Make it, release it

Between Friends: the sibling duo soundtracking your relationship highs and lows
By J.L. Sirisuk | Music | 24 June 2024

Photography by Cobrasnake

Scrolling through the YouTube comments feed for Between Friends’ catchy-as-hell track affection, fans compare hearing the song to dropping pills, to summer nights, to primitive humans first discovering fire, and to the emotional flood of losing ‘the one’. Needless to say, the band’s singular blend of bedroom lo-fi and effervescent pop really takes you places.

Formed by Laurel Canyon-based siblings Brandon and Savannah Hudson, Between Friends’ vibrant sound has been brewing since childhood: since spying on their parents watching Sopranos, growing up in an eclectic household soundtracked by everything from “Daft Punk to Fleetwood Mac”, and since watching the rave scene in Doug Liman’s 1999 film Go and being hooked. Guided by a desire to follow their own rules, in 2018 they began releasing tracks online, seducing a digital generation with their bedroom-pop nostalgia and 90s DIY soundwaves. Last year, they released the LP I Love My Girl She’s My Boy, a chronicle of broken relationships which cemented the duo’s reputation for pushing the boundaries of experimental pop, and now, they bring us Garage Sale – a six-track EP through situationships, heartbreak and self-discovery. Having recently returned from a 35-city tour, the duo are set to head back on the road joining Conan Gray’s tour across Europe this fall, but before that, they stood still for a second – and we took the opportunity to chat.

J.L. Sirisuk: Let’s go back to when you were growing up in Laurel Canyon. What types of movies and music formed the early seeds of your creative world?
Savannah Hudson: There are so many seeds that formed us into the strange humans that we are.
Brandon Hudson: When we were kids, we really loved Speed Racer, the cartoon. We loved anything Tarantino, Wes Anderson – and 80s movies, coming-of-age shit.
SH: When our parents would tell us to go to bed, we’d sit on the staircase and peep them watching Sopranos.
BH: There was a transition. My friend showed us a movie called Go, which was about rave culture in the late 90s/early 00s and opened up a whole portal for inspiration. Musically, we grew up in a household that was super diverse. Our mom and dad both listened to a lot of stuff. They’re not musical, but they listened to a lot of music. We grew up listening to everything from Daft Punk to Fleetwood Mac. You can kind of pair that with how the music we make is so all over the place – it comes from playing so much, such a variety.

JLS: What led you eventually create music together?
BH: It was a super natural thing. We were both interested in creating something of our own, and Savannah had things she was really good at, things that I didn’t know how to do. I was playing chords and writing on instruments, and we teamed up randomly – it all made sense.
SH: We were nine or ten years old and we really had this passion, so we’ve been going at this together for such a long time.

JLS: Before we dig into the new EP, what can you tell me about recording Affection during lockdown, because this is what really reached a large audience.
BH: People talk about how you go into the studio and your goal is to make a big song, and we really had no intention of that. We were just making music and it was something that we came up with and started working on. We really didn’t think twice about it. It was very early in our stages of creating and we were trusting our instinct. [Lockdown] was really an interesting experience because we were cooped up in our house and we were still living at home with our parents. We watched the song move and snowball via the internet. There was nothing that we could do about it at the time, there was no way of touring, there was limited access to resources – we just put music out.

JLS: It hasn’t even been a year since your first LP and now you’ve released your EP Garage Sale. What made you want to follow it up so quickly?
SH: We never have the intention of sitting still for too long. We are constantly creating and constantly being creative, and we feel like if we’re doing that behind closed doors, then what’s the difference in sharing that with people who may feel inspired by it or may like it? We did our first real big tour towards the end of last year where we toured I Love My Girl She’s My Boy, and we got to see the reactions, and the album was only out for about two months. The people coming to the shows reacted to the music and fed us so much that we just didn’t want to stop. The energy of the tour carried us home and inspired us to put this EP out. Even while we were putting that out, we continued to make music and we’re deep in another project right now that hopefully will be in the world soon.

JLS: What can you tell me about this particular set of tracks?
BH: They were new ideas we had started around the time of working on the album and we really liked them but didn’t want to think too hard about them – we wanted to complete them and immediately give them to the internet. It was kind of therapeutic in a way, finishing things and letting them go at a fast pace. Like Savannah said, we’re just constantly making music, and there’s something exciting about casually releasing things and giving people something that would have, in any other world, just lived on our laptop.

