With two backpacks, one guitar, and a month’s supply of whiskey and chocolate, brother and sister Connor and Karlee found themselves living in a camper van in the backcountry of New Zealand in November 2016, reunited at last after spending six months apart on opposite ends of the world. Welcomed to the island by a 7.8 earthquake and its relentless aftershocks, Connor and Karlee began a month long road trip navigating New Zealand’s unforgiving landscapes and hoping to find new inspiration and stories to tell. After years of splitting the state while attending different universities and performing as “Connor & Karlee” at every local coffee shop and dusty dive bar in their hometown, Sacramento, CA, the pair desperately needed to disconnect from the pressures of reality, immerse themselves in nothing but the wilderness, and rediscover their need for songwriting. With a road map and coffee cup in hand each morning, Connor and Karlee found the ultimate freedom and adventure they were looking for. Along the way, the siblings discovered a newfound motivation for music and an untapped wheelhouse of lyric and song in every national park, night sky, and trail they encountered. Little did Connor and Karlee know, they planted the seeds for their folk inspired project “me&you”.
The two slugged it out in the hawaiian-print camper van, day by day with a few too little showers, a whole lot of canned soup, and journals at the ready, only to find themselves pointing their lyrical compasses home toward Sacramento, CA and the Sierra Nevadas, the genesis of “me&you”. Just 22 months apart in age, the two were both surrounded by music from the moment they were brought home from the hospital. As early as 2 years old, Connor would sit with his father at the family’s silver sparkle drum kit, hand in hand, mimicking his motions. Karlee soon followed suit a few years later on the upright piano in the living room. By the time the two had started middle school, they each learned to play the drums, piano, guitar, and bass guitar, performing at their school’s talent shows and cafeteria dances. The two began regularly performing in town as “Connor & Karlee” and landed gigs opening for Jon Foreman and Tyrone Wells in high school.
Their childhood memories however, are heavily based in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the family’s summer travel destination. There, the two grew up in the great outdoors, riding bikes to the river, catching crawdads in the creek, hiking through the forest, and swimming in alpine lakes and luckily, music was never too far off. They grew up listening to Glen Campbell, Jim Croce, James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, Carly Simon, and Kenny Rankin while driving through the Sierra Valley and running through the fields just off their cabin porch. The siblings thank their father for the gift of associating music to a memory and intend to write songs that fulfill the same purpose for their listeners.
Music quickly became a mechanism for the pair to interpret the world around them and all that it had to offer and take. Karlee wrote her first song in fifth grade after her classmate passed away, losing her fight with a brain tumor. “At 10 years old, you can’t quite process death, it’s unimaginable, but I remember playing guitar in my room and this song just poured out of me. At an early age, my brother and I learned how fragile life is, to enjoy every minute of it, and spend time doing what you love with who you love.” Fast forward years later and the two released their self-titled, pop debut album, graduated high school, began living 385 miles apart, wrote halfway decent pop songs together over Skype, tried and sort of failed at touring, hoping their next move would present itself, quickly, before they suffered another year of identity crisis. It wasn’t until Karlee had the opportunity to study abroad for six months in New Zealand that the band decided to put “Connor & Karlee” on the back burner and make songwriting the main priority in mid 2016. The duo would spend the next six months sending lyrics and melodies across the Pacific to each other in preparation for their campervan writing retreat at the end of the year. Finally, something clicked when they actually pulled off the trip of their dreams. “It’s been a long process trying to figure out our sound and I think that we finally started finding a place for our voices while traveling in New Zealand, we started writing songs that we didn’t know were already a part of us. A lot of it stemmed from our connection to nature and the people we’d met along the way,” says Connor.
But it wasn’t always easy. They experienced a quarterlife crisis of sorts, as one does parked in the solitude of a forest in a foreign country, doubting their talent and capabilities. Amid sips of whiskey, isolation, and uncertainty, however, it became clear that they were the only ones in the way of their potential. Karlee explains, “This trip taught us to get out of our own heads, eliminate the pressures, and follow the trail that’s been laid out for us. Being so removed from the music industry and the excitement of performing was refreshing, frustrating, and absolutely necessary, it made me realize that’s exactly what I should be doing.”
With a catalog of songs that finally felt personal and something to be proud of, the duo continued to write into the new year developing their rhythmic folk pop performance. The pair felt they’d finally grown out of “Connor & Karlee”, playing their last show under the name with American Idol’s Kris Allen before they’d left for New Zealand, reaching a new chapter of their career in which they’d coin “me&you”. Creating a wall of sound with Karlee’s bass melodies on the keyboard and Connor’s folk-esque kick drum, hi hat, guitar, and harmonica combination, the duo opened for Crystal Bowersox and Robert Ellis in April of 2017. In the same month, their New Zealand track, “Georgia”, was hand selected for a Cross Genre feedback panel at ASCAP with Eric Bazilian and Robert Hyman of The Hooters (“Time After Time”, “One of Us”). In the summer of 2017, Connor and Karlee retraced their roots this summer to a log cabin in the same mountain town they’d visit as kids to produce their exciting new indie folk sound, they felt right at home. There, the two crafted the demos of their latest EP, “Chasing Trails”.
Flash forward a few months, the siblings garnered the attention of Australian producer, Ben Tolliday in Los Angeles, CA. It was a perfect match (he’d even lived in New Zealand for some time before, he understood what the duo had experienced). Not to mention, Tolliday produces me&you’s favorite band, Lord Huron. With the stars aligning and a plan in place to begin production with Tolliday in December 2017, the siblings called upon the generous support of their fans this past fall season, successfully launching a me&you Kickstarter Campaign to fund their collaboration Tolliday at Whispering Pines Studio in Los Angeles, CA. After months of late nights in the studio, “Chasing Trails” was finally finished (two years in the making). The 5 song EP features an all star cast of musicians including Matt Mayhall (Aimee Mann, drums), Anna Butters (Phoebe Bridgers, bass), Aaron Embry (Willie Nelson, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, keys), and Brett Farkas (Lord Huron, guitar) in support the siblings’ inseparable harmony and storytelling.
“We understand this new chapter of music as a reminder to always remember where we come from. It’s important to us that our audience feels like they’re on the same and equal playing field as us, because even though we’re on stage, we’re just two kids with a dream, we’re still just me&you,” explains Karlee. The siblings aren’t looking for fame, they’re looking for a connection. “We hope our music acts as a reminder that all we have is “me&you”, if anything is going to change in the world, it has to be me and you that do it together,” explains Connor.
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