Canadian brother-sister duo explore their winding musical journey from performing for their town to over 40,000 people, and every in-between, proving that they stay to their hometown roots as they grow larger across the continent.
For The Reklaws, entertaining is a part of their blood. From the time they were little, they would perform in front of anyone who was willing – or at least anyone present in the nearby vicinity.
The musical duo, which consists of siblings Jenna and Stuart Walker, recall the pull to the stage from a young age.
“It has always done something to our hearts,” The Reklaws say of performing on stage. “Making us excited and always leaving us wanting more of it!” They recall growing up on an “Entertainment Farm”. “Yee Haw Adventure Farm,” they supply. “[The farm] was open to the public, and all ages would come to our farm for a ‘family fall outing’.”
One of the events during this fall outing would include the Pig Race. “Yes, I said PIG RACE!” exclaims Jenna. The push from performing there every weekend for strangers in October for 11 years, according to the duo, encouraged them from a young age, where they learned to entertain anyone. “Although the racing pigs kind of stole the show,” they joke, “it was clear we were a close runner up!”
The summer of 2013 was the final push that it took for The Reklaws to pursue music as a career. They recall the CCMA Discovery Program, run by the Canadian Country Music Association, and how it allowed them to establish a platform in the Canadian music industry scene. “On top of that, we won the Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase,” say the duo, calling that life changing. “[Boots and Hearts] is one of the biggest country music festivals in North America, and we were crowned the winners!”
Following what could only be described as the summer of their lives, the siblings returned to school at University of Guelph. “Go Gryphons!” they can’t help but proudly add. “Sitting in class after a summer of goal digging, it became clear that school could wait!” they explain.
“It was actually our dad who took us out for coffee and said, ‘Hey, I think you guys should really take a break from school and go full on music career.’” Their dad, “Mr. School, himself!” they comment, was behind their idea to step away from school for the time being and follow their musical passion. “2013 was the year we decided to pursue it as a serious career. Now… it has been five years since this decision, and of course a part of us thought it would all happen overnight but that is not how it works!” As for any regrets, The Reklaws shoot that idea down. “We do not regret making the decision when we did, because we are proud of the artist we have become and are so proud of where the last five years have brought us.”
The song they are most proud of has to be “Hometown Kids”. Calling this single as being really the start of them, according to The Reklaws, every other song and thing they’ve done only led them to this moment.
“We signed with a major label and began to write songs with writers that we really clicked with!” they say, naming T-Buck, Gavin Slate, and Todd Clark as some. “They listened to the stories we told and how we wanted to write songs for our age group, allowing our fans to see that we are just like them!” The duo explains that “Hometown Kids” was the first song they created with these writers. “It was clear that this was the song that we would come out of the gate with! It was a great start to the songs we have planned to come out, it has given us a name and platform that we are very happy to have!”
The song has performed so well that the siblings got to watch “Hometown Kids” climb to #15 on the charts. “For a first single on a major label this was the best surprise!” exclaims the artists. “Our favorite reaction has to have been when Justin Trudeau added our song to his Spotify playlist!” they say of the Prime Minister of Canada. “We were finally in the good books with our grandparents, as their PM liked us, so that must mean we are doing something right, right?”
In fact, the song was even featured in premiere of CMT’s new series, “Music City”.
The joyful country jam guarantees listeners will have to get up from their seats and immediately start dancing or to roll down their windows and sing along as loud as they can. It creates a yearning for fun summer nights with friends, itching for jokes told around a bonfire and memories shared amongst the group. This is the kind of feeling The Reklaws hoped to spark.
Describing “Hometown Kids” as being about who they are in three minutes and six seconds, they say it explains to everyone that they are laid back, summer loving, bonfire night kids. “We wrote it for people who are the same!” The group’s large friend circle were the inspiration behind the song. Would they turn it up in the car? Would they turn it on at a party? “These were questions that were important to us!” they explain. “We are huge fans of country music, but we know the songs that we would skip and the ones we would play over and over! ‘Hometown Kids’ was this to us.” Their gratitude and appreciation are evident as they talk about the opportunity to release it and watch its success.
“Our favorite line is, ‘Every Friday, Saturday, same thing’ because the line was kind of a joke,” reveals the duo. “As we were trying to write it, we had trouble trying to land on the last line, because we did not want to say ‘Chevrolet’ again! So as we were all throwing out lines, someone asked, ‘Why can’t it be the same thing?’ Meaning, ‘Why couldn’t it be Chevrolet’? And we all laughed and then said that we actually like ‘Same thing’ because it worked!” They continued with laughs, “On top of that, it also reiterated the fact that we, alongside our fans, tend to do the ‘Same thing’ on Friday and Saturday night!”
Most songwriters tend to reach into the deepest depths of their emotions and experiences, delivering a heartfelt song that most can find relatable. It brings the writers to a very vulnerable place where some may feel embarrassed during the process of creating the song. For The Reklaws, they don’t face this problem as their long history of writing together has made it more and more comfortable. “Of course, there were times, when we would both have feelings to get out, but we are so a part of each other’s lives that for the most part, we are aware of what the other is going through. And actually, it makes for great songs so the more we can allow our feelings to come out, and even just to talk during a song write, the better writers we become!” They express, with a laugh, songwriting to be “a bit of a therapy session”, but that good things always come out.
