Robyn & Ryleigh
Sisters Robyn Gillespie (left) and Ryleigh Gillespie (right) are a talented emerging country/pop duo hailing from Langley, British Columbia. Their sound is a reflection of their country upbringing, their favourite musical influences, and traditional country acoustic elements blended with the energy of modern rock.
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Robyn and Ryleigh: We’re sisters from Langley, BC with a love of creating country music. Our first album is out July 17th. We dream big like there’s no ceiling!
Are there nerves that set in prior to the release of the album?
“Will people like it?” is the first question that artists with new albums ask themselves. We really want people to be able to relate to our songs and also enjoy the music. We’re grateful that our fans have responded positively to our sound and live performances so far. It inspires us to keep going. So with that love and support, it’s hard to be nervous about the release of the album. It’s more like a mix of anxiousness and excitement.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge in the creative process?
Finding time to do it all. On any given day, we could be working on music, vocals, and songwriting, along with having a full-blown rehearsal. That doesn’t include keeping up with our social media and any traveling we might be doing that day. So finding time to get all of those things in is a challenge.
Can you talk a little bit about the artistic growth you’ve experienced throughout the creation of the album?
We’ve grown so much artistically during the production of our album. Being in the studio was like getting intense vocal training. Every word we sung was under the microscope, so we had to perfect our sound. We learned so much about the whole process from start to finish. It was really refreshing for us because the creation of an album was a brand new experience for us. Writing songs was only the beginning. It took a whole team of people to create the finished product and now we’re excited and proud to share it. Looking back to where we started and then seeing where we are today, there’s so much that we know now. We relied on trusted people we met to show us the way and we are better for it on every level.
What track on the album are you most excited about?
“Perfect Date” is probably the one we’re most excited about. It’s so fun and uplifting and it’s a party song; You just can’t help but dance to it! It also just happens to one of our original songs, so it’s one of the tracks we are most proud of.
We also want to mention “This is Really Happening”, which was originally written by Taylor Swift. It’s also special to us. We wanted to get some songs on the album from other writers to broaden the spectrum of the album a bit more. Taylor’s song added a true ballad for us.
What expectations do you have for yourself when you’re creating music?
It has to be something that we would want to listen to. While writing, it’s important to get out what you want to say in the song, but also have musical and vocals hooks to go along with that. You have to make the song enticing to the listeners and it’s something we get better at with every new song.
In the studio, we expect a lot from ourselves – perfect note to note switches, perfect pronunciation, and the need to breathe life into the song. Whether it’s making sure we’re smiling when we’re singing, or almost crying if it’s a sad song, we want the emotion to come across in the recording!
When it comes down to it, the music has to be something that will be great for all audiences and something that we ourselves would love to listen to as well.
What artists shaped you?
Growing up, we had many different influences. Some artists have taught us what not to do – like going the rated R route, definitely not our style – but some artists have lit the way for us including some of our favorites to listen to like Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Nickelback, Taylor Swift, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain and Reba McEntire.
Chad Kroeger from Nickelback studies all of the hit songs and finds out exactly what makes everyone like them enough to send them to the top of the charts. That’s what we’re starting to do with our songs. Miranda Lambert is just herself with her songs, which is refreshing and we love the fact that some of them are so raunchy and fun. It helped us realize how much fun we could have with our music. As far as Taylor Swift goes, we’ve learned from her how we can be role models, too. So many little girls look up to these female artists and say they want to be like them.
It has to take some serious confidence in yourself to accomplish all that you have so far. Who or what gave you that?
Thank you so much for saying that! Growing up in Langley, we attended Belmont Elementary, where we had a lot of musical opportunities like singing in choir, doing Christmas concerts and plays and learning to play instruments. Standing up in front of all those people at such a young age can really shape who you are as a person and it helped us build self-confidence early. After that, we didn’t stop because we each pursued our own interests further – like learning guitar and songwriting (Robyn) and developing vocal harmonies (Ryleigh) before singing together at open mics, competitions, and music festivals. More recently, we’ve gained more confidence from working under the guidance of Paul Shatto and David Wills from Raincoast Music, but confidence was a key for us that started early on.
Are you trying to prove anything with this album?
You can do anything that you set your mind to. We always knew that we were going to do this, but it really hits home when you’re looking at your first album cover. We found an old sketchbook of ours from high school with a page decorated with sketches and doodles and half of an empty CD case with permanent felt stating “Place First Album Here”.
So the point we’re trying to prove is don’t give up because dreams take time. No matter how long it takes, you’ll get there. Every due you’ve paid and every second you’ve had to wait will be worth it when you feel the last rung on the ladder. If each rung is a goal you want to achieve, the ladder can go as high as you want. So it’s important to keep climbing!
What are you trying to open people’s minds up to with your music?
We want people to “feel” our music when they hear it. That is our most important message. We have lighthearted songs, emotional songs, and party songs, but all of them relate to love in some way. We really feel like there’s a song for everybody and every mood.
What does music mean to you?
Music means an outlet for creativity and freedom! You can say how you’re feeling while writing a song and listen to any type of music you like. You work out to music, drive to music, sing along to music in the shower. It’s inspirational and empowering, and can make you feel so many different emotions. Music has been around for so long and it has helped us through many hard times and also made the good times even better.
What’s been among the coolest moments so far throughout this whole journey?
There have been so many! One time, there was a rain storm during a live show and the lights started exploding and the microphone shocked my lips. There was thunder and lightning and buckets of rain, but the show went on and the fans stayed. The fact that our audience stayed through that storm was an incredible feeling. After another show, two little girls came up to us and said that we had inspired both of them to start writing. It was such an amazing moment that we won’t forget. On a broader level, creating an album, a music video, and releasing our first single to radio have been equally rewarding for us as milestones in our career.
Do you feel like music can create real change in the world?
Music is definitely a strong influence for people, especially kids. If they listen to genres that aren’t filtered and if they don’t have the right guidance, they can get the wrong idea about how to be when they’re older. So in our opinion, music can lead to real change and it has already – good and bad. For us, it’s really important to be healthy influences, so try to send out a positive message to our audience and encourage them to make solid choices in their lives.
What makes you happy and what makes you sad?
Robyn: Love makes me happy and it can also make me sad, as well. When I attend weddings, I’ll be so happy that I will have tears in my eyes. Let me tell you, I’ll be crying at my wedding. Love brings out the most emotion in myself and in others as well, so that’s why most of my songs revolve around it in one way or another.
Ryleigh: What makes me happy is music – and animals! I love animals, especially miniature pigs. So with that said, what makes me sad is any kind of animal abuse.
Do you have anything to say to the readers of popYOUlarity?
We just want to thank you all for your support. We also love to interact with our fans. So please visit our website (RobynandRyleigh.com) or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll also have another single out soon and we promise to keep you posted. Have a great summer everybody!
+ Debbie Fettback
Photo: Official, Karolina Turek