THE KOLARS: The Process Of Music Through The Sublime


By Carla Sanchez Taylor (RiPple PudDle)

DO NOT Miss The Kolars, Saturday, September 30th at Barracuda in Austin, Texas.
More information on tour dates can be found at

by Carla Sanchez Taylor (RiPple PudDle)

It’s dark and shadows are present. It’s very late on a weeknight and the sluggish crowd is anticipating the Kolars to take the stage. I’ve seen them before as part of He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister, but never as a duo. What I do know standing there lightly holding my breath out of nervousness is that I’ve just spent thirty minutes talking to them in the trailer behind the venue and kind of also falling in love. They finish each other’s sentences and also mine. They look as though they’ve seen something on the other side of the creative pursuit and somehow landed wisely on all four paws.

The lights come on now and they have purposely begun to build the atmosphere; he is playing something upbeat, she is pulsating on the drum with faraway eyes. We are on the journey with them now. Are we in the desert or the moon? Are we wild with passion or pensively engrossed? I can’t tell.

It makes me think about the theological etymology of the word synergy. It involves a connection between divine effort and human will. In this case, husband and wife, Rob and Lauren Kolar are locked in marriage where rhythmic cadence and lyrical composition coexist. And you just never ever want to take your eyes off them.

Carla: There is a remarkable evolution in your sound from the previous incarnation, He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister. To create music that represents who you are now, some shedding is required. How would you say that you were able to find your new voice?

Rob: We were hit with a mixture of circumstances that forced us to change and address the direction we wanted to take creatively. When He’s My Brother ended, we had to reinvent what we wanted to do because we wanted to continue on. From that realization came the exploration. Of course, we are influenced by the past but how can we also simultaneously dive into the future? Could we incorporate futuristic elements, whether in the aesthetics and sounds? It’s almost a symbolic question of “how can we bridge the future and the past?”

Lauren: Yes, we wanted to make something original, something that speaks to us. We are fans of so many current artist and older artists. It’s important to honor those sounds that we love but it has to feel like our own voice, and that’s the challenge. I guess we were just trying to throw a bunch of shit at the wall to see what we love and what sticks. Also, the question of what we can do as a duo was a major factor. We had new questions like: is a duo enough? Does the audience need more? Do they need an orchestration?


Rob: And how much can be accomplished within those limitations? There was something fun about the minimalism and what we could explore with just two people.

Lauren: But then you’re just exposed too.

Rob: You really are.

Lauren: You can’t hide behind other things anymore.

Rob: There’s also something really nice about that though.

Carla: It’s always those damn awful things that happen to us that tend to add girth, significance and meaning to the work. It’s actually the best and most torturous part.

Lauren: We’ve faced that a fair amount, if not daily. He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister ended because people wanted to do other things. This is a hard life. You have to really love it. So I understood that it didn’t work out but I was pretty heart-broken. It was the only thing that made sense to me. So when that was taken away, I just felt lost. I thought it was the worst thing that could happen and it was through this experience that we found a newer version of ourselves. I couldn’t be more fulfilled, satisfied and challenged.

Rob: Having those struggles helps shape the music and gives you more depth as an artist. You can hear the life experiences in the music in some of our favorite artists, whether it’s Tom Waits, Spoon or Lou Reed. These ups and downs may feel painful in the moment but always turn into something interesting artistically.

Carla: Music calls upon several senses and communicates messages in a holistic manner. What are the themes that you find yourselves transmitting to your listeners again and again?

Rob: Music is such an abstract form and you can experience it in so many different ways: the lyrical and melodic components, the setting, the device. It has all these layers that you as the listener are observing. I think in many ways it can even have subliminal messages. We are somewhat aware of that. A song like Dizzy on the surface is a fun dance song but there’s also this social commentary that’s interwoven in the lyrics and in the feeling. Whether that’s penetrating or not, I don’t know, but it’s there if you want it.

