SONG PREMIERE: New emo folk duo Twin Lakes from Milford come to terms with loss and ‘Forget’
So many great bands come out of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre that the surrounding towns and boroughs are often overlooked – or Northeastern Pennsylvania musicians just say they’re from one of those two so they don’t have to explain where their hometown is by pulling out a map.
The indie folk/emo rock duo Twin Lakes, however, put their home of Milford right in their name – and into their new single that they’re premiering today exclusively on NEPA Scene.
“The name came from a road that we live near. We were brainstorming one night and it just stuck,” vocalist/guitarist Austin Steiner began.
“Twin Lakes Road is the road that my elementary school was on growing up, and that whole area around two lakes is what really makes me think of what it’s like to live in the more rural area – peaceful, but a little lonely,” vocalist, guitarist, bassist, and keyboardist Jared Feldman continued.
“Folk-inspired emo rock would be a good way to describe [our music]. We both listen to a wide array of genres, so I think we tend to gravitate toward ‘pretty music with a little bit of edge’ as a way to describe it, or at least I do.”
“Honestly, I have a hard time describing our sound, but I usually say it’s a mix of The Dear Hunter and City and Colour,” Steiner said. “It’s difficult to describe it.”
“It’s a really cool dynamic, ballad-like song that’s about making peace with loss, whether it’s a partner, a friend, or a family member; it’s a reflection on loss and trying to cope and manage those things, and the fleeting bursts of feeling that come and go with that,” Feldman explained.
“’Forget’ has a split meaning, as I wrote the first half and Jared wrote the second half. I wrote it during a breakup, and it’s about having a hard time conveying your thoughts and realizing you weren’t perfect in the relationship, then coming to terms with the fact that the relationship has ended and you just need to give the person space to move on,” Steiner added.
“I think the overall theme of the song is just coming to terms with the end and trying to find peace in it.”
The pair have known each other for years and listened to a lot of the same artists, so they finally met up towards the end of the 2019 and started writing music, finding that they work really well together and deciding to share vocal duties.
“It’s a very collaborative project – we share the lyric writing, the melody/harmony ideas, the song structure. It’s a very free and open exchange of ideas,” Feldman said.
“For the first two songs, the main chunk of the songs were lyrics and very basic chord structures I wrote, but when Jared and I got together, he basically rewrote the music and we reworked the lyrics to fit the song better,” Steiner recalled.
“It’s an even split, though, and it makes the writing process feel very open and even.”
Their debut track, “Saint,” was “a mesh of ideas and lyrics” that they put together and released in February.
“‘Saint’ is about realizing you and the person you’re with can be bad for each other but continuing it anyways. The inspiration isn’t necessarily one situation or relationship by any means; it’s just summation of our experiences,” Steiner said.
“There’s themes of apprehension, lust, and awaiting dread that went into that writing process for me,” Feldman noted.
Both “Saint” and “Forget” were recorded in Feldman’s home studio in December and January, a special setup he calls Heavy Breathing Audio.
“Heavy Breathing Audio is my mobile studio concept. I went to school for audio engineering just after high school and decided to start this venture to make high-quality recordings available to everyone. My whole recording setup can travel with me, and I’ve recorded songs for artists in rehearsal spaces, basements, and bedrooms that rival radio-ready quality in the finished product. Almost all the recording, mixing, and mastering for both of the Twin Lakes releases was done in my home,” he explained.
“I started playing guitar when I was around two years old. I’ve been lucky enough to have a super supportive family that have really done all in their power to help me develop the craft of being a musician, including my stepfather, who is a professional musician.
“I like taking inspiration from my own experiences in life, but sometimes I’ll also draw from books or movies as well.”
Steiner also loved music from a young age, and as he “got older, I slowly started learning guitar,” he said. “Eventually, I started writing lyrics and music and made very rough recordings using free software and just kept going with that.
“I find that most of the music I write is sad, but it’s not by design. My writing process is very cathartic, and I tend to write when I’m feeling down; it’s easier to express my feelings that way.”
While they would like put a full band together for live shows, Twin Lakes works quite well as a DIY duo.
“We have some arrangements of the songs that work as a duo, but when we write and record, we don’t limit ourselves. We had some trumpet recorded for ‘Forget,’ but who knows if we’ll be in a position to perform with a trumpet player in the future? We’ll see,” Feldman said.
“Eventually, we will need a full band to play our full songs live. We are planning on playing live shows, but it’ll be stripped down and acoustic for now since it’s just the two of us,” Steiner said. “Of course that’s on hold because of the [coronavirus] pandemic.”
“As an audio engineer and freelance musician, it’s all but decimated my ways to make an income. I’m lucky enough to have family and friends that have helped me out in many ways, but it’s surely made things a lot harder for everyone in the music industry in a lot of ways,” Feldman noted.
“Unfortunately, music has been put on pause for now,” Steiner said. “I work in health care, so life is still super busy for me, and when I’m not at work, I’m trying to isolate as much as possible.”
That means their EP containing both these tracks is on hold as well as their plans to get more involved in the broader NEPA music scene.
“I just love the support that I see from artists in the area, especially all the collaboration. There used to be a lot of that in my area when I was younger, but it’s dissipated and I miss it,” Feldman recalled. “At this point, I just miss going to shows in general.
“Milford is strange in a way. It’s a very arts-driven town, but there isn’t really much of a ‘scene’ to speak of anymore. When I was 13 or 14, there were local bands and promoters in their 20s playing shows here, but once they stopped, all of it dropped off from there – nobody really passed the baton. I hope someone picks it back up at some point.”
“There isn’t much of a music scene where we live, but it would be nice to find like-minded musicians to connect with,” Steiner agreed.
“Again, Milford is a bit dull in terms of music. There are a few really talented people here, don’t get me wrong, but not many who play in a similar style as us.”
For now, Twin Lakes is just thankful that people can discover their music online, where hopefully it can help listeners get through these trying times.
“Personally, I just want to write and play music that resonates with people – music that gives you those goosebump feelings when it really connects with the listener,” Feldman emphasized.
“The main goal for me is just writing and making music that people can relate to,” Steiner left off.
“I’m realistic about the music industry, so I’m not preparing for us to blow up, but I’ll feel happy and successful if it can bring a sense of relatability and happiness to people.”