KTJ & CARLY know all too well the apprehension that can come with vulnerability and express that anxiety in “Hidden.”
Stream: “Hidden” – KTJ & CARLY
There is a kind of allure to a mysterious person, someone who does not reveal themselves all at once. Then as each intricate layer unfolds, it is a new and incredible discovery. But a view that is not always considered is that maybe the reason they are so enigmatic is that they are afraid of intimacy. They are scared that if they open up to another person too deeply, they will not like what they find. This fear is not uncommon, which is what makes KTJ & CARLY’s song “Hidden” so raw and relatable. Many build unbreakable walls thinking they are protecting their partner, but really it is just a way to feel worse. There is something so freeing about demolishing the fortress that traps you, but many are just too terrified to do so.
The pleasurable electro-pop draws you in with hypnotic harmonies gliding atop bold, moody synths. The song’s dark quality fits seamlessly with its message of confronting the demons in all of us. The façade we put on to cover up our flaws will forever haunt us until we show our “evil” nature.
My sinister eyes
They’ve got you surprised
You were blind
And I am
In the dark
A little bit of wicked
The duo is known for constructing catchy creations that truly glisten. Their tracks, so confident and fierce, portray a captivating charisma that is undeniable. “Hidden” possesses that same sensation of ascending to the sky. Wrapping you up in its warm, seductive energy, the listener is instantly hooked. Atwood Magazine spoke with the tantalizing twosome about their sound, the song’s meaning, and more.
A CONVERSATION WITH KTJ & CARLY
Atwood Magazine: Your haunting new release “Hidden” showcases lush, soaring synths and stunning, soulful harmonies. How was the track developed?
KTJ: “Hidden” was such an incredible process. We wrote it around Halloween, probably why it has that haunting vibe. Meg Delacy co-wrote this song with us. We were talking about our inner demons, and how we often close ourselves off because we are insecure or afraid to be vulnerable. We wanted to write a song about it. We wrote the song on piano. Then after we performed it live a few times, it started to become one of our favorite songs to sing and we just loved it too much to not release it. We both produced the track and went for an orchestral synth vibe to make the song as impactful as possible. Then to juxtapose and contrast nicely, we added drums that were a bit more hip-hop sounding. Kept just piano on vocally stronger parts of the song like the bridge.
CARLY: That’s my personal favorite part of the song.
The single is a relatable tune touching on the walls we can sometimes build in relationships for fear of exposing our darkest demons. Can you explain this idea in more detail?
KTJ: My first real love, and one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned in my relationships, is that I was such a people pleaser. I was so afraid to become a burden, so anytime I had a problem or a negative feeling about something, I would close off and shut down. I was too young and ignorant to realize how important my voice is. I would hide my feelings and my insecurities because I just thought that was the best thing to do for the longevity of the relationship. I felt like I had this standard to live up to growing up of being the “cool girl” that I was often referred to as because I have a very chill, witty, dry attitude. But people who saw me as this cool girl persona hardly knew me… the real, emotional, complex, messy, human being I am. Yet I still thought their opinions of me were more important than my own inner-knowledge and wisdom of my amazing qualities. Eventually I couldn’t do it anymore and I ended it, and I felt this huge relief and weight lifted, because I felt like I didn’t have to hide from myself, and I could be the person I wanted to be without worrying if they hated it. It really taught me what a relationship is supposed to be. You can’t put each other on pedestals. I will stand tall and stay true to myself, no matter how insecure or scared I am of what my partner thinks of me, because one, a little discomfort (setting my boundaries and sharing my honest feelings) in the beginning of a relationship can save a lot of pain down the road, and two, because as cliche as it sounds, if someone doesn’t love me, or can’t handle my annoying ticks/boundaries/insecurities etc, then there are billions of other fish in the sea who will appreciate and respect me and my evolution to becoming my highest self.
CARLY: I myself have huge commitment issues when it comes to relationships. There’s so much that goes into it, but all of us experience that feeling that overtakes it all: the idea that people won’t like the dark parts of us or our baggage and shame. On one hand, some people find this kind of mystery exciting and fun… But they don’t know what it is. That’s just the thing. For example, this person would rather have someone chasing them to the ends of the Earth trying to figure them out, instead of just finding out their demons. Sometimes the person on the other end is truly just scared to open up and show off their flaws. Plus, it is so scary to be in a relationship in today’s age with social media and the age of technology where it’s so easy to assume everyone’s life is perfect, to compare yourself to others. In the song we say, “Hope you have fun chasing a ghost,” which is pretty much saying, “Look, I know you think I’m this big mystery that’s thrilling to solve, but in reality I just have dark parts that I am simply scared to show you – just like everyone else.”
What do you think is a helpful tool for breaking down your barriers in relationships and feeling less guarded?
