KTJ & Carly

KTJ & Carly

Texas-native duo KTJ & Carly unveils their debut single “On Your Mind”.

The electro-pop single introduces the sisters as remarkable storytellers and artists.

“On Your Mind” became the start to an unforgettable adventure between a pair of twin sisters who are leaving a small town behind and deciding to chase their dreams. The song in actuality is about relationships, it's about curiosity of the unknown, it’s about magic, and it’s about toxicity. It’s about anything you want it to be. It’s up for interpretation,” says KTJ.

By blending soulful vocals with a very distinctive production, the promising duo is creating their own musical identity.

KTJ & Carly is a name you want to keep on your radar.

“On Your Mind” is now available worldwide.

Photo credit: Madelynn Elyse

Photo credit: Madelynn Elyse

Introduce yourselves - where are you from? 

KTJ & CARLY: We are from a small town called Argyle around 50 minutes outside of Dallas, Texas. Usually we just say Dallas because nobody knows where Argyle is unless you live in Argyle haha. It is a small town of 3000-4000. If you think that is small, five years ago we were a population of 2000. It has grown tremendously. 

What's your story? 

Carly: I knew I always wanted to be an actress, singer, or musician when I was very little. I always had a heart for the arts because it was centered around storytelling. It really intrigued me. Everyone from childhood to adulthood is taught to pull back emotions when they creep up. That is what I love about entertainment business. It’s all about raw and truthful emotions. While it sounds messed up, the idea that the entertainment business is about showcasing emotion, that isn’t what it is at all. It’s is so much more than that. Story telling, as fable-ish as it sounds, is always rooted in some kind of truth. That is why people connect to certain stories. Because people connect to truth and experiences that they sympathize or empathize. As I grew up and learned more about music, I learned that it isn’t about sounding amazing or about being the best in the room. It’s about story telling the truth. It's the heart of any piece of art: truth. And to define art is impossible. When I say truth, I don’t mean everything has to be literal truth. We literally have a song about murder in our repertoire and of course it is just a story; it’s not about literal truth but it is truthful in emotion. 

I grew up with mentors and different teachers in the business all throughout my life that always asked the same question: what is the definition of art? When someone asks that it can be very eye opening. It is nearly impossible to answer to fit everyone’s belief, but no matter what someone says, it is the truth so it can’t be wrong. 

In a nutshell, I learned over the years that my art is my truth. I had to understand that doesn’t mean it is everyone else’s truth if that makes sense. And that’s okay. I always am unapologetic in my art because it’s my truth and my story to tell. 

(Katie): When I was a little girl, I knew in my heart and soul I would always be a musician. I’ve taken piano lessons since I was in preschool, I started singing as soon as I was able to form words, I taught myself the ukulele, and if I wasn’t jamming out (still to this day) I was always listening to music. Being so young, I never questioned why I had this dying passion for music, it was just what came natural to me. At the same time, it’s also a challenge because there’s always room for improvement and lessons to be learned. Music makes me feel alive, who I am, and more than anything, music is an escape. It’s a safe place where I can express my feelings while leaving room for interpretation, so others can relate to the same emotions we all experience as humans in their own way. 

As time went on and I started growing up, I began to understand more about my emotions and what they mean to me, I realized the journey would not be easy. I don’t mind that, because this burning passion I have for music making is one hundred percent worth the hardships. My undying interest in music production, wanting to support myself as an artist, and help other artists make music and spread joy, lead me to take a summer course my junior year of high school at NYU’s music technology and production program, working with my peers and many industry professionals on how to make a hit song with very valuable production tips and advice. 

On top of becoming a self-sufficient artist, as we still learn and develop into better versions of ourselves every single day, I am aware and beyond blessed that we have each other's side to experience the good and bad in this industry, and in general. We’ve been through everything together. In the beginning of our musically journey, Carly was more into musical theatre and I was set on production, but we both wrote music. When we started writing together, we both knew it was what we were meant to do. I knew we would be able to accomplish anything we put our minds to as long as we have each other by our sides. We’ve written hundreds of songs and each one only gets better and better. I am so excited to see where we will go no matter what happens down the road, because as long as I have my best friend by my side we are ready for anything. Our manager, Sera Roadnight has helped us so much. We always had the artistry, but we never really knew how to share it in the right way with the world. Her knowledge has really guided us to the right direction for our future. 