JLS: In terms of the songwriting process, how has it evolved over the years between the two of you?
SH: I think as a human in general, you’re constantly changing. It’s unavoidable, change is a part of life, and when it comes to your job or when it comes to your passion, whether you want to or not, you’re always changing. So absolutely. We’ve definitely solidified more of a rhythm of what works for us creatively in the studio. The writing process on some days can be super challenging, and then some days we can write too much and have to narrow it down. But I would say it’s definitely become more solidified.
BH: It’s a constant evolution and we’re getting better. That is a really cool thing to be able to share with people in terms of like, I think you can hear growth in the music.

JLS: Being siblings, do you feel it makes it easier to be honest about love and modern dating – everything from situationships, relationships to heartbreak?
BH: There’s definitely a safe space. I feel like you always find that in family, and sometimes people make their own family through friends, and that’s who is the closest to them. For us, it’s like our own sort of safe space and it’s exciting to tell a story from one of us, and we both help complete it. Two heads can be better than one, you know.

JLS: What’s your collaboration style?
SH: Even though I said that we’ve got this sort of formula down, when it comes to making the actual song it comes in so many different ways. It’s never really a step-by-step process, they’re all over the place or super straightforward. As of recently, we’ve been trying to have fun in the studio, and as soon as we feel like we’re stuck or something, we move on and try something new – this sort of ADD system of “Let’s, just try something and when we’re over it, let’s try something new.” When you are working every day, and Brandon and I have been doing it for so long together, coming up with new ways to keep us excited and stimulated is really important. I’m glad that we’re constantly finding these new little ways to keep it fun.

JLS: I love that instead of sitting on an idea, you just jump into it. I was wondering what emotional resonance the songs on this EP carry for you – what was going through your mind or your life at the time?
BH: I think we were trying to close the Love My Girl She’s My Boy chapter. We tried putting as much into the album, but sometimes things can feel overstuffed and I think these songs chime in on the topic and the idea of what we’re going through in the album with young love, heartbreak, and growing up. The songs on Garage Sale allowed us to conclude a creative chapter in our lives and now we can move on and not feel like there was anything we didn’t say. Right now, we’re working on new music and it feels like an entirely different world. We had to close the last one to start the next one, and Garage Sale was a quintessential part of doing that.

JLS: Pleasure Delayer jumps out. What can you tell me about that track?
BH: I think we wrote it in our garage in our old house. We moved last year and I had an amp in the garage, and I think we just started playing around with it, played the chords and started singing that song. It’s about a new love and a new relationship, and sort of getting feelings for the first time.
SH: The insecurities that come with liking someone for the first time, like you don’t know what the fuck’s going on but it’s happening.

“There are so many seeds that formed us into the strange humans that we are.”

JLS: Now that you’ve had some distance from the songs, is there one track that jumps out at you that you connect with more than when you recorded it?
BH: Eyes On My Baby is one of my favourite songs that we’ve made. Even having put it out, I still feel excited about it. We originally wrote that song when we scored Sandy Liang’s runway show in New York two years ago. Eyes On My Baby was originally called Head Room, and it was a part of that show. When we were going through old projects, I was like, “There’s something really exciting about this song and I would love to finish it.” It turned into Eyes On My Baby and I really like that one a lot.
SH: Listening back to all the stuff we’ve put out, I find a glimmer of who we were in the time and it inspires me. Whoever, wherever I was for Really Good Cry, I respect her, that was a fun song to write. Just thinking back on it, there’s a relatability that anyone could find when listening to the words or reading the lyrics and also it’s hidden in this fun guitar, which is a nice contrast.

JLS: You were just on tour across 35 cities?! How was that?
BH: It was amazing. You know, this was our first-ever full cross-country headline tour. To do that and for all the shows to have sold out, it was super exciting. There are new connections to the music and the people who listen to the music when you see them in real life. For so long, Between Friends was just an internet thing, like an internet enigma and we didn’t have the translation of what it was like in the real world. Seeing people who connect with it and be a part of our community was really one of the most exciting things we could ever have experienced. We can’t wait to do it again – we’re going on tour with Conan Gray in Europe, we’ve never toured Europe before.

Follow Between Friends on Instagram.
Between Friends tour Europe with Conan Gray in November. 

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