The first time I watched YouTube phenoms, Lennon, 12, and Maisy, 8, sing, I was so moved, I made it my mission to talk with them. Not only do they have amazing voices and a lot of soul for middle schoolers (or for anyone, really), they’re also sisters and best friends, which to me, is the coolest.
It turns out the songbird gene runs in the Stella family. The girls’ parents, Marylynne and Brad, are musicians and in 2009, they competed in the Canadian reality series, “Can You Duet?” The four recently moved from Claremont, Ontario to Nashville, Tennessee, where Marylynne and Brad work as writers and the girls are busy being refreshingly normal tweens.
I spoke to Lennon, Maisy and Marylynne about their overnight success (literally!), a few of their favorite things and why this may go down as the most exciting summer ever.
So, it’s been a really big summer for you guys. It all started with the “Call Your Girlfriend” video, which currently has almost six million views. Can you tell me about that?
Marylynne: Well, I posted it on May 30th at two in the morning and when I got up at eight, there were like 200 views. I was like, ‘Holy Smokes! That’s a lot of views!’ And by eleven, there were 304 views, but it had 1,200 ‘likes.’ So everybody [online] was saying, ‘Oh look at that, it’s gone viral.’ Apparently, if the views go too quickly, YouTube will put a lock on them so that they can assess where the views are coming from. By the time the views ended up getting released, there were thousands of ‘likes’ on it and pages and pages of comments, but there were still only 304 views. Then it happened again when we posted the ‘Thank You’ video—within nine minutes, it had 304 views and it got locked again.
That is wild. Marylynne, did you immediately start hearing from music agents and people looking to sign them?
Marylynne: Oh yeah. We’ve literally been contacted by every agent, network, management company—it’s been intense. But we’re just kind of taking it all in. Because they’re 12 and 8, we don’t feel like if we don’t grab at everything now that they’re not going to have the same opportunities [later on]. So, we’re not signing them to anything musically right now. We’re just going to let them do their own thing and let them be independent for a bit.
Absolutely. So, no albums in the works?
Marylynne: Well, we’re going to record a song and put it out—just one song for now—and then we might look into doing an EP. But we don’t want to go too crazy. We don’t want to lock them into anything.
Do you remember when the girls began showing interest in music?
Marylynne: I know everybody says this, but they’ve both been singing since birth. One year, we decided we were going to record a Christmas CD with Lennon. Maisy wasn’t even two yet and when we started recording Lennon, Maisy went and picked up the headphones and was like, ‘My turn, my turn!’ So, kind of just humoring her, we pushed record and she knew all the words and had perfect pitch.
For about ten years, we lived in a farmhouse in the bush where we had no phone, no Internet, no TV—I would wake up every single morning to them playing music and writing songs. Lennon got her first guitar when she was five. It was awesome.
What other instruments do you guys play?
Lennon: Well, we play lots of different instruments, but we don’t know exactly what we’re doing. We play piano, ukulele, guitar and the drums and fiddle a little bit.
Are there any other instruments you want to learn?
Maisy: I’ve always wanted to learn the mandolin.
Lennon: I really want to learn the dobro. I love it, the sound is so nice.
How have things changed since your video became so popular?
Maisy: Our life has changed and it’s so insane how fast it all came in. One day, Good Morning America called and I woke up and everyone was screaming, ‘We’re going to New York! We’re flying to New York at six o’clock!’ I was like, ‘What is going on here?’ [laughs]
What would you say has been the most exciting thing that has happened?
Lennon: Probably Good Morning America. And Ellen too.
Marylynne: Ellen contacted them, but that’s just a contact—we haven’t worked anything out just yet.
Oh wow. I know there are a lot of people online pushing for you to go on Ellen. What about your friends and people at school—what do they think about your videos?
Maisy: I texted my best friend Natalie and told her about it. She’s a really awesome friend, so she was really proud of me.
Lennon: I’ve only told two of my friends because it all happened while we were out of school. But, they pretty much found out on their own.
Who are your favorite musicians?
Do you have any favorite YouTube performers?
Lennon: Yeah, we go on and watch YouTube covers and stuff. We love these two sisters from England.
Maisy, what’s your favorite thing about playing music with your sister?
Maisy: It’s really amazing and fun for us. It just makes us really happy when we play music.
Do you guys ever get into arguments when you play?
Lennon: No, not about music. We get along for the most part, we never actually fight, we’ll just have disagreements over silly stuff.
Maisy: We get in arguments over really, really stupid stuff. But we love each other. We’re best friends, so.
That’s awesome. What are some of your other hobbies besides playing music?
Lennon: Well I really like to take pictures. And just for fun, we like to make lots of movies—you know, make storylines and edit them. I love to be outside riding bikes and going on little adventures. And I like to babysit. You know, and obviously music.
Maisy: I’m a Mommy’s helper with these two identical twins, I love to rollerblade, I love to make movies and I love to dance.
Do you guys like to read at all?
Maisy: I am the reader in the house! I absolutely love reading. I’m reading a 535-page book right now, The Ark, The Reed, and The Fire Cloud.
Wow! Well, thank you guys so much for talking with me.
Marylynne: They were so, so excited because they’re in love with Zooey.
Lennon: I love her. I’ve always loved her, since Elf. Someone told me that I had a similar voice as her and I’ll always remember that because I love her so much.
That’s very cool. Well have a wonderful rest of your summer!
Photo courtesy of the Stellas.