Could you tell us about your childhood a little bit? 

(Carly): We were fortunate to have a very supportive family. We have a family of six, including us two. Family is one of the most important things in our life and always has been since our childhood. We have an older sister in NOLA and an older brother in Dallas. We did normal kid things in our childhood, went to a small school (same one from pre-K - 12) and spent a lot of time with family and friends. We had a lot of land on the first house we lived in. We moved to Argyle when I was 2 and we just recently moved around 3 years ago. So I spent all of my childhood there. We had chickens, horses, goats, and donkeys. That taught me a lot of responsibility at a young age. I loved it, and really miss it too. Some things different that we did as kids was we pursue our dreams a little earlier. So while some of my friends were doing normal age 8 things, I was at an audition, studying a script, playing a gig at some rinky dink mall with my sister, or on a set. While I had no clue what I was doing then, I loved it. 

(Katie): We were raised in a very family oriented house, and we were and are very loved. We would not be where we are today without our incredible, crazy, fun, and hard working family. My mom (Bonny) and dad (Jay), brother (Jayson (Jay’s son HA get it) and our older sister (Maddy) has supported us and our dreams ever since we discovered our passions, and we are so thankful to have them in our lives. Even when we would never shut up (stop singing or playing instruments for five seconds), they would rarely tell us to shut up, only if they were on the phone or something. When we would have people at our house, people would say “Do they ever not sing...?” And my family would respond with “Oh yeah, no not really I’m used to it now, this house is basically a musical.” People also say we should have a reality show. But I really have my parents to thank for everything I have today, because not only did they bless me with a life and a beautiful childhood/family, they are the ones who paid for my all of our acting and music lessons hehe. 

Are you coming from a musical family? 

Carly: Yes. Our family is very musical. I mean, I was named after Carly Simon, if that doesn’t tell you anything. My dad was in a rock and folk band in the 70s, 80s, & 90s and my mom’s dad was in a rock band all throughout the 60s-80s. They both really engrained a love for music making in my sister and I both. Everyone else in my family has a huge love for music and I always grew up around the house listening to classic artists like Jim Croce, Queen, David Bowie, etc. Almost everyone in our family plays an instrument. Almost every night my dad whips out his guitar and we have a family jam sesh. People who hang at our house for the first time think we are the Osmond Family haha. 

(Katie): 100%. If not every night, every other night we will jam sessions around the piano with our family and friends. Off of what Carly was saying about our dad, I first realized I got my musical genes from him when he showed me a music video he made when he was 17, to a song he wrote called ‘Country Sunshine’. He was raised in the country as a young lad, so it meant a lot to him. It was made in the 70’s, so it’s not the best quality by any means, but it’s so funny and cute, but still super honest. My favorite part in the video is when he throws a rock into this pond and you just see it plop in the water. It’s so dramatic and funny. I don’t own the video, but it’s most likely somewhere on my mother’s Facebook. 

When did you start singing and making music? 

Carly: Our love of music formed when we were super young. We grew up experiencing everything together since we are twin sisters. Our love of music was so much stronger at a young age because we had each other to share our passions with. We definitely loved working on music together since the beginning, learning new things, and sharing our discoveries about music. Our chemistry and bond as sisters made our music together so much more vulnerable and truthful. I started off learning how to play piano when I was five, but around age 10, I became fascinated with string instruments. I started violin lessons, and then I taught myself the guitar, mandolin, ukulele, and viola. I then started taking guitar lessons with Eric Keys recently. Katie and I both love learning new things about music theory and we constantly are trying to grow.
We both started voice lessons at a very young age. We first learned classical music: musical theater, opera, etc. Oscar Seung, a Dallas voice teacher helped us develop our voice for over 10 years. He is a great teacher and made learning more about music so much fun for us. 

