Exclusive: The Harp Twins are back! A Tuned Up interview.
Photo credit: Camille and Kennerly official website, copyright 2014.
When Tuned Up was a lot smaller (and known as I AM TUNED UP) we had the privilege of interviewing the lovely, always interesting Harp Twins, otherwise known as Camille and Kennerly Kitt. In case you missed the first interview – these identical twins have become world famous for their YouTube videos of harp arrangements of popular songs in rock, movie soundtracks, video game scores, and more. Furthermore, the twins are skilled in long list of other hobbies such as martial arts and acting. Their music has been featured prominently in several mediums, including National Geographic, CBS News, LA Weekly, MetalUnderground, and several others. The pair have come a long way in the past couple of years so we caught up with them and delved a bit deeper into what makes these interesting gals tick.
Tuned Up: Do you feel like harp is underused in modern music?
Camille and Kennerly Kitt: Yes, harp is definitely an underused instrument in modern music. Some of that is due to the public’s unfamiliarity of the instrument, some of it due to the fact that it is not a common instrument, and some of it due to the fact that it’s difficult for people to arrange, write, and play modern music on harp. Instruments like violin, piano and cello have been used in rock music for decades, but harp has been left behind. It’s more difficult for people to “find” our music and us because there are very few people who say “Hey, today I’m going to go online and find a harp cover of ‘Paint It Black.’” But they are much more likely to actively seek covers and music by more “popular” instruments like violin, piano, and guitar. However, we’re always up for a challenge! Our radical Duet Harp Revolution is our way of showing the world that we make the harp rock. We want to break barriers, cross genres, and take the harp to where it has never been before – in every way!
How does it feel to have done so well since the first interview?
Our fans are amazing and we feel so blessed to have so much support from around the world. We’re thrilled and honored that so many people have found us and enjoy our music! We’re constantly amazed by the support. We’re proud to have achieved all of our success ourselves – no studio, production people, crew, professional videographer, lighting equipment, location scout, studio, or backtrack!
Do you guys practice a lot?
Yes! We spend a great deal of time reviewing our repertoire and working on new music.
How many hours per day?
We don’t have a set amount of rehearsal/practice time; we just do as much as is needed to accomplish our daily goals. We generally don’t practice for more than a couple hours a day. Every day of rehearsal is different depending on our upcoming performance, filming and recording schedule.
How about tour?
It is a dream of ours is to perform live for our fans around the globe. We currently go where we’re hired to perform. Some are events that are open to the public (like cons, fairs, etc.), but most are for private events. Hopefully some day we’ll be able to create our own tour and meet our fans around the world!
What’s at the top of your bucket list to play?
We have so many songs that we want to cover! We think Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more Iron Maiden tunes are at the top of our cover video wish list. 🙂 🙂 We also try to cover top fan requested songs, and those are definitely toward the top of that list!
When did you guys first get introduced to the harp?
We started playing harp in middle school. We knew someone who played harp and she let us try out her harp. We were hooked! Harp had always seemed like a magical instrument to us, but our mom didn’t have the money for a harp or lessons. So, we earned the money ourselves for a pre-owned harp by babysitting, dog-walking, and other small jobs. When our mom saw that we were serious, she later helped us to purchase a second pre-owned harp so that we could play duets. It was always our dream to play harp together.
Were you both introduced to it at the same time?
Yes! We both fell in love with the harp at the same time and were very motivated to learn to play it!
When did you guys decide to make an act out of the two of you playing harp?
As long as we have played harp, we have enjoyed playing together. We didn’t immediately realize that we would make our career as a harp duo. When we were studying harp performance classically at university, we discussed what we would do if we knew we were guaranteed to succeed at anything. We both agreed that the answer was performing together. However, we knew that classical music wasn’t our primary passion. We didn’t just want to sit on a stage and wear the “accepted” classical wardrobe, playing the “accepted” classical music that harpists have been playing for centuries. Our dream was to perform the music that we wanted to play in the way we wanted to play it. So we followed that dream. We have always had “performer personalities”, but we also found that we had a knack for arranging, producing and creating. We’re passionate about music, playing the harp, and out-of-the-box thinking. Our career is really being ourselves and taking the things we love and putting them all together.
