myself, “Are we really playing these little songs we wrote in front of these people?” It’s kinda hard to explain it was just such a “wow” moment for me! After that tour we just practiced a ton, we actually signed to Tooth & Nail before we went on another tour. That wasn’t until July of 2009; we went out with our good friend Jeremy Ashida for about a week. At the end of that tour we got to stop in at Vans Warped Tour in Denver and play an acoustic set at the Girlz Garage tent, (which is where we’re going to be playing all summer). Those dates were a blast, it was so relaxed… And I guess after that we didn’t play anything until The Bradley Hathaway Tour & Then the Analog Rebellion Tour. So… Wow. Ha – we’ve barely toured at all, and we’re about to go out for about 2 and a half months. I’m so pumped. The number one thing I have personally learned though, just from the tours we’ve been on, is don’t stress or don’t take yourself too seriously. I’ve learned that unless you are playing music because you love it and it’s your passion and calling, you are going to be unsatisfied. If not enough kids come out to see you, if you only sell one CD, if the promoter rips you off, there are just so many things that can make you bitter. I don’t want that to ever happen to me. I know what we are doing is a ministry, and I want to love what I’m doing, and never do it for the recognition or money that comes (or doesn’t come) with it.
What was it like to record with Aaron Sprinkle? Were you already pretty familiar with and well prepared for what the process was going to look like? How did he help you transform acoustic, more minimalistic songs into a fuller, richer sound with complete instrumentation? I’ve yet to see you since ya’ll released your EP… do you now perform with a full band?
Elle: Being in the studio was one of my favorite memories of the past 2 years. It was great to be able to work with Aaron, we’ve admired his work for a long time and we’re very pleased with how the CD turned out. We had been several studios before but working with Aaron was different. I felt like he respected us as artists and respected our opinions. And that is very important to me because I’m sure they can all tell you, when it comes to the music, I can be pretty picky, so I was very grateful to have a say in things.
Shealeen: Aaron Sprinkle is so cool. He was so much fun to work with & he had so many great arrangement & instrumentation ideas. We all wanted the songs to have a bit of a bigger sound but still keep that organic acoustic vibe, so we had full drums, but we didn’t use any electric guitars. Elle & I are both huge “Fair” fans, as well as fans of so much of the stuff he’s done with other bands. I can’t even express how cool it was to be able to work with him. Live we still play with a Cajon (a box that has a snare and bass that you sit on and beat), and we also have an acoustic bass in addition to my piano and Elle’s acoustic guitar, but after warped we plan to finally start touring with a full kit.
Your dad is awesome. He’s an unbelievable musician, and I know that he’s incredibly encouraging of your project. How has growing up beneath his roof helped shape who you are? Give me a little family history here – did that man strap a guitar to Elle’s neck before she could walk and let Shealeen learn to crawl on a keyboard?
Elle: My dad was definitely my biggest inspiration to play the guitar. At first he taught me a few chords (G, D, Em, C) and it just took off from there. I was about 9 when I started and I would search through YouTube and learn covers of all my favorite artists and figure out the exact picking that they did and I just loved guitar. People say all the time “She doesn’t play like a girl” All I have to say to that is THANK YOU! Haha I take it as a compliment. There are few girl acoustic guitar players that can actually PLAY and I learned how to play from my dad and from Jon Foreman and from Phil Wickham so I don’t think playing like a guy is a bad thing.
Shealeen: You say that as a joke!! HA! Well, they bought a piano when I was about 7 or so, and I took classical lessons off and on for about 10 years. I remember being about 11, and my dad would make me pay attention as he explained the circle of fifths, diminished chords, augmented 7ths, and all that jazz (pun!). I can recall disliking my life very, very much while I was forced to listen to that boring stuff, but I can’t even express how grateful I am now. I remember wanting to quit my piano lessons so much those first several years, but I owe it all to my parents who made me stick it out. Piano is such a huge part of who I am, If I didn’t have that outlet I know I’d be such a different person.
What did you do to market yourself as beginners? Did you write people and send out demos? If so, to whom? How did you get your name out there, and whom did you seek out to help you? What would you suggest to up-and-comers that look up to you and aspire to get where you are?
