Identical 23-year-old twins Miranda and Elektra Kilbey, the airy pop duo Say Lou Lou, skipped out on college just a few years ago to explore their musical leanings in London and Silver Lake. Known for their breathy vocals and polished grooves, the pair were weaned on rock. Mom Karin Jansson was in the punk band Pink Champagne; dad is Steve Kilbey of the Church. This spring, they do their parents proud as their first album, “Lucid Dreaming,” drops stateside. We caught up with the duo on tour in Stockholm to talk art, fame, and freeing the female nipple. Just don’t ask them which one’s the naughty twin.
Miranda: I was named after Miranda from The “Tempest.” It’s Latin for “worth admiring”—not that I’m claiming it suits me!
Elektra: My name is less beautiful and more aggressive, after the character from the Greek tragedy. Elektra kills her mother, so it’s quite a heavy name. Miranda had the sweeter name and perhaps the sweeter personality.
Miranda: We both have a lot of dark and light inside of us. We’re kind of like a roller coaster: slightly bipolar. We can be quite nice or quite standoffish.
Elektra: People think we’re colder than we are when they’ve only
seen us in photos. I guess that’s because our aesthetic is quote “stylized.” But we’re very chatty; we can be silly and hyper. And the next second, yes, I suppose
a bit reserved.
Miranda: Our creative relationship is 50-50. It’s fantastic because we have each other, we know
each other, we’re really in sync. But we also get really annoyed with each other.
Elektra: In terms of the creative, we’re very effective, but in terms of spending a lot of time on the road…it can get tough. We annoy each other. We have our own flats. Miranda has a lot of decorative porcelain cats, paintings, and flowers and stuff everywhere; I like keeping it more sparse.
Miranda: There’s not “stuff everywhere”! It’s just more colorful.
Elektra: Sydney and Stockholm, where we grew up, are so different in their mood and temperature, and that’s kind of a current that runs through our music. Australia is laid-back and playful. Stockholm is more polished. A lot of perfect pop music comes out of Sweden, but we like to undercut it with something imperfect.
Miranda: Our parents are musicians, so we knew from a young age that if we were going to pursue something cultural, it was going to be music.
Elektra: We listened to a lot of Kate Bush and David Bowie, and they kind of stuck with us. We’ve had similar tastes our whole lives. There’s always some sort of surrealism, a dark side, a ’70s decadence in what we like. When we write songs, if there are upbeat lyrics, there’s a melancholy feel to it. And if the song is more upbeat, we go a little off with the lyrics.
Miranda: I would call it dream pop. I have a hard time explaining it in any other way. But I would add noir at the end.
Elektra: It’s ethereal pop.
Miranda: In terms of fashion, we see clothes more as costume, like a performance artist might.
Elektra: We’ve been sticking to the ’70s as our inspiration.
Miranda: Everything seemed possible then, from free love to female liberation. That era had something we won’t have again.
Elektra: Our video for “Games for Girls” captures some of that, playing around in a carefree manner about the female body. It was a commentary about being in control of who you are and your body—putting the control in the hands of women. If you want to be nude, you have the right to do it on your own terms.
Miranda: We aren’t afraid to be political. It’s feminist, but in a playful way, like [the social movement] Free the Nipple. Why should a woman’s nipple be sexualized when a man’s is not?
Elektra: There are so many misconceptions about female artists. People sometimes imagine that we couldn’t possibly be doing everything on our own. Someone must be writing our music for us, say, or calling the shots behind the scenes. In reality we’ve wrangled every single thing.
Miranda: The moments when we’ve felt like “Wow, we’ve made it” are the moments when we are onstage performing in front of a huge number of people. You slip into a character.
Elektra: But we’re very self-critical, so we haven’t really had those moments of “This is it.” We always want to get better.
Photos by Photographed by Philip Gay