TJ West Interview with the Heartache Sisters


TJ West Interview with the Heartache Sisters

By Kim Grant

Tell us who you are and what you do?
We’re Laura Benitez and Michele Kappel-Stone and together, as Heartache Sisters, we’re a close harmony country-folk-pop duet. We’re multi-instrumentalists with influences in Americana, 60s/70s popular music, folk, and early rock-n-roll.

How did you get into this line of work?
Heartache Sisters started as a side project of our 5-piece classic country band, Laura Benitez & the Heartache. Playing as a duet let us showcase the larger group’s music with smaller, lower volume shows, but HS quickly grew to have its own character, sound, original songs, and adventurous spirit.

We each come from lively past projects. Michele performed as uke-slinger Tippy Canoe and was a member of Sympathy For The Record Industry’s garage-pop princesses, The Kirby Grips. Laura trained as an actor, spent four years as a clothing designer, and is a former member of Bay Area country band The Cottonpickers.

What do you like about it?
Laura B – As a vocalist first and foremost I love how playing acoustically really lets the voices, harmonies and songwriting shine.

Michele – I love performing as a streamlined duo and flying without a net. We have a strong connection and the energy shoots back and forth between us and out to the audience.

Who writes the songs for the Heartache Sisters and what is the process of setting lyrics to music?
We write songs individually and arrange them together.

Laura B – For me, the lyrics always come first. If I try to start with music I end up re-writing the 1812 Overture by mistake. Usually I’ll start with one line or idea, and if it’s strong enough it will turn into a song. Then I’ll sit down with the guitar and work out a melody.

Michele – The melody and chord progression hits me first and with obsessive repetition and using whatever inspires me in my life, the words lay themselves into the melody and it grows into a song.

Which instruments do you each play?Heartache Sisters 2
Michele plays guitar, drums, ukulele and washboard.
Laura plays guitar, drums, shaker, and soon will be adding mandolin.

What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?
Americana is a wonderful catch-all word. We keep ourselves free to let a variety of styles seep into our music, but our hearts are rooted in classic country and 60s pop.

What’s the San Francisco music scene (in your genre) like?
It’s a friendly mix of styles. There isn’t one overriding sound. Bands in the Americana genre here play everything from roots country to soul. There’s no shortage of truly talented players and songwriters.

What’s up next for the Heartache Sisters?
We like to have fun and we’re going to celebrate the hell out of our debut singles (released on July 15th, 2014) for a good, long time. Why not? Life is short – let’s get our kicks while we can.

We head to Fresno (7/18) and Pasadena (7/19) for a pair of California Roots Union Showcases (what a fantastic organization) and then it’s lovely Los Angeles (7/20) at The Grand Ole Echo. We have our homecoming/release party/benefit for and at PLACE for Sustainable Living on 8/9 in Oakland. Then we’ll keep the cycle going of making more music, videos, touring, and having adventures.

Speaking of that, folks can visit our website to sign-up for our Heartache Adventurelogue and get a photo recap of the past month, exclusives, find out what we’re listening to, and peek at what is coming down the pike next.

TJ Admin

TJ Admin

It’s Gonzo Journalism meets Outlaw Country as TJ Music Magazine – Turnstyled, Junkpiled shakes things up in the Sin City and beyond. “Waiting for the day when they stop calling it Americana and start calling it Country again.”
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