Dana and Lauren

Our latest feature has seen its fair share of transformation… but the results always stay the same: pure country success. The twin sister duo of Dana and Lauren have been tearing up and down the bluegrass/country charts since the age of 14 on the banjo and fiddle respectively – first calling themselves the Shankman Twins (you may have heard their tune, “Waterbound” – it spent 15 months on the Bluegrass Charts). Next up came a collaboration with their brother Michael called Malibu Storm with even greater results; the trio saw their single “Photograph” reach #2 on the Billboard country single sales chart with the music video climbing into the Top 20 Countdown on CMT and GAC.

Today, the sisters once again go on their own as Dana and Lauren… and they’re already very, very busy. Their latest EP release begins to take their sound in a new direction, as they explain: “Our sound is always evolving. Its foundation is bluegrass and since we play the banjo and fiddle that’s also a big part of our sound. With this album we wanted to expand on our bluegrass/country roots and mix in some rock, Americana and pop influences to create a cool, unique sound.  We also love so many different styles of music and one day we just started playing the riff to (Dr. Dre and Tupac’s) “California Love” and thought it sounded cool on the banjo and fiddle and we thought it would be a really fun and unique cover to do.” Seriously, if you’re not searching for this cover right now, you’re simply not a real fan of music. We have no doubt that Dana and Lauren will continue to see marvelous success in whatever the future holds for them, and after you read through the XXQ’s below, you’ll have a hard time disagreeing.       

XXQs: Dana and Lauren

PensEyeView.com (PEV):  With such a strong history in bluegrass and country with a modern swing, how would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?  

Lauren: We’ve been singing harmony together since we were very young kids so we know each other’s singing really well.  I think that gives a distinct sound.  I go above and below her in harmony throughout the song.  We also play banjo and fiddle and our sound has bluegrass roots with country, and a little pop and rock mixed in.  We like the way you describe it, “bluegrass and country with a modern swing!”

PEV: Playing the banjo and the fiddle, even at an early age, what kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence?

Lauren: We’ve always been into all kinds of music.  We loved country and bluegrass artists from a very young age like Dolly Parton, Ralph Stanley and The Judds just to name a few.   We also listened to a lot of Beach Boys and Everly Brothers and love their harmonies and duo singing.  Growing up we listened to everything from rock music to Irish music and old sea shanty’s to even soundtracks of Broadway musicals.

PEV: Having played in the business for a good time now, what was it like for you when you first started out?

Lauren: It was very different when we first started.  There was no Facebook or Twitter.   It was all about radio.  When we were really young we played the bluegrass festival circuit.  Then we started Malibu Storm we did the country festival circuit like CMA fest and the Grand Ole Opry, and did lots and lots of radio station tours.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

Lauren: Let’s check the sound!  

PEV: You both took a couple year, dual “marriage-starting a family hiatus” from music. How was that time for you both? 

Lauren: It was really great.  We both took time off and had our kids!   It’s amazing being a mom and we both love every part of it.  We love singing and playing for our kids now too!  During those couple years off we didn’t tour as much but still did some live shows. We also recorded this album during that time and our kids were with us in the recording studio, dancing and crawling around on the floor!

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs? 

Lauren: We would mostly say it’s just from living and experiencing life.  

PEV: Tell us about your latest release – an EP which features an acoustic, country bluegrass, banjo and fiddle inflected version of 2Pac and Dr. Dre’s hip-hop classic “California Love” as just one of the great aspects to it. What can fans expect from this work?  

Lauren: Our sound is always evolving.  Its foundation is bluegrass and since we play the banjo and fiddle that’s also a big part of our sound.  With this album we wanted to expand on our bluegrass/country roots and mix in some rock, Americana and pop influences to create a cool, unique sound.  We also love so many different styles of music and one day we just started playing the riff to California Love and thought it sounded cool on the banjo and fiddle and we thought it would be a really fun and unique cover to do.      

PEV: Do you ever find yourself getting writer’s block and if so, how do you get over that?

Lauren: Usually we take a break and then come back to it and hopefully it goes away.   If not, we take another break!

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Dana and Lauren?

Lauren: We love going to Disneyland.  We both have year passes.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?  

Lauren: All our family and friends have always been very supportive.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music? 

Lauren: We both love movies, going to the park or the beach and spending time with our kids. 

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

Lauren: Gram Rabbit.  They are actually an established band with a great following.  They are our producer Ethan Allen’s band and they are amazing! 

PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think you would be doing as your career?

Lauren: We really can’t picture ourselves doing anything other than music, it’s such a big part of our lives and we feel very fortunate to be able to do it. 

PEV: So, what is next for Dana and Lauren?

Lauren: Continue making music and recording for as long as we can!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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