Shealeen: I think we might have sent one press kit to Hollywood records (Disney label)! That’s quite hilarious to me now. I doubt they actually listen to their demos. Haha Anyhow, we got discovered on that Wake Tour we went on. A label rep from Tooth & Nail saw us in Dallas and we showcased to the label within a month. Other than that, we work very hard at marketing our music online. We are constantly talking to fans on Facebook, following people on twitter, adding friends on MySpace, putting up videos on YouTube, doing Stickam video chats, and doing as much as we can to grow our fan base. The internet is an AMAZING tool for promotion. I suggest to bands to utilize the internet’s many social networking sites to promote your music. And of course, practice, practice, practice!! Because when you go showcase to those labels who are absolutely lovin’ what they hear on your Myspace, you better show them you can kill it live as well.
Elle: Staying connected with our fans has always been a big priority for us. I remember when we’d get 1 Myspace message and 3 friend requests a day and we were stoked! Now things are a lot busier, but we still reply to comments and messages and tweets as often as we can. We want our followers to feel like friends rather than fans.
J.D. Salinger is a dude that wrote some cool things. Here’s one of them. “I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty… you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.” Ever been there (with genders switched, of course)?
Shealeen: In love? Ahh… If only. I sometimes wonder if we write so many love songs because we just long for pure romance so much.
Elle: Shealeen’s right, “in love” is a bit extreme, and I don’t really let myself get attached to any guy so easily, there have been some occasions where I have fallen hard for a guy without really knowing him and when things didn’t work out, I just wrote a song about it. Haha but you never know. I’m still young 😉
Who writes the lyrics? They definitely carry that love-song vibe with both the laughs in the relationships, the snapshots you want to keep, and the heartbreaks, the things you’d just as soon forget. Tell me a little bit about them, maybe a couple specifics about what a few of them are about, and tell me which ones are your favorites, and why.
Elle: Lyrics and melodies are totally random in our writing process. Sometimes I’ll write the lyrics and Shea will come up with a catchy melody or it’s the other way around. And sometimes we’ll just write the whole song by ourselves! I wrote “Feel the Same Way” by myself, but both Shealeen and I wrote “City Boy” so it sort of has the consistency of trail mix. It’s never the same. Love songs have always just been the easiest for us to write, they just flow. But some of the songs we’re hoping to put on the new record are going to be of a different subject matter. We have gone through a lot since the last record and I really think we’ve matured; most of it has been a blast, but we’ve also had more experiences of heartbreak and tough times. And a lot of the new songs we are writing more meaningful lyrics that relate to us more personally. Things can get emotional, especially on tour, so writing is the perfect outlet for me.
Shealeen: We both do. And like I said, love songs just come so easy to us. Most of the songs aren’t about anyone or any situation. They are mostly daydreams, and wishful romantic thinking. However many of the new songs we haven’t recorded yet are more personal to our lives. My personal favorite is probably Blue Sweater, it’s more emotional, and it deals with missing someone. I feel like that is something everyone can relate too, whether it’s a couple in a long distance relationship or a loved one who passed away. I’m also really attached to this new song I’m writing called “Baby, Don’t Cry” (well.. that’s what I think it will be called). It’s kind of a ballad type song that basically talks about unconditional love.
If your twitters are any indication of this question, then I might already have it answered, but just how much do you really love The Jonas Brothers?
Shealeen: Oh my goodness. I totally tweeted about Joe Jonas today. #marrymejoejonas. (Ha I’m kidding, I didn’t tweet that.) But seriously, I dig them. They write fun, catchy music, plus they are talented & cute! What’s not to love?
Elle: Aside from the fact that, yeah, got a bit of a crush, I totally respect them – both as young men and as musicians. They inspire me to write better songs, work harder, and still have fun. I owe a lot to them actually. 🙂
I hear that making music videos is, perhaps, one of the most awkward experiences a person could put themselves through. What was it like filming 2 AM? Are the rumors true? What was the weirdest part about it?
Elle: I loved filming it! It was certainly more comfortable shooting the scenes where all I had to do was sing, but the acting scenes were still really fun! I just wish I were a better actress!
Shealeen: What’s funny is, that song is about being awkward, so any awkwardness picked up on camera just worked with the theme. The most awkward part for me was some of the scenes with the security guard, who is my good friend Kyle. It was just awkward when they are like “Alright, now look into his eyes!” and they are all just staring at us. I wanted to crack up so many times. But besides that it wasn’t bad at all! It was such a fun experience!