Are you focusing on covers to get more exposure?
We started arranging the music that we like to listen to – which is how we got our start with covers. We didn’t start covering music to gain exposure; it was just an organic start to our contemporary music careers. In fact, we didn’t think there would be an audience for two harps covering modern music. We had no one to “model” our career on – we just had to follow our dream and hope that it worked! We had to create a “niche” for ourselves because no one else was doing what we were doing. As we have gained a following, we’ve had more and more interest by fans in our own original music, which is amazing! We never dreamed a few years ago, that we would have a growing worldwide fan base. We feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do what we love.
Are you shooting the YouTube videos yourself?
Yes, our videos are 100% self-made. We arrange the music, find/scout the video locations, find or make our costumes, film with a small hand-held video camera on a tripod, record the sound in our living room, and edit the videos ourselves.
Do you like to cosplay?
Yes! We have loved playing “dress-up” since we were little kids! Our mom would buy clothing from resale shops and put them in our dress-up basket. It was so much fun! Being able to put together costumes for videos is another way to use our creativity. It’s a blast to become a different “character” and add another fantastical element to our music videos.
Are you making your own costumes?
For most of our videos, we just re-combine things that we already own to make the outfit look “new”. We sometimes also make costume pieces that we need or alter items we already have in our wardrobe. 🙂 🙂 If you watch our videos carefully and look at our performance photos, you will see that almost every item of clothing can be seen in several videos and performance outfits. For example, we cut the sleeves off of a shirt, made bows from an old sheet and created costume pieces for our Final Fantasy video. Later we wore the original shirt (now sleeveless) in other videos (Silent Hill and Harry Potter).
How do you guys put together the arrangements of the cover songs, given that you’re covering songs without harps?
We always start our creative process by listening to the song we’re going to arrange again and again. We usually start with building the melodic framework and then start discussing other elements. Often we’re tweaking arrangements even as we’re learning and memorizing… we think of additional ideas to try, or figure out techniques/patterns that work even better that our initial arrangement. We love the challenge of taking a song usually performed by an entire rock band or orchestra and making it “work” on just two harps – no overlays, loops, or backtracks. There is something very beautiful to us in stripping a song down to its essence and building again from there. It’s exciting to bring new life to a piece and make it “our own”.
Are you following the World Cup?
We haven’t had a chance to watch any of the games (our schedule is too hectic right now), but we’re following the outcomes of the games. 🙂 🙂
What country is at the top of your list to win?
We would probably have to root for our home country – the great US of A. 😉 😉
Have you picked up any hobbies jointly since the last interview?
We just rescued a new little cat, Grayling! We spend enough time with him that it could definitely qualify as a “hobby”! 😉 😉 We weren’t planning to get another cat after our 16.5 year old kitty (also a rescue) passed away in her sleep a couple of months ago, but we met our new little furry baby when we took our grandma out to get cat food for her cat. Grayling is about 2.5 years old and his former owners “dumped” him because their new cat didn’t get along with him. So, he was taken away from his brother (whom the previous owners kept) and given to a cat rescue. He was so scared when we found him that he wouldn’t even take a step out of his little “cubby”. But something about him made us believe he belonged with us. We adopted him, gave him a much-needed bath, a brushing, and a new name (Grayling). He is really coming out of his shell and we couldn’t be happier that he’s found his forever home with us!
What about separately?
Not really! Hobbies are much more fun with our best friend (each other)! 😉 😉
What’s next for the Harp Twins?
We’re currently planning our Harp Attack 2 and Harp Fantasy 2 CDs. We will probably ask our fans for input with the songs they would like us to cover on those. We’re also working toward an EP of original music! We have been performing our original music live for years, but we’ve never recorded it and publically released it for our fans online. We would also love to create music videos for our original music and we have so many unique and fun ideas for those. We now have to find the time to do all the corresponding work!
We’re so blessed that we have been able to share our music with people all around the world, but the number of people who have heard our music is just the very tiniest tip of the iceberg. We’re aiming for the whole iceberg. 😉 😉
Thanks for the fun interview and for your interest in our Duet Harp Revolution! It’s always a great time with Tuned Up! 😀 😀 We would love to connect with readers on our social media sites.