Katie: We’ve been singing out the womb, but started lessons when we were eight after our parents realized what potential we had. When we were super little my two sisters and I would write songs as a joke and see which song was the best. They were all terrible because we were ages 7-10, but it honestly started my curiosity for how songs are made. I’ve had piano lessons since I could remember, sometime in preschool. By the time I was 15, being classically trained for so long, I decided to stop piano lessons, and started practicing new styles on the piano. I still continued voice with my teacher Oscar Seueng (he taught me piano, voice, and Carly violin), who has been such a blessing to us. I started writing music when I was 13-14, and started producing when I was 15-16, and really dove deep in production when I was 17. Ever since then we’ve been working hard to improve our craft everyday. 

When did you decide to fully pursue music as a career? 

Carly: I always knew since I was little that I would pursue some kind of career in music. As far as when I decided to fully pursue music as a career with my sister and create a band, was around Christmas 2018. That was when we met Sera Roadnight and she helped us create our band, branding, etc. She has helped us so much, we are so grateful for her. Throughout all of the beginning stages of branding and what not, we decided to fully embrace the opportunity life was giving us and decided to take the nontraditional route and skip a few years of college for now and move to LA and pursue our dream. 

Katie: At a young age, I always knew that music was going to be apart of my career. There was no question, it was just what came natural to me, but as I said before, was still a challenge, something that motivates me to be better everyday. I never knew how I would get there, whether college would lead me there or if the universe would work together to open doors. Luckily, the universe did! I was blessed with a twin sister to help push and motivate me (vise versa), and we both met the lovely Sera Roadnight who has been nothing but amazing and helpful in leading us on this amazing journey. 

You covered a few songs on your Youtube channel. In your opinion, what makes a "good" cover?

Carly: It is funny that you ask this, because I was honestly wondering the exact same thing for a while. My best friend had said something to us that really helped with the quality. There was a cover that we posted and we weren’t happy with it. She told us, “I just love it when you guys are being yourself, not trying to just make a cool video,” and that is the best way I could answer that. In my opinion, what makes a “good cover” is just being yourself! Don’t try to sound like the original artists, don’t try to sound like someone you aren’t, and just be yourself. Sounds kind of cliche but it's true. 

I saw this video of David Bowie on twitter one time and it really stuck with me. He talked about ‘never playing for the gallery.’ What that means is never work for other people at what you do - always remember that the reason that you initially started working on a project or dream: “there was something inside yourself that you felt that if could manifest it in someway you would understand more about yourself and how you co-exist with the rest of the society, And I think it's terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations, I think they generally produce their worst work when they do that.” That is exactly what happened with us. We were trying to take the advice from all sorts of people around us who didn’t know what they were talking about. It ended up not working out. I mean, of course, it wasn’t the end of the world. But After that, I saw that video and we decided to just be ourselves and stop worrying about it anyone liked it. It ended up producing better videos. The same goes for all areas of creativity. The best work an artist can produce is when it comes from within them, rather than creating something so others will like it. 9 times out of 10, the best work will be the authentic one. And hey, not everyone is gonna like our stuff, and that is okay. Art is subjective to everyone and that is the beauty of it. It can mean different things to different people and can attract or repel different people. “If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in - go a little bit out of your depth. And when you feel your feet don't touch the bottom you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” 

You’ve just released your debut single. How does it feel? 

Carly: It is absolutely insane. We have been working on this song for a while now and we never showed anyone original songs before this. It is surreal that we are finally “doing” instead of “talking” about it, you know? 

Katie: I don’t even know. It’s so crazy to think that people are going to hear something we made. I’ve heard it so much from creating it that I don’t hear the same as everyone else, it’s like when you hear your alarm go off every morning that you’re used to it; NOT in the way that you wanna throw it off a cliff and go back to bed, I just hear it differently. All I know is that I am seriously so freaking excited!!! 

