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(Justine, left, and Chelsea, right. Photo by Chelsey Croucher)
Summer Twins is a band I started with my sister years ago.
But it's actually a lot more than that... It's a world we've created and a lifestyle that we live.
Justine and I grew up doing everything together, including starting our first band. As teenagers and outcasts at our school we were inspired by groups like The Ramones and The Donnas; their kinship and attitude made being in a band seem so cool. At age 13, I picked up the guitar, and Justine, 15, taught herself to play drums. After learning some covers we began writing songs and were soon spending our school nights rehearsing in our parents’ basement and playing gigs. Our band was our safe haven in the treacherous world of high school.
After graduation all our friends moved away to college while we stayed in our hometown, Riverside, CA and attended community classes. While feeling left behind, I was not lost. Writing songs and playing shows felt natural to me – I never had to question it. So I kept doing it.
With Justine by my side and a few friends as our backing band, we played our first Summer Twins show in the basement in 2008. Our music was an exploration of modern indie with vocal harmonies inspired by ‘50s doo-wop and ‘60s garage. I poured myself into my songs, writing about love, heartbreak, and growing up.
As the leader of the band, I also discovered an exciting new identity in which I could dream up crazy ideas and bring them to life. Why not parade through the street before the show? Why not build a giant life-size paper boat to be photographed in? Why not stage a giant pillow fight in the middle of a field for a music video? Through the Summer Twins lens, anything could be made into art and “what ifs” became our own dreamy reality. As long as I had my band, I had a purpose and I felt like anything was possible.
Though our dreams were big, our early years were a blur of countless late night drives, playing to half empty rooms. Still, I was determined we would go somewhere. Slowly but surely we worked our way into the Los Angeles and Orange County music scenes gaining the attention of fans and indie label, Burger Records.
The Burger Records boys were big dreamers too. With their help we released music on cassettes and vinyl, toured the country DIY-style and gained a following with music lovers around the world, landing our first tour in Japan - a dream come true!
With a few albums and many years hard work, we’ve built a following of dedicated fans and have landed some amazing opportunities. But it hasn’t been easy as we trudge forward. Justine and I are now living in Los Angeles, working harder than ever to balance side jobs while fulfilling our dream of playing music full time. Like a lot of artists out here, we’re figuring it out as we go.
I can’t say that I’d still be playing if I didn’t have my sister by my side. After nearly a decade of playing in Summer Twins, Justine has found her own voice too. As a multi-instrumentalist she started writing and recording her own music under the name Easy Love. It's now our second band with Justine front and center and a few friends and I backing her up. The music has a ‘90s vibe to it, with contagious pop melodies.
As I grow and change over the years, Summer Twins continues to evolve with me. Our lineup is always changing, our aesthetic always morphing, but we’ll always be striving to make the best, most honest work we can. Songwriting is my therapy – my way of life and my way of coping with life – and the more I commit to it, the more I see how it can heal and inspire other people too. Summer Twins is a dream world in which I’ll keep on living. Anyone is welcome to join.