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Identical twins Sophia and Jo Babb start anew as Companion

Francesca McConnell
Companion is made up of identical twins, Jo and Sophia Babb, who were raised in Norman, Oklahoma and have been performing together since they were 15 years old.

This is Songwriters & Tour Riders, a music podcast from KOSU hosted by Matthew Viriyapah.

Folk music duo Companion released their debut album Second Day of Spring in May 2022. Companion is made up of identical twins, Jo and Sophia Babb, who were raised in Oklahoma, and have been performing together since they were at least 15 years old. In Oklahoma, they performed primarily under the name The Annie Oakley but after moving to Colorado, they felt ready for a fresh start musically.

The title track draws from a feeling they both had to start anew. In a new place, they were surrounded by new people and the natural scenery of Colorado.

In this episode, hear them talk about drawing inspiration from their new surroundings and friends, changing their name, touring with Tori Amos, and their process of writing songs together.

On a new name

Sophia: We started that band, Annie Oakley, when we were 15 years. We were pretty young. We were so new to music. And I was so enamored with the wild west and feminism.

It was just a huge part of my life at that point— of just a strong female western figure that was Annie Oakley. I loved her. That's kind of where the band came from. And we had a more country or Americana sound.

And over the years our sound changed, and we grew as people. And we ended up leaving Oklahoma and moving to Colorado, and we felt like it was time for a fresh chapter. Especially because when you start a band when you're 15 years old, it's nothing like what your sound is when you turn 20 or 25.

It's been ten years, and we wanted some more room for growth with a new name.

On writing together

Sophia: In terms of our songwriting, we have a pretty similar approach overall. But I know Jo often starts with instrumentation. She's a whiz with guitar. Even thought I started first with guitar, she surpassed me in terms of her ability. So oftentimes she'll write these intricate guitar parts.

But I think for me, I think I might start with lyrics first a little bit more. But overall, in terms of the changes we've experienced the last couple of years, I think we've embraced writing alone more. There's been way more instances of a song alone and bringing it to the other than there ever has in the past.

Jo: I think a good example is my song 'Forfeit.' I wrote the whole thing on my own. It was the pandemic. I was alone — isolated. And I thought this needs something. And usually that something is just Sophie's presence on the song.

So the melody was completely shifted to allow for harmony. And so while the integral parts of the song were not changed, the melody took some different directions based on her harmony contributions.

There's a line just saying, 'I would never let you feel ashamed.' I think that's at the core of what I look for in friendship and what I try and give, just this beautiful, welcoming space where you can say anything and be who you are and feel accepted. And that's just how we live here in Colorado. It's just like a big group kind of housing situation.

Sophia: It's kind of like a commune, but not weird.

On starting anew

Jo: I think to us, the phrase 'Second Day of Spring' just invoked a feeling of oncoming change. The coming of spring is always such an exciting time. It can also be a melancholy time. And just thinking about the second day of spring, it's already here like I'm already in the change.

And that song is just about leaving behind a relationship that no longer served me. And I've found that theme in so many different areas of life, just leaving behind what doesn't serve me. I think both me and Sophie connected to that idea for the title of this record. Just starting anew.

Companion's album 'Second Day of Spring' is out now.

Music featured in this episode:

  1. Companion - Snowbank
  2. The Annie Oakley - Pomp and Swell
  3. The Annie Oakley - If I Were a Ghost
  4. Companion - If I Were a Ghost
  5. Companion - Second Day of Spring
  6. Big Thief - The Only Place
  7. Tori Amos - Spies
  8. Companion - Forfeit
  9. Companion - Arm's Length
  10. Companion - 23rd Street
  11. Spinster - Sisyphus
  12. Companion - Newborn of Springtime
  13. Companion - How Could I Have Known
  14. Companion - Waiting for You

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Matthew Viriyapah is KOSU's production assistant and host of the music podcast Songwriters & Tour Riders.
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