What's the story behind "On Your Mind"? 

Carly: Our music and songs are always up for interpretation and we want the listener to find a connection to the song in their own way.
That being said, the story behind “On Your Mind” is interesting, because it is from two points of views. (Literally) I say this because we both have been in the shoes of both sides: being attracted to a guy who is a distraction and being the sister/friend that tells the other to cut him off. The way that we interpreted the song was the first verse talking about how they are intrigued by this guy/girl who is mysterious and suave, and how they are attracted to them. Then in the pre-chorus realizing their distraction and the chorus, the second verse, through the end almost work as a timeline. Someone starts off fascinated by their S.O. and then they come to find that they are just a distraction and selfish. They are people who think that everyone benefits when they are around when in reality they only hold you down. 

Katie: This song really opened up my eyes to a whole new way of music and producing. The song is not just a bop, but it set up the beginning of some incredible hits we have lined up to release next, and it wouldn’t have been possible without this song. The meaning behind it and where it has lead us has such a huge place in my heart, therefore I felt it was necessary to release it first. “On Your Mind” became the start to an unforgettable adventure between a pair of twin sisters who are leaving a small town behind and deciding to chase their dreams. The song in actuality is about relationships, it's about curiosity of the unknown, it’s about magic, and it’s about toxicity. It’s about anything you want it to be. It’s up for interpretation. 

When did you start working on this particular song? 

Katie: I started this song the summer after my junior year of high school. This song's just the start of a dope lineup of songs I’ve produced, so just wait for what you’ll hear next. 

Since I’ve finished this song, I’ve learned so much more about production and I still am everyday, and it makes me so excited and curious as to what kind of music I’ll be making when I’m super old. I really am my worst critic and I will probably never be satisfied with a song of mine, but this song really showed me the potential I held and introduced me for what is to come down the road in the music producing world. 

Could you describe us the songwriting/production process? 

Carly: It is different depending on who we write with, where we are, and what is happening in our life. I always write down phrases in my notes and always keep lyrics in my back pocket, but when it comes to writing sessions, we write very collaboratively. First, figure out a chord progression for any part of the song. Sometimes it is the verses, chorus, bridge, or even an outro, but we figure out some kind of progression. Then, we figure out what it is that we want to write about and the story we want to tell. After that, we pick up where we left off of the progression and start writing the first verse. Typically, it’s music then the lyrics. It just makes it easier in case there are too many syllables. Then we move on to the chorus, bridge, second verse. After we finish, we go through the song and make edits. One thing that we always do when writing music is use a piano. It is the best instrument to write music, hands down. We are also always open to stepping out of our comfort zone and try to spice things up with our writing style. 

Katie: Sometimes I will randomly get melodies in my head, record it on my phone and go straight to the piano to write. Other times, I play random chord progressions and come up with melodies as I play. 

What do you want people to feel when listening to this song? 

Carly: Our intentions for this song are a multitude of things. Like we said before, our music is always up for interpretation. All art is, of course.
We want people to feel inspired, to feel understood, or maybe just to feel happy, sad, or content. For example, I personally listen to music to connect to the lyrics, and use that as an outlet or an escape. I want people to feel that they can escape the harsh world to our music. The best moment is when you can find a song, and it's almost like it is speaking directly to you. That is what we are aiming for; for “On Your Mind” to be a safe haven. 

Katie: I want people to feel like they have the power and freedom to be and choose who they want to be and what they want to do in life. I want people to know that no matter how hard it gets, no matter who gets in their way to try and bring them down, that they have the right to get rid of the toxicity in their life, because all anyone deserves is what is best for them. 

What do you like most about this song? 

Carly: My favorite part is the choir-sounding-bridge part.
It feels so full and different. I feel like it is different from a lot of mainstream stuff, especially our new stuff we have written. We kinda dipped our toes in the water with “On Your Mind”, playing opposites when it comes to message, production, and sound. With our new stuff, we have some very dark and sad songs over super upbeat and happy production and vise versa. I think it gives songs an interesting twist. 

