Music was a no-brainer for Brandon and Ashley Watson. These Irish twins were set on that path pretty early on in life and eventually it led them to not only become The Ocelots but on the road backpacking and playing through Europe. An adventure of a lifetime, I had to know more about that as well as fictional couple inspo, and more like their latest single, “Addlepated.” We talked about all of that and then some in this brand-new back-and-forth exchange.
Kendra: It’s one thing to start a creative endeavor with a sibling, but your twin seems like there’s an extra added layer of understanding. Would you say you both have an inherent gift of knowing what the other wants and needs when it comes to The Ocelots?
The Ocelots: I say we definitely have an advantage. We sometimes have different ideas in terms of songwriting, but when it comes to performance we definitely have no problem intertwining. What matters most is that we’re both growing and learning I think. We both have various side projects that influence the art in different ways.
Kendra: Did one of you find music before the other or did you both showcase an interest around the same time?
The Ocelots: As children, we showed an interest in music that was difficult to ignore. I went to guitar lessons and my brother went to piano lessons. Although I think I was the one who started writing music first.
Kendra: When you started down that folk path you were channeling artists like Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel. I find it interesting that it’s been years since these artists and bands like The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac have been topping the charts, but for musicians – it’s like the inspiration is cradled in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Would you say that might be the most inspired time in music?
The Ocelots: That’s a very interesting question. I think because there is so much music readily available to our ears, this generation has seen a ton of throwback artists from every decade. However, I do think during the ‘80s, popular music split into a world of Synth and electronic sound. Therefore it’s evident to me the ‘70s was the last decade where popular music was completely swamped with string instruments, and there was a lot of amazing rock and folk. I don’t think songwriting got any worse, but I think when people pick up a guitar and want to become a musician, music from the ‘60s and ‘70s seems a trusty source where the guitar seems the most relevant and beautiful.
Kendra: Now let’s talk about The Ocelots’ music. Your debut, ‘’Till We Get There’ dropped a handful of years ago, and you’ve just released a new single. How would you say one another has grown since the debut?
The Ocelots: That’s pretty funny. For us, it seems like so many years ago and a ridiculous amount of change and growth. I feel a completely different person since then, so I suppose I’m a different artist too. We were still kids when we wrote those songs, so they are in any case sentimental to me.
Kendra: When I listen to “Addlepated,” it feels like it could work for so many fictional couples in the pop culture realm. Did you have any pairs in mind when you penned this?
The Ocelots: Yes of course! It’s between ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Jack in the Beanstalk.’ The melody of the piano represented to me something romantic and cheesy, and I wanted to protect this cheesiness in a fairytale so I could enjoy those feelings authentically.
Kendra: What do you think is the number one thing couples will find hinders their compatibility?
The Ocelots: Pheromones probably. Self-assurance. Alcohol. Genes.
Kendra: So I have to know more about this backpacking across Europe. You just packed a bag and set out to play music here and there. Was there anything you learned during that time that you tucked away in the back of your mind as a one-of-a-kind life lesson you likely would not have learned otherwise?
The Ocelots: I hope so. People travel to either find themselves or lose themselves. I learned a lot about people’s hospitality in other cultures. I think one thing I learned from traveling, is that happiness and a “home feeling” can be found all around the world, and it really doesn’t matter where you live, you could have a meaningful time everywhere.
Kendra: Now with the holidays right around the corner, I’d love to know if you could be gifted with tickets to see any artist, living or not, live in concert – who would it be and why?
The Ocelots: It will always be The Beatles for me. They are so magical.
Kendra: Lastly, with “Addlepated” out now, what are your plans heading into the new year?
The Ocelots: We hope to release the rest of the EP and tour around a bit within the context of people knowing our newer songs. I want to go to Brazil and record our album, and spend a lot of time playing music and less time on trains.