Their deep connection and willingness to listen and work with one another is what makes their formation of The Reklaws even stronger. “I know we have both thought about [pursuing music independently] because we have both come into our own as artists, but the opportunity we get to work with a sibling, is something that doesn’t happen every day,” says the duo. “We have become a team, on and off the stage! Travelling with each other is like having a piece of home everywhere you go; someone has your back!” They also say their relationship makes it easy and great at taking the reins over, like when one is sick or just not feeling it. “We cannot imagine doing it on our own, and kudos to all of the artists that take lead themselves!” they commend. “Of course we do have our days, but what brothers and sisters don’t!?”
The dynamic they’ve had since kids, and continued to grow through their music, has definitely influenced their music, according to the siblings. “As brother and sister, we can write from many different perspectives! We have a girl and boy, and we can tell the same story but in our own ways! You will see on our record that we both have our fair share of our own songs as well as duets,” they say. “We have learnt to play off of each other in the songs that we sing, which makes for a pretty fun live show!”
Thinking of live shows, the brother-sister duo recalls their very first one. While at their family’s cottage in Southampton, Ontario, they booked themselves to play at Two Chicks, a local café.
“We remember being so nervous as the whole town was going to come and see – we were tennis teachers in this town, so literally the whole town came!” they exclaim. “But that just added to the nerves! Playing for friends is a lot scarier than playing for people you don’t quite know, maybe it’s because they know you so you can’t pretend to be ‘okay’ when you are clearly not,” the duo admits with a laugh. “But once the nerves went away, that feeling of being able to sing into a mic and everyone just listen, was a magical thing.” It was that feeling that The Reklaws express as being where they felt the most like themselves, even if they were playing in front of people who knew everything about them.
However, those nerves return to them depending on the size of crowd. Having performed small intimate shows like that one to performing at concerts with over 40,000 people in attendance, they say that while most people find the latter terrifying, they find the bigger the crowd there is, the less nerves are present. “As having that many people in a crowd triggers a sense in us, reiterating the fact that this is what we are supposed to do!” they exclaim happily. “It’s almost as if we can feel ourselves get stronger as performers as the energy of that size crowd takes over the nerves. Which means the smaller crowds are actually more nerve-wracking.” They believe this is because smaller crowds are able to watch a little more closely. “As they are probably closer… ha!” they reason with a laugh. “But that means you begin to think, ‘They will catch everything!?’” They example, “Like starting the song the wrong way, or your hair getting caught in your lip gloss, or you’re sweating, ha! But that is mostly just us overthinking everything.”
Through all their experiences as a group, Jenna and Stuart admit that they continue to grow and learn. “But we have come into our own in the past couple of years. When you go through the highs and lows of a music career, you begin to realize that a lot of the journey is you just coming to terms with yourself and understanding you are not perfect, but that is what makes you and your dreams interesting!” they reveal. “Coming to that realization has allowed us to grow and get better at writing and performing. We have met people and writers that have changed us, and who listened, that is the biggest outlet for growth as the team surrounding us has given us a voice and a non-judgmental space for input!”
The realizations they have come to over the years are some of the things they wish they knew when they first started out in the music business.
“One thing we wish we knew was the amount of time, effort, fails, victories, and amount of faith choosing this career entails.” The duo adds, “But also, that timing is everything! There have been so many times in our career when we felt so empty handed because we thought we were ready! The truth is we were not, and that we should just enjoy the journey.” They said they wish they knew, “Instead of looking at the journey as a battle, to look at it as exactly where we are supposed to be, and what will be! #PREACH!”
They continue on with the fact that as much as they wish they knew more going in, they have learned even more. “Over the past year, we have realized that as much as we may think we know in terms of this career there is always something to learn and someone to meet. Not only could someone speak into your life at the right moment, you could do the same for them.” The artists conclude, “The journey is never ending and enjoying the ride every step of the way is the only way to live a life!”
With the holiday season continuing, Teenplicity asked The Reklaws their favorite traditions and gifts!
“Holiday traditions involve a lot of family since we have a laaaarge family!” the siblings say. “It also involves a lot of food… so pretty much a lot of everything. We love how going home always allows us to kind of shut off for a minute and let Mom take care of us!” Their appreciation shines through as they laugh softly and say, “Mom taking care is the best!”
When it comes to their favorite gifts for each other, they reveal that they are not huge gift people.
“I know that is boring, but it’s kind of the truth!” says Jenna. “Stu always gets us something funny/mean.” She says with a laugh, “I could sometimes work on my posture (shoulders back) so Stu, as every little brother would, gave me a ‘posture helper’ – an actual brace that held my shoulders back!” Conceding, she says, “So I mean, I guess that’s a present… but one that I wasn’t too stoked about!”
The Reklaws new EP “Long Live The Night”, their single “Hometown Kids” and more music are all available on iTunes now!
Check out their official site here!