Has it been hard to build and maintain this project as sisters (and I know your brother was a part of it for a while, as well – has that continued, by the way?)? Do you guys generally get along pretty well, or do you rip each other’s hair out before you get it all pretty again for the show?
Shealeen: You would think that we would fight a lot seeing as we are ALWAYS together. And honestly, so many times, we will be really selfish and we will argue and fight, but at the end of the day, we both realize that we are a team. We need to work together to make this work. The best part about working with family is that we can be honest about how we feel, and not have to step on eggshells, and nobody gets their feelings hurt. It’s a cool dynamic.
Elle: We get along. Like sisters. 😉 Haha of course we argue, it’s mostly out of good intentions, but we’ve also learned to sometimes just let things go. And sometimes you have to when it comes to the business what decisions need to be made. We can’t have any personal issues when it comes to making Poema decisions. But we both have such respect for each other that it’s easy to move past things.
Alright, each of you give a should out to three bands or artists that you want people to check out, three books that you want people to read, and three movies that you want people to watch.
Elle: Oooooo, toughy.
Ok 3 bands
1. Nickel Creek – AMAZING. I have jest recently really gotten into them, (I’m about 7 years late, but…) Their music is perfect if you just want to relax. I listen to them when I sleep and when I do…pretty much everything else.
2. Brad Paisley – That’s right. Country rules. End of story.
3. Lady Antebellum – If you like good song writing, amazing voices, and catchy songs.
The Mark of the Lion series – “A Voice in the Wind”, “An Echo in the Darkness”, and “As Sure as the Dawn” Pretty much has the best love story(ies) I’ve ever read (blows Edward and Bella out of the water. Yes, I went there.)
3 shows (since I’m sure Shealeen’s answers are the same as mine, I’ll change movies to shows)
1. Frasier – Ok, it’s a sitcom made in the 90’s, but seriously, I LOVE the humor. It’s my absolute favorite show to watch. Love, love, love.
2. LOST – I’ve followed it from the beginning, but I haven’t seen the season finale yet, don’t tell me what happens!!
3. Hmmm…Well, probably American Idol and The Office. That’s 4 total, am I taking too much liberty here?
Shealeen: Okay. Since I will NEVER be able to pick three artists randomly, I will just go with what I’ve been really into lately: 1. Patsy Cline. I’ve been listening to her nonstop lately. I can’t get enough of her songs! They are so good! In my opinion, she’s sort of a female version of Johnny Cash, who is one of my favorite artists of all time. 2. Luminate. They are some friends of ours from Tyler, Texas. They just signed with sparrow records, they write some really amazing and heartfelt worship music. 3. Stevie Ray Vaughan. I know that’s the most random thing ever, but seriously just go check out some of his songs on YouTube. You’ll be dancing. I have always been a sucker for feel good blues music. It makes me think of backyard summer barbeques growing up. Oh!! and I have to add a fourth one. Nick Jonas’s new project called “Nick Jonas and the Administration.” That boy is so talented. It reminds me of a John Mayer meets Stevie Wonder meets Maroon 5 meets Jonas Brothers. It’s Incredible in my opinion. Listen. Love.
Books. 1. Until We Have Faces by CS Lewis. It’s incredible. It’s such an unusual story; I think it’s the retelling of a Greek myth. I seriously dream about this book all the time, it left a huge impact on me for some reason. If you read it, I’d love to talk to you about it! The end is super weird. But yeah, It’s such a great story. 2. When God Weeps, by Joni Erickson Tada and Steve Estes. It’s about God’s heart toward our suffering. It has opened my eyes so much in understanding why He does what He does. It is such a great book. 3. The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. No fiction books have ever had the same effect on me. It’s about a Jewish slave girl’s impact on a Roman family, and about a German Gladiator who gets taken from his family. I absolutely LOVE those books. I could read them over and over and over.
Movies: 1. Sense and Sensibility. That movie I will never get sick of. I remember one night I felt so heartbroken because of a guy I liked; I watched it four times in a row. It was ridiculous. The story is amazing and I love listening to how they spoke in Jane Austen’s day. 2. That Think You Do. That’s my second favorite movie ever. I have it memorized; it’s so funny to me. 3. Les Miserables. It’s with Liam Neeson, and he’s the man. It’s a great story about redemption with such an interesting story line.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add, whether it has to do with Poema or not?
Christian Puckett is still our drummer (He’s our 14 year old brother, hands off ladies)
Jake Germany just recently became our bassist.
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