Katie: What I like most is the end of the song. The vibe towards the end is different from the rest of the song, and it hits differently. 

What can you tell us about the artwork for the song? 

Carly: It is actually funny because we tried SO hard to get this picture. We were looking at different photographers work, trying to get inspiration. We found one picture of these two girls (similar to the single art) and we thought, “Oh! This will be easy to get!” Yeah, right. So as we are taking it we just can't get it right. It was not working at all. Then we thought... maybe they did this in post editing? Anyways, after spending 20 minutes on one single photo, we finally got it, thanks to the wonderful photographer Madelynn Elyse! In my eyes, the picture symbolizes how the point of view of the song is being told from two people but there is one message. Our work is always up for interpretation though. 

What do you want to achieve with this single? 

Carly: Our end goal with every song we write is to reach the people’s hearts. Of course, we want to get traction in the industry from this song, but the reason that we began this journey was to create meaningful art. We want to achieve that exactly: art. That is what music is: art. And it is so important for people to hear, see, and feel art. Because you never know who it can save. As far as the industry goes, since we are just now beginning on this journey, we aren’t expecting that much. We expect a lot more for our upcoming releases after “On Your Mind”, as our production and writing skills have tremendously improved since then. We are always trying to grow and always trying to improve. 

That being said, we are very excited to just get it out and release our first single, and to start the beginning of a great career/future. Hopefully, we can achieve some traction in the industry. 

Katie: I want to give the people something to listen to in the car with their best friends on an unforgettable road trip, something to listen to to make them feel less alone after a break-up, and a reason to keep moving in order to live their best life; unapologetically happy and free. I want people to not be afraid of being themselves, and to let them know that even though there are times where the idea of moving on from something seems absolutely impossible, to know that it will always get better. That no matter what beliefs someone has, with something bad there's always something beautiful and great that comes with, that life is too short to worry about what anyone thinks of you, whether it be social media, at school, at work, and all around you. 

As producers, what equipment and software do you usually use? 

Katie: When I was younger, I started off with garage band just messing around. After a week of none stop grinding I noticed how immature garage band was so I downloaded Logic. I have used Pro-Tools several times but I find that logic works best for MIDI inputs. 

Carly: Logic is really great for song writers because of the fact that we always start of with a song on the piano. A structured great song should always be able to be performed acoustically on a guitar or piano. I saw this because Logic is much more user friendly to us than other softwares when it comes to stuff like MIDI inputs and plug-ins. 

Who are some of your biggest musical influences? 

(KTJ & CARLY): We have so many. When we aren’t making music we’re listening to it. This is just a few. If I named them all, it would become of textbook of artists. 

Tame Impala, Odesza, Foster the People, RÜFÜS DE SOL, SALES, Skrillex, MØ, Phish, J Balvin, Beyonce, Alicia Keyes, John Mayer, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Chloe x Halle, Billie Eilish, Galantis, Ellie Goulding, Calvin Harris, Alison Wonderland, Diplo, Sia, Jessie J, Harry Styles, Tom Misch, Tyler the Creator, Vampire Weekend, The Weeknd, The 1975, Chet Porter, Chainsmokers, Zara Larsson, Julia Micheals, Zedd, Willow Smith, Labrinth, Lady Gaga, Marian Hill, Lana Del Ray, Lorde, Louis the Child, Mac Miller, Maggie Rogers, Moby Rich, Oliver Tree, Petit Biscuit, Post Malone, Rich the Kid, Rihanna, The Beatles, Dua Lipa, Bebe Rexah, BROCKHAMPTON, Illenium, FKA Twigs, Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, The Flaming Lips, Flume, Flux Pavillion, Frank Ocean, Glass Animals, J Cole, Jhene Aiko, Bazzi, Noah Cyrus, Tove Lo, David Guetta, Khalid. 

As artists, what are your ultimate goals? 

