Transcript: Transcript Soulful Sounds Unleashed: Larkin Poe in conversation

This week show you’re going to find a little bit different because it features a pair of young musicians who’ve been inspired by the legends of the 60s and 70s. Now, I first came across Megan and Rebecca Lovell, also known as Larkin, Poe. When my partner told me that I just had to check them out. He was totally smitten both with their music and musicianship, and in particular with the way in which they continually reinterpret some of the best known songs of our generation. So many tunes have been treated to the lack and pole makeover. The list of artists tunes include Derek and the dominos and Bob Dylan, right through to people like Elvis Presley and this one by Elton John.


Rebecca and Megan Lovell’s work really is quite amazing. Today in their early 30s. They are Grammy nominated singer songwriters and multi instrumentalists who are creating their own brand of roots rock and roll. It’s gritty, soulful, and flavoured by their Southern Heritage. You can probably understand then why I was keen to meet them. And whether or not you’ve heard of them. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy meeting them to Rebecca and Megan level. Welcome to a breath of fresh air. How are you guys doing?



We’re doing great. Yeah.



Can you introduce yourselves?


Yeah, I’m Rebecca.


And I am Megan. I’m the older sister I play slide and Rebecca’s lead vocals and guitar. We grew up playing bluegrass in our early teens and loving mountain music and especially in the past few years, delving deeper into the blues because you know, we grew up listening to a lot of classic rock.


Growing up in the South, you’re so fortunate to be steeped in those musical traditions, you know, dip and down deeper into the Delta and the cradle of rock and roll and for us, that’s when our imaginations really took off. And to be artists that would continue that tradition of with American music because of course our dad like most American kids, I feel like our dad was playing his Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac and Black Sabbath and Rolling Stones Led Zeppelin like kind of a wash of rock music. You know, young teenagers we didn’t understand how heavily all these bands were pulling from the blues and so for us, trying to dive deeper into understanding the history of blues music and doing our due diligence and figuring out what it means to be locked in.

believe in I thought we might dig more into who the Allman Brothers were inspired by. And of course, that that led us to the turn of the century blues artists.


So you grew up in a house full of music, didn’t you?


Yeah, we grew up from three and four years old playing classical violin and piano. I remember from a very young age, being very moved by music, the experience of playing music as a child and the orchestral. Like the ensemble setting. I remember thinking that that was a very powerful experience to be a part of when it’s you playing your one small part in concert with many other people and really liking that feeling of heightened connection.


We both started at the same time when Rebecca was three and I was four years old. So really, there’s very few memories of not playing music. It’s always been a part of our lives. And I think the power of music really started to impress itself upon us probably when we were in our early teens, who began discovering like the love of music for ourselves.


Megan and Rebecca were raised with a big sister Jessica. As members of the local use symphony, they began singing in public with their church choir. The family heard its first bluegrass recording slide rule by Jerry Douglas and was inspired to check out the local traditional music scene.


No one else in our family outside of Megan, myself and our elder sister, Jessica plays music. But music was always being played, we’re lucky to have an upbringing where music was definitely prioritised.


You grew up from a very early age knowing that you were going to be musicians, right?


You know, not necessarily, both of our parents are actually in the medical field. Our father’s a physician, our mother was an occupational therapist. So I think for us to step out and pursue music as a career was a little bit challenging. Our parents have always been very proud of our dedication and our work ethic as it relates to music. But I think there was also a lot of fear and uncertainty about having made that choice. From our parents perspective for us as kids than just being concerned with the amount of travel we’re always gone, and how competitive the field is. Yeah.


Did I support you in the pursuit or try and discourage you? A bit of both?


Yeah. They’ve been huge supporters throughout the years, but also cautioning us to try and be smart about the decisions that we make. But they saw that we were really passionate from a young age and we work really hard. And we’re very diligent about our craft. So they they were very supportive when they saw that.


Yeah, you started off with your oldest sister Jessica, in a group called the level sisters, didn’t you? What ended up happening to that?


