Sisters Peyton Bighorse and Kelli Mayo are not new to the world of rock. Oklahoma natives, now residing in Washington, these women are visionaries in their genre.
I was fortunate enough to meet these ladies at the ages of 9 and 12, when they were playing local shows, shredding and wailing harder than any boy would dare.
Six, seven years later, they’re right where they want to be. They’ve stayed on track and toured with punk legends like Babes in Toyland and done studio work with Exene Cervenka. They’ve written songs with some of their favorite musicians. However, they don’t really care what you think.
Your new EP, “Ugly Pop”, includes new and old tracks. Are these new recordings? Where did you record/produce these new songs?
Peyton and Kelli – The only new recordings are Oddie Moore and Cosmetic Skull. Alabama Movies and A Little Late are the versions from Fuzz Steilacoom, but Placer is an alternate mix Blag Dahlia (Dwarves) did. We recorded the new songs with Kliph Scurlock producing and Steve Squire engineering in Kansas early last year. It was a blast. They are peers whose opinions we value very highly, so in the studio we clicked very naturally. Their small suggestions about space or rhythm would make all the difference to our songs and really let them shine and breathe. It was great too because we could all disagree guilt free.
You recently made the move from Oklahoma to WA. How has this cultural change influenced your music? What prompted your move?
Peyton – We’d been wanting to move for a few years now, ever since we drove up to Washington to record Fuzz Steilacoom with Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening). Once our family had the money to do it we just went for it. It’s been great here. The weather and scenery is so beautiful and everyone we’ve met is super cool and humble. We’ve only played a few shows since we’ve moved here, but every venue’s been great!
Kelli – Something about the weather and being new in town makes us hide away in our basement and focus on creating. Ever since we’ve moved here I’ve been falling in love with so many new albums and bands. I’ve also been teaching myself guitar. So far I can play “He’s My Thing” by Babes in Toyland, “Untogether” by Belly, and part of “Go West” (seems fitting) by Liz Phair. I get distracted all the time though and start writing my own stuff.
How old are you now??
We are 20 (Peyton) and 16 (Kelli)
Who is Oddie Moore? Why did you write a song about him/her? At what point do you have too many sisters
Peyton – Oddie Moore is not anyone specifically. It’s just an idea I had that sort of turned into a character. I don’t think you necessarily can have too many sisters, actually.
In “Cosmetic Skull”, you mention Exene Cervenka. Your close followers know that she’s been a huge influence on you and your music. Is there anyone you’re working with now who you look up to? Anyone you’re hoping to meet?
Kelli – We’ve been writing with Louise and Nina from Veruca Salt lately and that is just too cool. I don’t know what all we are going to release yet, but I can tell you that it sounds BIG. They have so many tricks and harmonies up their sleeves. It’s pretty magical to watch that just flow out of them. I’d love to meet Jon Brion!!! The more I learn about that guy the more dumbfounded I am. We saw him play keyboard with X at the Roxy (and he killed it of course!) but he’s also worked with Fiona Apple, Elliott Smith, Kanye West, Spoon, and Aimee Mann. He’s a musical mastermind.
Tell me about your new favorite local bands. What’s the scene like in Tacoma/Seattle? Have locals been receptive to you?
Peyton – Peg is one of the real charms of the Seattle/Tacoma area. Her songs are so catchy and beautiful, and Sheridan is one of the best drummers we’ve ever seen. Perfume Genius is from around here, and they’re obviously fantastic. We’ve also recently learned about a cool Seattle band called Steal Shit Do Drugs. We haven’t had the chance to see them live yet, but we look forward to it.
Kelli – Everyone’s been so welcoming. They’re really proactive in their community and inclusive. I’m always befriending people at our shows and just about everyone’s in a band or has a zine or has they’re own art that they are passionate about. So far it seems like people just enjoy promoting each other not tearing down “competitors”.
You’ve been known to switch off instruments in your music. Do either of you prefer one instrument over the other?
Peyton – It’s really hard to choose a favorite instrument because they’re all so fun. I have a soft spot for drums, but I like songwriting so much, and the ukulele is the easiest instrument for me to write melodies on. It can be hard for me to come up with an interesting instrumental parts on ukulele, though, so after I’ve got a good melody I’ll usually move those songs over to guitar to work on the instrumentation.
Kelli – Not really. I like switching gears a lot, that way I never get bored or worn out on a certain instrument. Some days I only want to practice my drum songs, some days it’s bass or keyboard, and some days I want to dabble in them all.
Where can we catch you this year?
Kelli – Our Oklahoma friends can catch us at Norman Music Festival this April, and we are touring the rest of the country this spring and summer!
Pizza or ice cream?
Peyton – Ice cream, no doubt.
Kelli – Ice cream!!!! But Empire is magical and I can’t get enough of that sauce.