Sunday, November 29, 2009

Interview: Secret Twins

Interview with The Secret Twins - as featured in this month's Current Magazine
more info: Secret Twins - Current Magazine
Dina Bankole is a subtle soul up on that stage;, her skinny frame gripping that striking, white flying-V, eye-lids half lowered as her angelic voice coos and soars into the mic. During the day she’s helping Toyota with Japanese translations and sporadically contributing to Ann Arbor folkster Nathan K, but lately she’s been singing her own songs on a regular basis at an increasing amount of live performances for her new band, the Secret Twins. “This is what I want to do; I’m living life the way I want to.”

Bankole, 27, was raised in Jackson, MI and currently calls Ypsilanti home. She admits that Jackson’s “kind of a weird place,” with a definite small town vibe, but that she enjoyed it – attending Catholic school and finding her lifelong joy, singing, through the choirs there and in high school.

With Ann Arbor based drummer Tim Thomas, the pair are Secret Twins, an up-and-coming indie-rock band, heavy on melody, angular rhythms and spats of rougher punk-edge spunk. As Bankole rattles off influences, I can’t help but harp on the middle ground her music forges between the acerbic/endearing noisey-rock of Sebadoh and the intricately dressed forceful indie/folk of Feist.

After high school, Bankole went over to Connecticut, studying Japanese at Yale. While over there, her friend Lucas helped her obtain her first guitar, and soon started taking some lessons, learning the tabs to some tunes by favorites like the Pixies and Nada Surf. When she returned to Jackson in 2007, she was able find a job so she could settle in Washtenaw, eventually writing her own songs and performing solo. Lucas would accompany her in early 2009, backing her up in April at the Totally Awesome Fest in Ypsilanti. After the Dreamland Theatre show, this tall lanky guy came up exclaiming, almost demanding, to be her drummer – this was Thomas and the rest is history.

“I really wanted the chance to see what I could do for her on drums,” said Thomas, who also grew up in a small town, Fremont, MI eventually coming to the Arbor-Ypsi area for school and work. “I knew (Lucas) was living in Dayton at the time, so I knew he wasn’t gonna be there, so it wasn’t really stealing her. She took me up on it and I didn’t know her at all, so it was weird, but we just started playing together and got to know each other.”

Timmy has played most of his life; he drummed in a band of close friends through the end of high school and a bit after, helping further his experience and giving him a taste of band-life. He currently drums for three bands, including BoyWife, Invader and Mouthfinger.

Musician Jim Cherewick, a friend of and occasional jammer with Bankole, took notice of her melodious rough and regal folk style and helped her get a spot on the Totally Awesome Fest – which could be where we use the cliché: “and she hasn’t looked back since.” Secret Twins established itself at that show, briefly featuring recordings Bankole made with Lucas and appearing on WCBN. They caught the eyes and ears of Detroit fans when they performed at the F*cking Awesome Fest in August, at the Majestic Theatre complex – attracting a large crowd and decent blog buzz.

Even Stuart Murdoch of Scottish baroque-pop legends Belle & Sebastian even took notice of her strikingly beautiful voice when Bankole won an online contest to contribute vocals to said-songwriter’s recent film score project, God Help The Girl.

Future plans include a proper full length recording, hopefully a tour and a handful of local shows.

See them in Lansing at (Scene) Metroscape on 12/12 with Joshua Barton & You and Yourn.

photos: Keith McArthur

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