Rocky’s Revival is a sister duo act about to go viral. With their folk-y, pop-y tunes and new EP out February 19th, the only thing that stands between them and “hey, haven’t I been hearing them on the radio lately?” recognition is a little bit of time. Between Kiana’s goofy demeanor, Kalina’s knack for piano, and their combined talent for songwriting, there’s nothing that can stand in their way of becoming just as big as their dreams (if that’s even possible).
You’re coming out with a new EP on February 19th, which is so exciting. Can you give us more information about it?
Yes! We’re really excited about “Newspaper Dream!” This EP bounces from folk to pop. Of the five songs, Kiana’s favorite is “It Takes One.” She loves the trombone solo! She’s also a big history buff, so we had a great time researching information for this song. “It Takes One” walks you through history, chronologically, and talks about events where it took one action to change the world – for better or for worse. Kalina’s favorite song on the EP is “Like A Child.” She went through a relationship where she felt like she outgrew the person she was with. We wrote a tongue-in-cheek song about it. It’s one of the folkier ones on “Newspaper Dream.” Don’t get us wrong, we love the other three songs too! “Newspaper Dream” is the title track of the EP, and it’s a bit quirky. Then we have the power-pop-ballad “I Hate This Song,” and “With You,” which we just realized, is the only love song on the EP. We’re excited for people to hear it!
Back when you were both singing as “The Raymies”, Disney was really close to picking you two up for a new show. Do you ever think about what could have been–the good and the bad?
All the time. We were 12 and 14 years old when that deal almost happened. Looking back, we’re so thankful we didn’t take that opportunity, because over the last couple years we have really discovered who we are and we don’t think that would have happened if we were thrown into that environment at such a young age. At the time, we were super bummed because it’s every young girl’s dream to be on Disney Channel. But we are so thankful that the experience led us to where we are now. Honestly, there wouldn’t have been a lot of positives. We would have been told what to sing, what to say, where to stand, how to dress, and wouldn’t have been able to be ourselves. We love the freedom we have in Rocky’s Revival, to create our own music and speak our own voice. This wouldn’t have happened if we had signed a television deal.
Kalina was diagnosed with cancer last year and is now in remission. How did her diagnosis affect Rocky’s Revival?
It definitely put life on hold for a while. Kalina would have treatment every other week. With chemotherapy, the first week is the worst and then she would slowly feel better as the days passed. Just about the time she would start to feel halfway decent again – the whole cycle would start over, with another treatment. So, there were a few days (every other week), where Kalina felt almost normal and good enough to play shows. We called these “Gigs with wigs.” There were some cool opportunities while she was going through treatment. We were able to open up for The Bangles at The Troubadour! If the show was a week earlier, there’s no way she could have done it. There were a weird amount of “positives” that have come from cancer. Now we are working with some incredible organizations like “Cancer for College” and “Dear Jack Foundation.” Cancer for College puts on an amazing fundraiser every year called “Desert Smash.” At last year’s event, we got to open up for Lifehouse, Natasha Bedingfield, and Justin Bieber! Dear Jack Foundation was founded by Andrew McMahon, who is also a cancer survivor. His annual benefit concert was in Chicago at the House of Blues, and he asked us to open for him. That was surreal.
It’s been a little over a year since Kalina’s last treatment and while cancer itself was devastating, we are in awe of the opportunities that have followed her experience.
Your music is a unique, upbeat style. Who do you hope to reach with your music?
That’s a tough question. Our style crosses a few genres. We’re nearing 100 songs and we’ve got a lot to say. We hope people our age will relate to us. We want to inspire and make people think. We want to create music that all ages can enjoy. There aren’t a lot of positive female role models, especially in the music industry, and we want to let girls know that they don’t have to sell out to have a voice in the world. We’re aiming for thoughtful, (poetic at times), lyrics and production that is fresh and current, but not trendy. We want our songs to still sound good 10 years from now. We want to reach people that appreciate a good pop song that makes them think.
How do you see Rocky’s Revival growing and developing in the next few years?
Well first of all, we want to keep making music. We’ve written so many songs that are waiting to be recorded. We plan to record all of them while continuing to write. We want to embrace the new music industry – whatever that is. Meaning, we won’t need to wait to have 10 or 12 songs finished, in order to release a new album. If we write a bizarre song that doesn’t “fit” with others, we can release it as a “single.” We want to grow in creativity. We enjoy writing for projects and we’ve had some success with song placement in film and television. We’d like to pursue more of that. And we want to travel and share our music with the world.
You two are obviously very busy people. How do you prioritize when everything is a priority?
We stick to a schedule. We are both going to school and pursuing music full-time, so life is hectic. We have to treat every band meeting and rehearsal as a top priority. We try to be very disciplined with our time management. Having certain blocks of time in the day for different tasks is key to managing a busy life. (Easier said than done!)
What does your songwriting process look like?
It’s different every time. Usually one of us will have a melody idea or lyric concept and we’ll go from there. Sometimes we write songs from scratch and other times one of us will come in with a chorus or a verse. It’s fun to have a partner, like Lennon and McCartney. It’s never the same process, and if you try to recreate something that worked once, it doesn’t work again.
Last November, you performed at DJF’s annual benefit concert with Andrew McMahon–a powerful night for all involved. What was that like?
Andrew chose Chicago for the concert and we love that city! We have family there and the pizza is the best! Since Dear Jack Foundation personally helped Kalina (with a scholarship for college), it was cool for us to play music and give something back to an organization that has helped so many people and been so supportive. They are certainly helping us follow our dreams. It was special to tell Kalina’s story to an audience who supports and believes in the work of Dear Jack Foundation. We love that we got to show them how their donations are affecting lives. And playing at the House of Blues was so insane.
Andrew McMahon is a great performer and songwriter. It was inspiring to watch him play live. He’s been a gift to us in many ways and we are forever grateful.
– Who are your current girl crushes?
Kiana’s girl crush is Blake Lively. She’s absolutely gorgeous, but also seems like she’s really funny. Kiana pretty much wants to be her best friend. Kalina’s girl crush is Tina Fey because “30 Rock” is one of her favorite shows and she loves her offbeat sense of humor.
– Everyone has things that keep you up at night but what gets you out of bed in the morning?
Definitely Jesus. Kiana loves to run in the mornings and has amazing friends and people in her life. Kalina loves all the different things in her life like school, church, music, friends and family.
Another thing that got us out of bed this morning, was this interview. Thanks for the opportunity!