Lauren: For me I think in terms of rhythm or where a beat will hit a person’s body. At night sometimes I think about the songs and go ‘Okay, where does “Dizzy” live in my body? It seems to live in my chest and there’s a bounce to it’. A song like “One More Thrill” lives in my pelvis. I just think about where that energy comes from, where it goes and what it will open up for the person experiencing the song.

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Carla: Lauren, what you’re doing in terms of instrumentation and dance requires a whole new form of intelligence. You’re essentially using your body as a producer of sound. How do you physically and mentally connect your dancing to the instrument? Is there a mindset you go to or have you attained the muscle memory to where you’re confident and able to expand beyond that?

Lauren: Every night is going to be different. I have a theatre background and it’s helped me learn that you should rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Then right before you get onstage you say ‘Fuck it, where is tonight going to take me?’ To me, I want every song to teach me something new. I want my body to surprise me. I want to go on a journey. I want to escape my own life for 45 minutes and give people that escape too. Whatever happens up there, I’ve gone somewhere else. I’ve let my body take over and my brain just stops. It’s my favorite thing. I think that’s where my joy lives because I’m normally such a neurotic person.

Are you aware of your surroundings or are you completely in the momentum?

Rob: It’s a balance to where you escape into another world or dimension but you’re still able to connect with the audience. It’s a bit of a tightrope walk and the more you do it, the more you’re able to attain that balance.

Carla: Are you able to achieve that when writing music? Are you detaching ego from perspective?

Rob: I think you can achieve the same fulfillment. It is different from the on-stage connection because you are also in an energetic dialogue with the crowd. With creation, it’s more like tapping into a dialogue with the ether or with some sort of creative frequency that’s out there and you just kind of have to be there to grab it.

Carla: How do you connect with that frequency?

Rob: It takes patience or it’s just in the moment. Being open to it mostly, but what I’ve found is that when I’m reaching for it, rarely does it happen in a way that’s long-lasting or that turns into a song that I’m really proud of. It’s usually spur of the moment but you have to surrender to it and somehow simultaneously capture it.

Carla: Are you looking for indicators, sequences or signposts?

Rob: I think that if you do, then you’re reaching. Obviously you have to have your guitar in your hand in order to express it. But simply being open and ready at any moment, it could happen.

Carla: What if you’re in the supermarket?

Rob: Then you hang on to it or you run home and grab a guitar. Sometimes you can hold it but usually it is fleeting.

Lauren: Also Rob, just from knowing you so well, you communicate what you’re going through easier with your guitar in your hand. It doesn’t have to become a song. When you’re going through a tough time your guitar is usually in your hand just because that’s a way to express the things you don’t know how to talk about. That’s how you connect with your own emotions and the place from where you write songs.

Rob: It’s therapy and sometimes from that therapy a song comes out unexpectedly.

Carla: It’s a meditation almost.

Lauren: Absolutely.

Rob: It is.

Carla: Do you find that same meditation in dancing?

Lauren: I do. I find it in rhythm in general. There’s something about rhythm that’s like a different language. If I put the blinker or windshield wipers on, sometimes I’ll think about what rhythms can go in between the sounds. It’s a simpler way to feel life for me, in these patterns.

Carla: What legacy do you guys want to leave with your music?

Lauren: I want to make people give less of a fuck. I give so much of a fuck all of the time, but up there I feel very strong. I don’t care if this person likes me or that person. I just don’t care. I want other people to feel that way too. I’d also hope to inspire people to take risks because it was really scary for me to try this whole new thing, learning to play the drums as a dancer. It was so hard but I believe that if I can do it, then anybody can do it.

Rob: I would love to think that I touched millions of people in an inspiring way; to feel something, whether at a show, or through listening to the lyrics of a song. I love the idea of being able to connect with a stranger, maybe across an ocean, to Japan, India, Australia or England, and knowing that your art, your spirit or psyche somehow reached another person and that it meant something to them. That’s what has inspired us personally as musicians, whether it was through Tina Turner, or the Ramones. If you can do that for someone else, then you’re perpetuating that and paying it forward.

Do not miss The Kolars, Saturday, September 30th at Barracuda in Austin, Texas.
More information on tour dates can be found at


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