That description of Say Lou Lou members Elektra and Miranda Kilbey — “Swedish/Australian” — doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? The 21-year-old twin sisters, who have been gaining blog traction with their dense, dazzlingly detailed tracks “Julian” and “Fool of Me,” describe themselves as hailing from two different indie-pop meccas since their father is Australian and their mother is Swedish. Growing up, Elektra and Miranda would frequently bounce back and forth between the two continents, logging 24-hour plane rides in order to see their parents.
“The worst is the jet lag, especially coming back [to Sweden],” Elektra Kilbey tells Billboard. “You go crazy. It messes up your mind completely.” There were some benefits to that domestic arrangement, though: the duo got to avoid winters in Sweden by shipping off to Australia in the summertime, and, now that they’re a bit older, the sisters can appreciate the unique cultural viewpoint that such regular travel afforded. “When I’m in Australia, I feel like a Swede… but then I come to Sweden and I see Sweden from an Australian perspective,” Kilbey says. “It opens your eyes a lot to the society we live in.”
Whether you’re in Stockholm or Sydney, “Fool of Me,” which features Australian vocalist Chet Faker, is one of the more quietly devastating songs released so far this year. Released earlier this month as a b-side on the vinyl release to Say Lou Lou’s single “Julian,” “Fool of Me” has garnered 123,000 Soundcloud plays in two weeks, and has sbeen highlighted on Pitchfork, Idolator and MTV Buzzworthy as a potential breakout song for the duo.
“We’re overwhelmed,” says Kilbey of the response to the song. “For us, it was always an amazing track and it felt very intimate, but in our view it was something to complement ‘Julian.’ We didn’t plan for it, and we didn’t even hope for it, to have that kind of reception.”
Miranda and Elektra Kilbey’s widely separated parents were both musicians, and while the sisters always thought about singing together, they put off their artistic aspirations during their teenage years and both studied to become psychiatrists. The duo slowly “found our way back,” as Miranda puts it, and eventually released a single, “Maybe You,” as a one-off on French label Kitsuné last year.
Since then, Say Lou Lou has established its own label, à Deux, on which it released “Julian” in March (the single was issued through Downtown Records in the U.S.). “At this point in time, we wanted creative freedom not only musically but also digitally and create our own world of Say Lou Lou,” Kilbey explains.
On May 14, “Julian” received an official music video, and the digital single includes remixes of the song by Dan Lissvik, Martin Dubka and Checan. Next up is a proper album: Kilbey says that she and Miranda are “in the middle of a very intense recording period,” and hope to release Say Lou Lou’s debut full-length later this year. The album will be mixed in London, Stockholm and Los Angeles — not that the sisters mind traveling too much.
“We have a lot of songs and we kind of just want to get them out, so we’re trying to wrap things up and show more of ourselves,” says Kilbey, adding that acoustic shows in New York and Los Angeles will hopefully be scheduled sometime in the near future.