If you’re one to roam the music studio practice rooms late at night, you’ve probably overheard Jack Lewis ’15 and Katie Solomon ’15 rehearsing their latest collaborations. The singer/songwriter duo has spent this past year at Wesleyan combining their musical talents to create a compilation of coffeehouse-style tunes. Lewis’s comforting guitar lines, Solomon’s breathy vocals, and thoughtful lyrics meld perfectly to create songs that make you want to close your eyes and sink into their world. Calm, cool, and collected as usual, the duo spoke to The Argus about their songwriting process and future plans to keep making music.
The Argus: So do you guys just call yourselves “Jack and Katie”?
Jack Lewis: We had a lot of different name ideas we were trying to come up with. [To Katie] You almost changed your name to Jill.
Katie Solomon: I wanted that.
A: That’s cute.
JL: We thought it would be really funny—I thought it would be really funny—to go with “Just Friends” because everyone always asked us if we were dating. Especially our parents. Like, my mom asked me four separate times. “You guys are just friends though, right?” So then Olivia [Mason ’15] was like, you should just call yourselves “Just Friends.” So we almost did that.
A: That’s funny. Especially with one of the songs you have on SoundCloud, “My Lover and My Friend.”
KS: Whenever I’m singing, I’ll always look like I’m in love with Jack, longingly at him.
A: When did you start being “Jack and Katie”?
KS: We started playing this summer.
JL: Right when we met. Within the first few times we hung out we just started playing like covers and stuff. And we were like, “Oh we should play music when we get back in the fall.” And then we did. And then we started just still playing covers, and we recorded “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “The Only Exception,” and just decided to start writing our own songs.
A: When did you start writing your own songs?
KS: Like the middle of last semester. But I had never done that before, like, written with anyone else.
JL: I had to bring a song that I had wrote and teach it to her before she was comfortable writing her own songs in front of me.
KS: It’s so awkward to write songs with another person.
JL: Yeah, it is.
A: What’s more difficult about writing with somebody else as opposed to by yourself?
JL: I like it more.
KS: Yeah, now I like it.
JL: I struggle writing songs by myself. But when you’re first starting out writing songs, you feel really self-conscious about writing down lyrics on the spot.
KS: Lyrics come out really awkwardly at first, I would say.
A: Would you say one of you does mostly the melodic writing and the other does lyrics, or is it split evenly?
KS: We’ve done both. I feel like generally we come together, he’ll bring a guitar part kind of thing and then I’ll do melody and lyrics kind of stuff. That’s what we generally do.
JL: Sometimes she’ll come to me with like chords and lyrics, and I’ll write the guitar part. It’s usually not a whole song that we bring to each other, it’s just parts.
A: What’s your favorite thing you’ve written so far?
KS: I think “Creature of the Rest” is my favorite, because it was one of the first songs we ever wrote, but we didn’t record it. It’s a little raunchier.
JL: There is a recording out there, somewhere, that we’re still trying to get. We recorded it for a class at the Green Street Arts Studio. But we haven’t gotten it back yet.
A: When you do get the recording, will you be making it available online?
A: What is available right now on SoundCloud?
KS: Not that much.
JL: Only five songs. We’ve been hoping to get a lot more recording done this semester, but we’ve been really busy and there were some issues with getting access to the recording studio. So we’re a little bit behind.
KS: But shortly there will be a lot. We’re going to just pound them out.
A: Do you have a lot written right now that you’re just waiting to record?
A: Awesome. What are you most excited about recording?
KS: Maybe “Penny.”
JL: I was going to say that’s my favorite one so far, but that’s probably because it’s new.
A: What’s that song about?
KS: So we started it one night when we were really intoxicated. So we got, like, really excited about it. His guitar part was awesome.
JL: I had this guitar part working for a while. And it was a more complicated guitar part than I usually write. So I was really excited to show Katie because I think it was really cool. And we were very intoxicated. And she just started writing lyrics.
KS: And the first lyric was good, like, the first line. But then the next day when I looked back it made really just no sense. At all.
JL: Well the first line, you were searching for something to write about and you saw a penny on my floor.
A: So how much change was there between you drunkenly writing and doing some sober editing?
KS: The majority of it changed. But that was a start. I feel like we’ve started drunk a lot.
JL: And then we go back later.
A: What do you guys have planned for this summer?
KS: We’re both going to be in New York, hopefully playing some gigs. Starting out at the open mics.
A: What goals do you guys have for the future?
JL: I mean, you know, there’s always the dream that we’ll make it. But we’ve talked about how we don’t really care if we’re famous. It’s fine if we’re just in a small apartment playing shows at night and doing day jobs during the day.
A: But you see this as something that would continue after Wes?
JL: I hope so.
KS: Yeah, [I] definitely want to in general, with music.
JL: See where things take us.
A: Do you see putting together everything you’ve written so far into an album of some sort?
JL: Well that was the plan for this semester, was to make a seven- or eight-song album so we would have something to give to people over the summer when we were playing. We’ll see if we can get it done. We should be able to get something done.
KS: Probably just put it online though. We would love if you listened. Just give us a listen!