Few artists are lucky enough to have the chance to work with their twin sister. It’s an opportunity that KTJ & CARLY don’t take for granted. “It’s so fun! We can be 100% real with each other, and we are like snowflakes from the same snowball. The same, but different. It can be hard too. Growing up we always had our petty sister arguments, but we are here to do the damn thing and we won’t let that get in the way of our vision/mission,” KT explains. Carly adds, “Exactly like she said. We trust each other more than anyone and that’s really all you can hope for in a band mate/partner. The bond we have is eternal and it makes us so much more special when we make music.” They enhance one another’s musical perspective through a fusion of eclectic taste. “Carly loves pop artists like Banks, PVRIS, and PJ Harvey… and I love soul/punk/indie. I feel we bring those two worlds together which is cool,” enthuses KT. Carly underscores the depth of their soul connection. “Like I said before, our bond is very special. I say this literally and metaphorically but we are like sisters. We are each other’s best friends and trust each other with our lives and that’s how it is as collaborators and twins.”
The duo is elevating their collaboration to a new level with their sophomore EP, Ego Death. Carly describes it as a descent into the self. “Our new EP, Ego Death, goes through all five layers of the ego. As we journey through the song, it covers all the layers that need to be shed to truly experience self-actualization. We talk about money, relationships, self-care, passion, and perspective.” The title references the immense potential one can discover if they are willing to totally detach from their ego.”The entire idea behind Ego Death is the complete loss of subjective self-identity. When someone loses the thing that builds their ego, they can be reborn into their highest self. Every song on this EP represents those layers that build an ego. Hence, the song title,” Carly says. According to KT, it also reflects the bubbling up of existential dismay. “I feel like this EP was just a diary entry of a transitional time in our life filled with doubt and confusion. I was feeling kind of pissed off realizing the world is driven by money and power, and those people in power thrive by keeping everyone else doubtful and confused. Everything is gatekept, because people want to feel important. The truth is, yes, we are all important, but we are small specks in the universe. The least we can do is acknowledge that and just be decent human beings. My older sister told me once, we don’t have to have everything figured out! As long as we’re decent human beings, then it’s okay. The EP is an auditory representation of that. Most of these tracks are mid tempo but I feel like it’s got some sad girl vibes. I’m excited for what is coming next and that I’ll be able to look back at this EP in the future and see it as a reminder to not let others bring me or my loved ones down.”
Many of the tracks embody hard life lessons, but one song in particular is most meaningful to both sisters. KT uses it to remind herself to stay grounded. “‘Signing Off’ is most significant to me. I feel like it’s so important to unplug from social media and things like it. Everyone living a perfect life is such a lie. Just because someone posts a beautiful picture doesn’t mean you should follow their influence. It’s important to trust your own intuition. Other than that I would say ‘Pink Ferrari’ or ‘Heartless’. For ‘Pink Ferrari,’ it was the moment I realized that it’s ok to be sad or anxious in life, and all feelings are valid, and to know that you never know what someone may be going through. It’s important to be curious in people’s lives and not judgmental. I feel like when people are open with mental health matters, it allows for more room for growth. Awareness is key. We played a sofar sound show once, and someone asked us if we made it big, what we would do with that success and how we would view this song. I see it as a reminder of where I came from, and I will never ever allow myself to become the troupe in heartlessness, and to never let someone like that walk all over me.’
Carly expresses similar skepticism of the glossy Instagram posts and notes the inevitable human toll of feeling the pressure to maintain such a perfect image.”I’d also choose ‘Signing Off.’ To me it’s all about mentally and physically not being able to finish what you need to do. Like Katie said, social media is a big part of it. Today, everyone on social media seems to be doing everything and having their life together. It seems impossible to keep up with sometimes. The online world expects you to be pretty, successful, have a lot of friends, have good fashion, go out a lot, have infinite quality content… even though it sounds too good to be true, it’s hard to realize most of it is not 100% authentic. So in lieu, it’s easy to overwork yourself to keep up with the glamor of a ‘cool life.’ But when you do that, it ends up being detrimental physically and mentally… and the only thing you can do is just sign off for a bit.”
The two are frank about where they are in each of their respective journeys of ego death. “I feel like I’m in a place where I’m not doubting myself, I’m instead seeing potential in myself and finding validation from myself. I’m riding along with a growth mindset. It’s so crucial in life; with friends, family, at work and my music career. I feel like the possibilities are endless, and no matter what, I’m surviving and doing what I love to do. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters,” KT says. Meanwhile, Carly admits the road might be a little longer for her. “Honestly, I’m far from it. I wish I could say the opposite but I still have a lot of work to do. I definitely don’t care about what others think as much as I used to and I have figured out my place in the world, but the security and physical aspect of it still get me. My spiritual and individual desires are all in line but sometimes my social desires (money, honor, control, knowledge, etc.) cloud my judgment. I think it’s incredibly difficult to completely not care about that but that’s also what we talk about in the EP. It is no easy task being rid of your ego, but I could imagine it would be freeing.”
They are realistic about their egos being a natural part of life, but they are determined to instead allow their art to be guided by the inherent connectivity of universal emotion. “There’s so many positives but I feel like there’s also a part of having an ego that could be good for a certain person. That sounds horrible to say but it’s a catch 22. For example, in our song ‘Heartless,’ the person we sing about was so driven by money and success that they did make tons of money, which sounds really nice on the surface… but we learn that in the end it left them with no one to love. Overcoming your ego means you don’t care about money or materialistic things. To not care about having money or fancy things but only having love and a spiritual surrounding sounds not only beautiful but inspiring. Creatively, I mean. I think going forward in our career, having a life that is inspiring is better than having money any day. I think a lot of artists, especially today, will try to just write a hit song instead of writing from the heart. I think as long as your heart is in the right place and no ego is involved in the creation of art, then you will never get sick of it,” muses Carly. Much like her EP, KT waxes introspective: “There’s no such thing as releasing your ego 100%. It’s always going to be a part of our biological frame, but there would be many positives if everyone did. We live in such an individualistic society, and it feels like nobody knows what to do even though the answers are right in front of our faces. This is controversial, but the fact that reporters were interviewing the kids from the shootings this month, asking them to describe and relive their trauma, just so we know what happened, instead of doing something about it. Society is faced with the paradox of choice, while the world is on fire. Releasing our ego would take that away and even if no one else did it, I believe it would make our careers so much better. When we create we never do it from a place that is ego driven, or else we would never be satisfied. We never create for others – we create from our heart in hope that others will also relate and feel it in their hearts.” As long as they continue to lead their art with their heart, they can never steer themselves wrong.
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KTJ & Carly Break Down Self-Identity in Sophomore EP, “Ego Death.” Photo Credit: Joseph Lee.