Well, it ran its course. You know, we play music for five years as a level of sisters. And we got to do some incredible things. We got to play National Radio Live in the US play a bunch of prestigious festival halls, play on the Grand Ole Opry and um, record and release a couple of records independently. So we learned so much from that experience, and our big sister taught us basically everything that we know in terms of running a band so we’re very lucky and I don’t think we’d be where we are today without those formative experiences with her.


think you know we were doing this so young when we got started touring 15or 16 years old. And it’s a strange way to make a living. And I think that our our eldest sister calves looking that she didn’t she didn’t want to be on the road all the time and to be in the public. I think that she just felt that she was going to be healthier. She stepped away from it. We definitely wanted to continue on just the tools. Because you know, we’ve been a package from the ground up. And we, it’s very natural for us to have continued that way into our adulthood.


Is it always been the companies that you’ve been so close and good friends? The three of you?


Yeah, absolutely. And I do think that when Jessica decided to remove herself from the music industry that really opened up a lot of space in our sister relationship, to be able to have more closeness. But I think that between Meghan and myself, you know, we are under two years apart, and we are very, very close. And it’s not going without his challenges. You know, I think we invest a lot of energy into our relationship, trying to see eye to eye trying to let our respect for one each other one at one another, be known, but I think that we understand that the gifts far outweigh the challenges in our relationship, the fact that we have been able to travel the world together and create a legacy with one another experience. This and it’s hard, it’s hard.


In 2005, the Lovell sisters won the Prairie Home national team talent competition. In 2006, Rebecca won a mandolin contest had 15 years old, she was the youngest person and the only female I my dad to have ever won that competition. In 2008, their song distance won that year’s John Lennon song writing contest, feels like it’s been a long time coming. But good things in life are the things that take time and commitment and showing up every day. And we were kind of a bit of a throwback, then like we’ve been, you know, touring kind of from the ground up, but we’ve definitely been working. Yeah.


And there are days when I don’t feel like writing songs. I would love to just like go for a hike or not even touching a guitar today. But I committed to this and I love it and you kind of like get into it and it pulls you right back.


Are you always on the same page musically?


I would say we’re always on the same page, maybe not the same word at the same pace. We know what we want to do musically. And luckily we’re our tastes are aligned.


well, I mean, your  history is phenomenal all the contests and the awards that you’ve won. Will you surprise that you have made the impact that you have? Or did you know that you had something special right from the outset? Hmm,


I think it’s been such a slow burn for us that I’m not even sure that we’re 100% aware of the impact that sounds a little bit strange to say out loud, but we’ve been working so hard for so long and for the for the right reasons. Like I think that we genuinely enjoy making music.


I think that we’ve gotten our fans one by one by one by one. Like Rebecca said, It has been a very slow burn.


Life on the Road is hard from the outside, it looks like it would be really glamorous. Is that difficult for you girls to manage?


Yeah, it definitely has been a lot to manage. And it is difficult. You know, I think that very rarely in life to good things come easy, which is so true for so many different people in different walks of life. But we are lucky that both of our partners are musicians as well and touring musicians that because at least there is that shared experience where they understand what we’re going through. And they understand that as you say it’s a lot less glamorous than it might seem from the outside because yes, it’s the jetlag is tough, and we’ve been dealing with the jetlag for the last 18 years now, of course.


So, Rebecca and Megan Love you unknown for that incredible slide guitar. Can you tell us a little bit about how and why you introduced that into the act?


You know, it’s one thing when your parent tells you to play the piano or to play the violin, but when you get to select your own instrument and you are making the choice for yourself, I do think that there’s another level of autonomy that kicks in and allows you I think, to understand the real power, we were growing up listening to acts like the Allman Brothers listening to Jerry Douglas, listening to David Lindley. So I think that we were always inundated with the sounds of slide guitar. When I saw the Dobro being played live for the first time, I kind of made the connection between the sound that I’ve been hearing and what the instrument actually was. And I was just so blown away so I tried to play guitar and mandolin and fretted instruments, but it was like something was missing. And when I saw the slide, I just knew that that that was the sound I’d been missing and so that I played dobro and then since we plugged in and become louder last year was just the obvious choice for me to step into.


