With a New Album — and a New Live-Music Landscape — Husband-Wife Band Twin Lovers Returns to the Stage
HUSBAND AND WIFE Markus and Melissa Jean Cone, who make music together as Twin Lovers, and are currently gigging in support of their new album Hero, are seated on a bench in a tiny park in the Heights. Markus, a classically trained pianist with a passion for synthesizers, is tall, with a great pair of eyebrows that complement his thoughtful, serious demeanor. Melissa occasionally brushes her dark bangs from her eyes, her sotto voce speaking voice belying the rich, full-bodied timbre of her vocals on their recordings.
On Hero, Melissa sings in English and occasionally in Japanese, the language of her maternal grandmother who survived the bombing of Nagasaki and after the war lived the rest of her life in small-town Mississippi. This bit of familial history is one of the many threads running through the songs on the harmonic and ethereal album.
The couple met at the CAMH, and discovered a mutual appreciation for music and art — but didn't consider creating as Twin Lovers until after they got married in 2018. "Everything we work on is this kind of transdisciplinary experience," says Markus, who holds an MFA in studio art from UH, while Melissa completed her BFA in art at The Art Institute of Chicago. Many of the songs on Hero were composed in tandem with some kind of visual component; a collection of original film stills, photos and drawings are included in the album download.
Much of Hero was recorded and mixed during the pandemic. "There was an urgency and frustration in the world," says Melissa of how the timing informed the album's content. "If you're forced to have free time, then maybe you unlock certain aspects of your character that you didn't give yourself time to explore before."
With the pandemic receding, Twin Lovers has returned to performing live, and on Dec. 4, will take the stage at Wonky Power Live. On a good night, says the pair, performing live can be a transcendental experience, where time seems to stop. "You really suspend the narrative of 'now,'" says Markus of the "flow" musicians, filmmakers and visual artists strive to initiate with their work. "Things are happening, and you don't know if it's past, present or future."
And with that, like a moment in a Tarkovsky film, or a Twin Lovers video, a leaf falls to the ground, the wind picks up, and Melissa and Markus remain resolutely still, breathing in the moment of now.