The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: Colorado Sister Duo, Facing West
By Gabriella Steffenberg
Caitlin and Sidney Powell from Evergreen, Colo., are the two fresh faces that make up Facing West. The sister duo are 16 and 13, respectively, and are just at the beginning of their musical journey.
Recently signed by Pando Records, a label under Warner Music Group, these two ladies have been staying busy writing and recording for their debut album, A Long Way Home, set for a May release. Their first single and music video, “Anchor,” was released in March, and is already making waves in the girls’ home state of Colorado’s folk and country music scene.
You can learn more about Facing West at www.facingwestmusic.com and in our interview below.
WiMN: What inspired you two to start making music together? How old were you?
FW: We started performing at open mics separately at 13 and 10 years old. In hindsight we found that this was an important piece of our development. It helped us individually fight the nerves of performing music live, and it also helped learn how to interact with the crowd as solo artists. Over time, we started performing together. It was over the winter of 2013 when our mom asked for a duo performance as a Christmas gift. We just fed off of each other during that initial performance and found ourselves performing more often together, rather than alone.
WiMN: What’s the best part about making music with your sister?
FW: We live under the same roof, eat dinner together, watch many of the same TV shows, share a lot of the same novels, and even share a bathroom! I think these things bring us closer together and help us share some of the more emotional aspects of life that is reflected in our music. It takes time to make friends that you can confidently share the depths of your soul; in our situation it is more natural since we are sisters. Also we can provide brutal honesty when something just doesn’t sound right… In the end we are family so we are required to make up.
WiMN: How’s the music scene in Colorado? What kind of gigs do you perform around Evergreen and other areas?
FW: Colorado has a vibrant local music scene with all kinds of outdoor festivals and small venues for developing artists like us to perform. We also live about 15 minutes from the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre that is a destination location for most of the top national acts. We started performing locally in Evergreen in 2013 and some of the top Colorado festivals in 2014. In 2015 we have been focused on contracting better time slots and more festivals across Colorado and other western states.
WiMN: Tell us about the process of recording your debut album! How long has it been in the works?
FW: Performing live and studio session are two different beasts. We worked on a self-released album in 2013 with Jon Bonus at JRB Music. Jon helped us understand the key elements of becoming recording artists. The biggest challenge for us was the click track. After grooving together during live performances we had to learn to play to the metronome while in studio. This was critical in getting the right studio sound and was a critical skill set for Pando Records decision to record our album Long Way Home.
After signing with Pando Records President Scottie Flint in December of 2014, he determined he wanted a full album with 12 songs (rather than just an EP), so we set to write during the month of January with our producer Joshua Bertrand. We came up with 16 songs; a few were cut to complete a well-balanced project showing our most current skills. Studio days were long and repetitive but recording at Rusty Sun Audio worked out great. The owner Nick Nordurft had a new puppy and a backyard grill so our breaks were always relaxing and fun. We worked with and had some very talented musicians join in like Jock Bartley (Firefall) and Kim Stone (Spiro Gyra). As of this article the tracks are in mastering under Grammy award winning engineer David Glasser at Airshow Mastering in Boulder, Colorado.
“Anchor” by Facing West:
WiMN: What’s your favorite track off of the album and why?
FW: Picking a favorite song would be very difficult! One song we wrote called “Flowers” is a reflection about a girl who changes to fit someone else’s reality of her. It is written to challenge us to stay true to who we are and as an inspiration for others to do the same.
WiMN: Which bands and musicians do you find to be the most influential?
FW: We both learned to play guitar with a bunch of different Colbie Caillat songs off of her first album, Coco. Another big influence for us has been the vocal harmonies sung by Emily Sailers and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, especially songs off their album, Nomads Indians Saints. More recent influences include Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, American Authors, Adele, and writers like Ryan Tedder.
WiMN: What’s one piece of advice you would give to young girls your age trying to break into the music industry?
FW: You will be criticized but always remember, “It is not the critic who counts” by Theodore Roosevelt. You will need an inner circle that you can trust. Those few individuals invested in you and your music that will be able to provide you the constructive criticism and guidance for growth. One other piece of advice: learn to play an instrument so you can busk, play open mics, and start booking gigs on your own.
WiMN: What’s on the horizon for you ladies musically for the rest of 2015?
FW: We just wrapped up our first SXSW showcase in Austin, Texas and have a large number of festivals to perform over the summer, which should be lots of fun. We are also scheduling another video to shoot toward the end of May for the title track, “Long Way Home,” in a very special location in Colorado. And finally, we have already started writing again for our next album and are finding that the wonderful Colorado spring is a huge influence.