I think slide is a very vocal instrument. Because it’s not threaded, you have so much more room to express with vibrato and sliding into and out of the notes that I view the slide is really my my voice in the band because Rebecca is the lead singer. And I love to sing harmonies with her there’s nothing like it. But really the slide is the way that I speak it within the within the band.


Megan level took to the slide guitar like a fish to water it gave the girls that missing element they needed to be able to play the blues they’d grown up surrounded by in an even more authentic way.


There was a transition in that I was not used to play plugging in and playing through an amp and you know playing with pedals and distortion on these these things these new tricks that you can kind of delve into I love the vocal quality of the lap steel and I did grew up listening to like Lynley so for me it was like this new love affair would have started out with realizing that these these songs that I was hearing like literally solo on running on empty not realizing that what that was then later on. Oh, it’s the lap steel. This is the sound that I’ve been looking for.


Yeah, you you tell us about the song writing process what does it look like for you guys?


We always ended up working together on songs we are true collaborators with the band and as sisters and as creative collaborators and producing our records now but um I am the main songwriter and I think that’s the beauty of creativity is that it never quite strikes the same twice. So someday you’re you’re struck by lyrical idea and the next it’s by the music and to me that’s what keeps me coming back is the diversity and being willing to let songs take root however they need and to be patient with it because that’s the biggest I feel like tool to learn as a songwriter as the patient’s anything we take away from the original we because we love old strip back lose recordings and how sometimes it’s just a guitar and a voice or just a voice. So we love that stripped back nature.


Musical bond that you share that oftentimes informs the gut instinct. And you know, we’ve known each other since we were babies literally. And so we know when each of us is being authentic. And so we have some sort of a barometer, like the BS barometer between us where we’re like, that doesn’t feel like us, or you’re kind of putting on airs with that, or no, your ego is getting in the way. That’s also a function of having done so many Tip of the Hats at this point, to learn ourselves better by learning other people’s songs. I mean, that’s how you get better at anything. We were building up the muscle memory of who we are as artists, and then being able to just sort of throw that blanket of Larkin power over someone else’s song. Rebecca, your voice has just become stronger and stronger over the years. And you seem to be able to express yourself even more deeply today, compared to what you were doing 10 years ago? Is that how you’d say it to?


It’s really nice of you to say, I do think I’ve gotten more comfortable with not being as perfectionist as a singer. I think when I was a lot younger, there was a bit of an obsession that I had with singing pretty. And I think over the years, being able to let some of that go and just be myself that I think has been the biggest shift in my, in my persona as a singer of being a little bit less control, freaky. And just digging deep into what I feel in a moment and letting that come through and how I’m singing. But I do think it’s just taken some time to continue to get more comfortable with just being seen, you know, being seen for who you are. I think we were kinda late bloomers, even I could say the last few years when we’ve really settled into ourselves and really settled into our own voice and just become comfortable because we’ve over the years we’ve played for a lot of people as well. We’ve been like backup musicians for a lot of people that say guys, which is great. It teaches you how to play well with others. Literally, we’ve gotten the chance to play with a lot of Legends.


Some of those legends include Keith Urban, Elvis Costello, and Bob Seger.


Back in 2017, we started our own record label. We started self producing our albums started learning how to trust ourselves and that our like our authentic selves really, really came out. Yeah, we started to have courage to let them shine.


But the music has also evolved over time, hasn’t it as a result of that?