Carly: My ultimate goals as an artist is to really understand people. I feel that a lot of artists, I can’t connect to them because they don’t act human if that makes sense. They are so caught up in this glamour world that it’s hard for people to connect to them. It’s not real. That’s my ultimate goal as an artist: to be real. To be truthful, real, and passionate and connect and inspire people through our music. 

In your opinion, what would make the world a better place? 

Carly: The world would be a better place if people learned the concept of respect. Most people think that respect must be earned, but that is not the case. Respect should always be given. Respect can be lost, not earned. If people were just nice to everyone no matter what they believe in, instead of just bashing each other and waiting for their respect to be earned, then there wouldn’t be as much hate. I also think if the world accepted the idea of change a bit more. Everyone in the world, especially where I am from believe that every little girl should go through grade school, sweet and innocent. Highschool, prim, proper, good grades, quiet, etc. Go to college, marry, and have kids. Then repeat the same thing with their little girls. So many people freaked out when I told them I wasn’t going to college right away. That I wasn’t going for a traditional job. That I wasn’t going to live a traditional life. I think the world needs to learn the concept of respect, that change is OKAY, and that people SHOULD strive to live a nontraditional life. 

Katie: I feel like as technology becomes more advanced, people are becoming more and more impatient. Back in the day you would have to wait forever to get something, and now, everything is about instant gratification, which is convenient, but also terrible. If people had more patience, not only would the world be a calm and serene place, but stories through music and art would be something even more extraordinary. 

If I could change the world in any way, I would make sure people know that technology should be a tool, not a weapon. If people put their phones down instead of watching Tik Tok and Youtube all day for no benefit (I too am a culprit), actually experience what is around them, and engage in thoughtful conversations, they would actually notice and care more about the negativity in the world around us. I try my best to not get on my phone as much as possible. I love the communication aspect of course, but to a certain point they hold so much distraction. Life is too short to throw your life away to a little screen. I also think everyone should stop victimizing themselves because the fact that we were given life in the first place is beyond extraordinary, and we should be thankful to be alive. No matter what condition you’re in, whether it be good or bad, there’s always going to be better and worse. So just be thankful and love unconditionally. 

What biggest life lessons have you learned so far? 

Carly: One of the biggest life lessons that I have recently learned that made a huge impact was something a voice teacher told me... or showed me. Before I decided to pursue this particular career, I was going to study musical theatre. She told me something and it really stuck with me. She first showed me this video of Jayne Houdyshell singing Broadway Baby from Follies. I wasn’t sure where she was going with it, but I enjoyed it. After the video finished she asked me about my thoughts on the video. I told her that I thought it was funny and entertaining, I really enjoyed the video. After my peers had explained more about the performance, not saying anything bad about the video, she asked me what I thought about her voice. I was a little shocked because I had not really thought about it. I thought the video was so entertaining, I didn’t care that her voice wasn’t as good as Whitney Houston or Adele. She told us, as long as you have a story to tell, that is all that matters. Your real “voice” is what your voicing, not necessarily what your real voice sounds like. Now of course, it is a completely different career than what I am doing now, and what my vocals sound like does matter tremendously in this industry, however, I think it still somewhat applies to everything I am doing. I think that as matter as the story of the song and what is rooted behind the lyrics are number one priority, everything else will follow. It is what makes the difference between a singer/musician and an artist. 

Katie: I have had my highs and my lows, and here is what I have learned from life so far: 

1: You can’t expect anything to be handed to you; ESPECIALLY if you don’t put in the work x100.
2: You can’t plan out everything; life is unpredictable and not everything is in your control, so live in the moment and be free.

3: If something is out of your control, don’t worry about it and just let it be. Stay peaceful no matter what and you will turn out a winner.
4: Trying my best to look at everything on the bright side of life and surrounding myself with people who ACTUALLY care and wish the best for me, not just someone who gives me a temporary “good time”, but is willing to tell me when I’m wrong and show tough love. It's a lot easier to go through life trying your best to be happy instead of spiraling down into sadness. 

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Amy Peters

Amy Peters

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ÊMIA reveals debut EP "Little Secret"