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CLEWS: Sisters make the best of rock bands

They say that sisters make the best of friends, but what of sisters in a rock band? Heralding from Mollymook and now based in Sydney, CLEWS answer that question with every new song that they release, proving that not only is it possible to make and perform music together, but that the music that they create can also hit close to home in a way that only a song written by two sisters can. Exploring how relationships affect their dynamic, one in love and one grateful not to be, each single resonates severely, as soft as the siblings’ duelling vocals may sound on first impression. With their new EP, Loveluck Omens, out now, we caught up with Lily Richardson about working with her sister Grace, how being single influenced this release and what’s next for the coolest act in this city.

How did you start off as a band? It’s you and your sister, right?

It’s me and my little sister Grace. We grew up singing together and everything, but when I finished school, I moved to Sydney for uni, you know, to spread my wings and fly a little bit. Everyone sort of moves away from town. I basically waited for her to finish school and for her to move up to Sydney and we got our little band going. We always knew we wanted to be a rock band, but we didn’t really know how, because we weren’t in bands at school or anything. We started off playing little pub shows, just the two of us, and then we made our friends play drums and bass for us and everything. We did a single upload to triple j Unearthed, and then followed the classic trajectory of finding a manager from there. We ended up getting a little team around us and figuring out, you know, how to be a rock band.

You’ve got this new podcast, Love Clews, about love, luck and relationships, which is also what you explore on your EP. So your sister is in a relationship and you’re the one that’s single?

It’s just that thing of like, maybe it’s because I’m the big sister, usually I’m the one who goes through all the big life moments first and then I pave the way for her. She follows in my footsteps, like a big sister/little sister dynamic, but now she’s having this life experience of being in love, like really her first big love, you know, which is a big deal, and I’ve never experienced that before. I’m so happy for her, and it’s so exciting, but it’s making me reflect on how long I’ve been single for and how, I don’t know, just how it’s funny being in your mid-twenties, just out here, you know, I’m out here on my own. I’m happy. But it’s funny having Grace’s experience be something to compare mine to, if that makes sense.

How do you navigate that?

All my friends are with their life partners, and I’m always the third wheel, the seventh wheel, the thirteenth wheel. I feel like most of the songs that I grew up listening to, or most of the songs that are lauded in the music canon as being the most amazing pop songs of all time, they’re always love songs. Do you know what I mean? I just feel like a love song is such a classic piece of art that lasts through the ages. And I, as a musician and a songwriter, I’m not writing love songs because I’ve never been in love before. Intellectualising my experience through that medium can be quite strange because the music I grew up on, those love songs, that’s not where I’m coming from. But I do love being single and I love being at shows, being like, “This song’s about being the thirteenth wheel and being single.” There are a few people in the crowd that are always like, “That’s me!”

Where do you want to get to? Was there ever a goal in mind or did you just want to play music?

That’s such a good question. We talk about that a lot because it’s sort of like, no matter what happens, we’re in the pretty lucky position where the band or making music is just something that we’ve always done. Even as little kids, singing together, it’s just something that we get to do anyway. Obviously, if people are listening along the way, that’s amazing, but we do have more freedom because it’s something that we’ve always loved to do. We’re always going to sing together. We’re always going to write songs. So in that way, there’s not too much pressure to try and fulfill a certain goal, but then at the same time, we’re ambitious people. If we’re doing something, we want it to be the best it can be.

What’s inspiring to you right now?

What’s really inspiring me is just all the energy that’s around women being in bands at the moment. I’m finding it very motivating to play shows and to write with Grace, obviously, but I just feel like we need to be a part of that.

Loveluck Omens is out now.