As if mastering the arts of emotive songwriting, immaculate vocal harmony, and enchanting live performance weren’t enough, Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell have just added painting to their ever-growing resume. The NYC duo premiere the timelapse video for “Leave The Light On” today, a simple yet captivating depiction of the college friends’ progress as they successfully re-create YOUNG album cover.
YOUNG was released on Arts & Crafts Productions in April 2017, upon which it hit #12 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart and was named “one of the best albums of 2017” by Bob Boilen of NPR. The album covers the universal struggles of growing up, specifically “becoming a woman and looking to your parents for guidance on how you are supposed to go through the world,” all of which is packaged in an intricately-composed folksy pop sound that finds its strength in honesty and vulnerability.
Overcoats takes their show on the road this summer, with live dates in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and more. Grab your tickets to their Echo Los Angeles show this Friday, June 9, here, and get to know the ladies of Overcoats in our Q&A below.
OTW: What inspired this time-lapse video for “Leave The Light On?” How did you learn to paint so well?!
H: We have had this dream of painting our album cover. While we were getting all the supplies together, we were like…we should probably film this.
J: Hana and I have both been making visual art for as long as we can remember. We thought it’d be cool to collaborate a visual project too.
OTW: Why such somber faces on the album cover/painting?
H: Since the album is called YOUNG, we wanted the album cover to portray the complex emotions that come with growing up. We wanted to look young in our appearances, but have our faces convey the emotional experience and hardships that come with getting older.
OTW: What’s the story behind how you initially chose to come together as a duo?
J: We started writing music together our senior year of college. The blend of our voices really felt magical to us. Singing together became the only thing we wanted to do.
OTW: Why the name, Overcoats?
H: We wanted a name that was mysterious, and kind of acted like an overcoat– concealed what was behind it. When you hear the name Overcoats, it sounds dark, or maybe a bit masculine…you don’t know you’re about to hear two women singing in harmony. We liked that it added a bit of mystique.
OTW: What’s the secret behind mastering the perfect vocal harmony?
H: I think when JJ and I sing in harmony, we try to really get connected in terms of the emotion and the phrasing–we try to sound like one person, one voice.
J: And we breathe together! That’s important too.
OTW: How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it?
H: Our music is meant to make the heart heal and the body dance!
OTW: Can you each choose a particularly moving line or verse from a song on the album and describe the inspiration/meaning behind it?
H: From “23:” “this is how we spend our days / looking for the love we misplaced / looking at the choices we made / and how with time they become our chains"
23 is a song about being in a serious relationship while you’re very young, and feeling trapped inside a choice you’ve made.
J: From "Siren:” “I feel the weight of many worlds on my shoulders / live the broken dreams of all the others / please don’t pull me down I think I’m drowning"
This line is about the hard parts of empathy–about feeling other people’s experiences and not being able to separate them from your own.
OTW: Would you say there’s a particular theme or narrative to the YOUNG album?
H: YOUNG is about growing up. It’s about becoming a woman, and looking to your parents for guidance on how you are supposed to go through the world.
J: The album starts with Father and ends with Mother, and describes our journey from gravitating towards our fathers’ advice to our mothers’ when we started to grow older.
OTW: Who are 3 artists on your Ones To Watch list and why?
OTW: What can we expect at your upcoming live shows?
H: We like our live shows to take you through a lot of emotions.
J: There are dance party moments, quiet vulnerable moments…
H: Lots of singing to each other. We’re like, oh, forgot there was an audience!
OTW: What else is in the works for Overcoats?
H: We’ll be on the road playing YOUNG for the next while! Hope to see you at a show!