Exclusive Interview With Dawn And Hawkes

© Jackie Lovato

The first time I heard this Dynamic Duo, Dawn and Hawkes, sing, it was during their audition for the voice. They performed their own down-to-earth rendition of a classic song, I've Just Seen A Face, from the classic Band, The Beatles. It was beyond lovely, and one could not help but root for them to the end.

Now, this Dynamic Duo has graced the world with their wonderful debut album, Yours and Mine, that is as much a story about their journey as musicians as it is a story about their journey as a couple. The album, at times mellow, and at times upbeat, is a compilation of a transcendent alternative-folk sound, in a music industry clouded with tiring upbeat music that is more beats and sounds than it is music and a lyrical story.

From songs like Silver Line, Yours and Mine, Lightening Strikes, Almost Mine, and my personal favourite, Never Feel Alone, the album is thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end. Not once does the duo falter in their transcendent sound. This near perfect album is very easy to listen to and in the end you will find yourself craving more from this amazing Dynamic Duo. Their debut album is easily one of the best albums of 2015.

1) First of all, I love your music. Can you start off by each telling me a little bit about yourself and then your group?

Miranda: That's so nice - thank you! As an Austin native, I grew up immersed in a culture that encourages music and creativity. From a young age my dad began teaching me about music and I witnessed the artistic culture here by watching him play drums and mandolin in bands around town.

After earning a degree in Entrepreneurship from St. Edwards, I began to work with non-profits and sustainability efforts. I helped start up businesses and organizations before taking a creative path to pursue performing the songs that I had been passionately writing for years. I began by touring as a back up singer while running and promoting songwriter showcases in town. That's where Chris and I first started playing together. Once I committed to playing music professionally, it became a passionate pursuit. Music continues to unfold and teach me, with new adventures everyday. For me the excitement comes from bringing resources, people, and emotions together to create something greater than myself.

Chris: I grew up in a musical family and tried my hand at playing several different instruments until I found one of my Dad's old guitars. Playing the guitar opened up an entirely new world for me. I started writing songs and singing which led to recording originals and my own versions of songs by artists like Cream and The Eagles. I would experiment with how the elements and sounds add together to make a song come to life. I liked collaborating with other people to find the sounds in our heads. After high school, I earned a degree in audio engineering from The Dallas Sound Lab, interned at a studio in Denton and worked as a sound engineer for the University of North Texas. I played in a couple bands through college and was drawn to Austin's rich musical culture. I moved to Austin and started performing and touring solo. Then one night I met Miranda. We started playing together and she opened a new life thats even more filled with and fueled by music.

2) As indie-folk artists, how do you navigate the very knotty, difficult, and at times frustrating music industry?

We both grew up during a shifting time in the music business. How people find and listen to music has been changing the whole time. Being independent musicians has its challenges, with financial and promotional resources, but relationships are still the life force that makes it work on every level. How we connect with other music makers and listeners pulls us forward and keeps us afloat. Regardless of the industry, music is still exciting and rewarding. Just taking a breather with a new favourite album is recharging, inspirational and a reminder that making and hearing music is a priceless thing in life.

© Jackie Lovato

3) Okay, lets talk about your debut album, Yours and Mine. The album was amazing! It is always so rare for me to like all of the songs on an album. But, not only did I like all the songs on your album, I absolutely loved them all! It is definitely one of my favorite albums this year. Can you tell me a bit about the album, the writing and production process, and its subsequent release?

Wow that's fantastic to hear! Thank you. We wrote most of the songs on the road together traveling to or from a gig but each song has its own unique story. Two of the individually written songs came from a songwriting workshop where each writer wrote 10 songs in a day.

We'd record songs for the album on days home from touring. We setup a home studio and focused on finding a balance, keeping it simple - two guitars and voices - and letting the individual character or vibe of each song inspire other elements - piano, mandolin, upright bass, drums.

4) Again, all the songs on your album are simply amazing. But, my favorites are Yours and Mine, Almost Mine, and my absolute favorite, Never Feel Alone. Can you tell me a little bit about the inspirations behind these particular songs on your album?

Yours and Mine came from a conversation on the way to play a wedding. It's kind of a vulnerable and tense moment, unwinding in the lyrics, that find understanding and hope.

Almost Mine and Never Feel alone were both written at the 10-songs-in-a-day retreat in San Diego.

Miranda: 'Almost Mine' is about a lost chance, a missed connection, or a regret after an opportunity has passed by. The character in the song is waiting to go after a long held dream, but the dream is lost from waiting too long. Almost mine was the first song that came out that day.

Chris: While writing and looking out a window, I saw a possibly sketchy looking van parked across from the building where we were all writing. It kind of initiated a day dream of driving up the coast and imagining the person owning that van. I found a combination of that story and my own personal reflection of years as a touring solo musician in "Never Feel Alone"

5) Can you tell prospective fans out there why they should pick up your album, what do you think separates your sound from the other sounds out there? Also, do you have any advice for young and aspiring artistes out there?

That's a great question! I think the mix of our two voices and two guitars, our individual sounds and thoughts, mix together in a way that's uniquely us. Something about the duo actually gives us room to be naturally expressive individually, and it has a certain energy to it.

If we could say anything to young or upcoming artists it would be that we have respect for those who are going for it regardless of what the industry looks like. If you feel compelled to make music, someone out there might need to hear it as much as you need to make it! It's rewarding to be a part of something that beautiful.

© Jackie Lovato