Yeah, we’re very voracious. I think it’s in our desire to try new things. And over the years we have explored, explored a lot of different genres from you know from our beginnings. and more of like the folk pop stuff, to Americana. It’s through traditional bluegrass through harder rocks through a lot of different styles that ultimately all fall underneath the umbrella of roots American music. But I think that we have been really aggressive and like hard heart like seeking a lot of change. And I think that that’s really served us well over the years to more deeply understand who we are, because we’ve tried a lot of stuff. It’s like easier to sometimes to get to nose into yeses. And we’ve said a lot of nose over the years. And again, sort of turning inward and being like, what do we what do we really want to sound like? How do we want to record our records, when we started our own record label, that was a great turning point for us, because it was, it was sort of a trial by fire experience of, hey, we’re gonna remove everyone from the process. But the two of us, let’s see what happens. And turns out that was what we needed to have done, because it’s allowed us to have complete creative control. And I think that people can hear that in our records over the last four or five records that we’ve made.


Musically, I feel like I started listening to a lot wider range of music, and also trying to understand music history. So even just from the musical side of the equation had a wider vocabulary to pull from when fleshing out the reality of who I am as a singer, songwriter, and player

and then also kind of just making the decision to be self reliant. I think for us, we just kind of made that decision that we were going to start developing our boundaries.

How does that translate? Do you think in the music?


Well, I think whenever you get into the studio, and particularly if there are other individuals involved, when you’re musicians like my sister and I, over the years, a large part of the way that we have made our living is also acting as side guys, for other musicians, which means that we are, we’re really adept at being chameleons, we’re able to be like creative musicians and puzzle piece ourselves into whatever scenario is we’re trying to help us with creatively, which is a great skill to have. But inversely, I think when you have, for instance, a producer who has a lot of strong opinions in the room with my sister and I, and they’re espousing their beliefs about what the record should sound like, or what songs we should do, or how we should do them. We’re able to really like help facilitate that nice structure like, oh, yeah, that’s what you think here, we can make it happen. So I think in in making the decision to have no producer in the room, and to have it be just my sister and I, then we were able to call deep upon ourselves and remove any conflicting opinions that might water down the true essence of creatively what we are trying to achieve, that I was very certain at the time that self producing was going to be the way to go. And I think that made Rebecca maybe a little bit nervous at the time, but it has made all the difference. I do think that I was nervous. I but I think also there is it’s interesting to me that we are so close in age as sisters, but I’ve always been a little bit behind you. It is very true. I’m almost two years younger. So I think that you are like you are definitely starting to rock in your sense of self competence. Like, we don’t need anybody else. And also I think that we serve different roles in the band, but Megan is very intuitive. And I think Megan is willing to move a little bit slower and process things more fully. Whereas I’m like everything all the time, you know, very frenetic and last five years, I mean, we’ve really come into our own.


I think audiences can feel when it’s real. There’s just some element of truth in it. That came out of us when we started to produce our own records. And I think that the record started to become a little bit more raw and less polished. And that’s been something that we’ve tried to do with each consecutive record like, for real. Since 2017. A lot has happened, and a lot of growth for us. We’ve gone to selling out tours, which is not something that we had not experienced before the last few years, it’s been really exciting times 30:44

the energy of feeling something catch fire has inspired us to continue breathing on the flame. And I do think also, it’s like, we’re aware that while we are lifers for music, we will always make music in some form or fashion, we will always make music together, that life is not as long as you think it is turning 30 and 31 and 32 and 33. It’s like, okay, we’ve experienced a lot of life, and we don’t have as much time as we think. So I think feeling very motivated to just make stuff happen and experience all that we can experience.


You’ve been known for doing lots of different covers. How did you choose which songs to do?


When we started our cover video series, honestly, it was like a learning tool for us. Like you can learn so much about how to construct a good song when you learn some of the best songs that have ever been written. And a lot of those are just songs that we grew up listening to and some of our favorites throughout the years songs that we wish we had written. Yeah, we’ll just sit down and say what would be fun to learn today. And it happens really organically at this point, you have an absolute flavor. I mean, I think bell bottom blues is one of my favourites.


Bringing a whole new audience in with all of those cover songs to classic songs that perhaps young people have never experienced before. Do you find that you’re getting a lot of appreciation from that younger audience for that material?