CARLY: Honestly, the best tool for breaking down your barriers is time. It takes time to let down your guard with someone if you are naturally closed off. The longer you get to know someone, the easier it is to trust them and break down your barriers. Another way, which is the one that has worked best for me, is to change the way you view yourself. Yes, it’s easier said than done… but if you view yourself as an objective observer rather than a toxic inner-monologue, you can be surprised how impressed you can be by yourself. I overthink everything, causing me to put a wall up. I used to think people may not like me, or they may not agree with me. When I changed my point of view of myself, and started doing the things I liked instead of what I thought others might like, my confidence grew tremendously and I started to let my guard down. Everyone is different though and has different circumstances, that is just what has worked for me. I still have issues with it, and time, growth, and practice are some great tools I believe will do the trick.
KTJ: It’s hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes major self-awareness, shadow work, a buttload of affirmations, meditation, and self love/care. It’s just as important to really listen to your partner as it is to communicate your feelings with them. I’m studying music therapy right now, and I came across this exercise where you sit in front of your partner and just stare into their eyes for at least five minutes, which helps break your guard down. Now, my self-limiting, low vibrational self would say “Wow that sounds incredibly cringey, no chance would I ever suggest that to my partner they would dip so fast,” but now I’ve become aware of my judgments. Once you become aware that your thoughts aren’t you, they can’t control your life anymore. It’s something I struggled with a lot in the past, and still do a lot, and the most beneficial thing I’ve done is to keep an open mind, consistently destroy self-limiting beliefs that I was programmed to believe about myself (I’m not good enough, it’s best I just keep to myself, no one likes me, I look so dumb right now, etc. ie, stupid bullshit that doesn’t matter because I’m going to die one day). Subconscious minds are basically computer programs, and it just takes self discipline to reprogram it.
You are a powerful electro-pop duo with a bold, atmospheric quality. What attracts you to this musical style?
KTJ: Personally, I don’t really think about what we’re making anymore; we just express whatever musical energy we want to go for a ride. Going into each writing session, it never ends with the same. Our musical influences growing up definitely had an impact on our music, and I could make a whole book of artists who inspired us growing up. Right now, Stevie Nicks, Norah Jones, and Lady Gaga are a few that have been on my mind recently.
A writer, producer, and musician twosome, you do it all. How are you able to be so versatile?
CARLY: Having a partner that you trust and understands your strengths and weaknesses is so important to being versatile. All of my weaknesses are Katie’s strengths and her weaknesses are my strengths. As a partnership, we make sure that we lift each other up and help in that way. Our differences are what makes our bond and working partnership so strong. Also, I like to say that we are both like sponges; we constantly want to learn more about every little thing that goes into making music. We still learn something new everyday and it is so refreshing to be kept on your toes like that in an industry that is ever-changing. We try to be as self-sufficient as possible, because it makes any outcome so much more worth it. If we were to have a separate producer, didn’t write any of our songs, or didn’t put in as much into a song as we do, what is the point? Then we would just be singers, which is not bad, just not what we want to do. We love being a part of the entire creative process as much as possible.
KTJ: We are very curious and have always had a fascination with what happens behind the scenes of art. When you watch a movie, most people don’t realize how many people it takes to create it. From the moment we started performing, we loved being able to create things ourselves, which gave us creative control in our craft. It’s an ever-evolving industry to learn about and it’s never boring, which is something we hate feeling like.
How did this dynamic duo form and what is it like working with your sibling?
KTJ & CARLY: To be honest, when we first created our band, we were a tad reluctant because we’re sisters and we fight all the time. Now, with full confidence, we can say it was the best decision we ever made. It has made us a million times closer, which I didn’t think was possible with twins. We’re best friends forever, and I honestly want to cry typing this because no matter what fight we get into in our journey, we come out of it for the better. Our lives would be dull without each other. We were blessed by God to be born together. She strengthens my weaknesses and vice versa. We are the epitome of PB&J.
Who are some bands or artists that have really inspired your sound?
CARLY: We grew up on a lot of great music like Norah Jones, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks, Elton John, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Van Morrison, and Billy Joel. As we got more into music, some artists that really inspired our sound were artists like Jojo, Chloe x Halle, PVRIS, ROZES, Louis the Child, Flume, and LEON.
Speaking of bands or artists, if you could collaborate with any other musical talent who would that be?
KTJ: Willow Smith. I feel like we would have the deepest spiritual conversations. Tame Impala, too. There’s this remix that ZHU did for tame Impala called “Live My Life.” Willow is in the music video. I have a huge connection to that song. If I could call a studio session with Kevin Parker, Willow Smith, and Steven ZHU, I could die a happy woman.
Finally, any music on your current playlist you can recommend to our readers?
KTJ & CARLY: Here’s some music on my most listened to playlist I think you guys might like!
Sirens – Icarus
Atlas: Eight – Sleeping at Last
Surprise Yourself – Jack Garrett
Good at Losing – SVEA
Say My Name Franklin Remix – Tove Stryke & Franklin
SOLEIL – NASAYA
ONLY – Zhu, Tinashe
As I’m Fading Into You – Blevins
Stream: “Hidden” – KTJ & CARLY
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