You know, increasingly I would say yes. I do think that is one angle that roots American music can struggle and sometimes is reaching the next generation. Particularly in the United States, I think there’s not a lot of space on national radio, for music that skews outside of the urban or the pop scene. So I think being able to have access to social media as a connector to the next generation to be able to take this material and try to interpret it in a way that will capture people’s imagination, because I think what we’ve experienced is that one we do have an incredible cadre of, of young fans who are guitar players, and they’re really going to be the generation that’s keeping this these traditions alive and carrying the music forward. But more and more when we have the next generation listening to us, like the biggest feedback we receive is I had no idea that I would like guitar music that I would like rock and roll. And it’s just because its people aren’t exposed to it as much and there seems to be no stopping them back with more in a sec.


Welcome back. I’m chatting with Megan and Rebecca Lovell, better known as Larkin Poe, the sisters hail from Georgia, have been classically trained since age three and four. And taking the international music scene by storm. There’s a new album out at the moment called Blood harmony. And this I believe, is your own material for the very first time.


Yes, it is our own material. And that has always been like a huge goal for us with all of our albums is to have it be exclusively original material outside of like some maybe some traditional Americana or blues covers. But we are very much a touring band. So we we’ve been touring, we did tally it up and it is 18 years this year. So we spend the majority of our career out on the road playing live. But even with that being said, our persona in the studio has evolved over the years we’ve made records where I would program The jump was in Megan and I would take turns tracking instruments on top and having it be every conjured like musical experience. With blood harmony, the biggest shift that we made was in fact channeling more of that live energy that we have on the stage and it’s so rewarding to hear it because this is my favourite record that we’ve ever made. I think it’s because we made that decision to more closely align who we are on stage with who we are in the studio.


Georgia off my mind I think is a very clever song. Not just because the turn of the phrase but also because it does have significance for our biography. We were born in Tennessee, in coming to Nashville. It was somewhat of a homecoming early. Larkin, Poe Korea like the first four or five years we weren’t comfortable digging deeper into the roots side of our musical upbringing, the fact that we did play bluegrass when we were teenagers, there was always an element of like, Oh, it’s just not cool. And so I think in leaving Georgia and moving to Nashville, there was almost a sense of embracing ourselves becoming more comfortable with Hey, actually, we really love Americana. We really love blues. We really love roots, rock and roll.


Why blood harmony? Where did you get that title?


Because we’re siblings, and there really is nothing like singing harmony with your blood family. You know, some of our earliest memories are sitting at the piano with our mom learning to sing to end that’s just a huge part of who we are as a band. It’s really the center of everything. So we like to kind of channel that into our titling.


I think that there is a lot of magic surrounding sibling harmony. I think when people can sing well together, it’s because their voice is that more similar and it’s because we say our words the Same because we’re more intuitive. I think that siblings based on their the breadth of their shared history, if you have a close relationship there is that, um, the hopping on a brainwave, where it’s like, oh, I remember that time we and being raised by the same people too. There’s so much of that in simpatico thing that exists out there. It is magical, I think but also it’s very easily explained. I think from my own part, I do think that it’s a bit more special than just saying the words the same and but in blood harmony, of course, the song The title of the album, is about that that sort of kinship between us and it being unlike unlike anything else, yeah, it’s just a really special thing and it’s it’s something we talk about a lot and something that’s that’s very apparent in everything we do from from the music to the to the way that we build our whole band.


Do think that people find it very intriguing that we still do everything together that some people maybe can’t envision doing that. Imagine how it be possible because everyone knows what it feels like when you fight with a sibling and sibling rivalry. Like they’re very complicated relationships. So I think the fact that we have prioritized our relationship as sisters and really put our relationship before everything else, like if we’re upset with each other, we don’t make music in the same way. Because it just doesn’t work. It’s like if you’re Yeah, feeling competitive, and like turned off from somebody, then the audience can feel that you have to prioritize building each other up and being on the same team because it doesn’t work if we’re not

nice. You said that it’s your favourite album that you’ve ever made, because it more closely aligns with your live work. What do you mean by that?


The songs that always seem to be the most enduring for us the songs that really sing on stage and the songs that really seem to last in our set, or those that we can sit just the two of us with an acoustic guitar and a lap steel guitar, two voices, and you can hear that it’s us. And so I think over the years we become so much more strict in if the song can’t live in this format, this acoustic format then we don’t do it. But it needs the bells and whistles of production and it’s probably not good enough the songs not good enough. So on this album, I really feel that all of the songs we can sit and play for you right now in this room, and you could hear where all the songs are. pointing me to your favorite track on that album.


Oh, I think my favourite might be deep stays down simply because we were really patient with the writing and recording of that that song. And it took a while to get to where it is and I really love that we that we took the time to creatively pursue that that track and I love where it ended up. I think it’s it’s incredibly vibey that’s one of my favourites.


You know, I find it hard to pick a favourite because I think about the records that I love. And the records that really stick with me are those that you can listen from top to bottom. Every song like I think about rumours but a Fleetwood Mac that’s an album that you put on. And every song on it is quality. And I’m not comparing our album. It’s not on our friggin rumours by by Fleetwood Mac but I do think that the reason I like all the songs on our album is that they do tell a story and and it’s like them as a whole, even more so than just one stance and a load track because I would say everybody listen to the whole album.


Yeah, so it’s like reading a book like this. Listening to the entire story that you’re telling. Yes, ma’am. Yeah, I get it. Rebecca and Megan level, your call block and post. Tell us why you’ve called yourselves Larkin. Poe?


Larkin Poe is the name of our great, great, great, great grandfather. And we just, we wanted to take a name that had some family significance kind of tell the story that that we’re sisters in a way. And he was a cousin of Edgar Allan Poe. So kind of take that tenuous connection.


That’s amazing. Do you think that’s influenced you today?


I think it certainly had an impact. It’s even just like the drama of knowing that he was up in the family tree. I think there has been some trickle down some creative, very creative types, and tortured artists in our family.


Did you know that since you were little review recently found out?


We found out No, I would say our early teens. Yeah. And we had already been a fan of hers before that. So it was pretty cool to find out.


I bet it was. You’ve got a whole lot of very high profile admirers around the world, including people like Bob Seger, and our very own Russell Crowe. You’ve toured as backing artists for an array of industry icons, including Elvis Costello, and Keith Urban. Where do you see yourselves from here, girls,


I think doing exactly what we’re doing, but just doing it better and better. Again, I think that that’s sort of been our Mo. Since we started our tempo is the increase of small games, where it’s like, every year we get, we get a bit better every show we get a bit better every record we make, we’ve gotten better. So that’s what we want to continue to do. We want to be able to remain creatively engaged. And also, I think, I do think that from our perspective, you can get too big, it’s a gift to be able to have something to grow towards. I think that’s what what happiness is.


During the pandemic Larkin Poe recorded lots of impromptu performances, sometimes backstage before a show. And sometimes it’s a live stream, adding to a pretty large catalogue of covers that they’ve done over the last seven years. They choose songs they like songs they admire, and songs that mean something to them. The tunes they breathe new life into include a great version of the BG staying alive. Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, Chris Isaac’s Wicked Game, Chuck Berry’s Johnny be good.


what we want our music to do in the world I think is very similar we want to connect people and we want to connect ourselves to other people and we want to provide positivity for people like all of the big things we’re like very much on the same page sometimes there are differences in like how you get there because we’re very different energy


What about aspirations for families?


yeah, we want to have families. We want to be able to get to be multifaceted. You know, we have devoted so much of our lives and who we are into this band. It really is our baby. And we’re very, very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve with the integrity that’s important to us. And I’m very curious to see what the future holds for sure.


Me too, will be watching eagerly and listening to everything that comes from you, Megan and Rebecca Lovell, what an absolute treat to speak to you. I think that the biggest problem that you’re going to have is containing the Juggernaut but lock and poke can become if you don’t want it to grow too big and out of control. Just keeping it down might be your biggest challenge of all because your musicianship skills is just sensational.