Interview: The Reklaws

Raised in rural Ontario, The Reklaws are comprised of the brother-sister duo Jenna and Stuart Walker. The Reklaws (Walker backwards) began to turn heads in 2012 when they were awarded the CCMA Discovery Artist title followed by the 2013 Boots & Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase title. Since then, they have shared the stage with some of country’s best including Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Thomas Rhett and more. The pair have spent long hours in Nashville crafting their songs and their efforts have paid off as they came back with an infectious sound, with an authentic mix of pop and country and a “soundtrack-to-your-summer” vibe. The Reklaws took the summer of 2017 by storm with their major label debut with Universal Music Canada and release of their debut single “Hometown Kids” which quickly charted at #15. As a follow up, their chart-rattling lead single and title track from their EP, “Long Live The Night”, has been the most streamed song in all of Canadian country music released this year, hit top five on Canadian Country Radio charts, hit gold certification and was named as the official theme song for CFL’s Thursday Night Football on TSN. The duo recently took the award for SiriusXM Rising Star at the 2018 CCMA awards and performed “Long Live The Night” live in the national broadcast. Stay tuned for much more to come as the Reklaws continue solidify themselves as the next superstars in country music in Canada. We caught up by phone…

Mb: Hello Jenna and Stuart. Where are you two?
Jenna: Hello. We’re both in Toronto, just in seperate places.
Mb: Has it been a busy day for you?
Stuart: Very uneventful day compared to what this last month has been like for us. It’s nice to have a Monday like that.
Mb: Looks like you have a busy summer ahead.
Jenna: Oh yeah. Lots of shows. It’s just getting started this weekend, so we’re excited.
Mb: Do you like playing live?
Stuart: Oh yeah. Live is where we started our love of music. We didn’t write before. We just played other people’s songs and then other people started saying “You guys are so good live you should write your own stuff” and that started it all for us.
Mb: As a brother-sister act, do you ever get tired of each other?
Jenna: (laughs) We have our times, for sure, but I think we both realized that we both love doing it. There’s times when we have to sacrifice stuff and times when we have to work together, we’re both really grateful for that, I think. We travel so much it’s nice to have a piece of home with you where ever you go.
Mb: You have each other’s back.
Stuart: Exactly, you can read a room so easily when your sibling is there. Whether it’s a good vibe or a bad vibe, with writing, with music, with anything, we can read each other’s mind. It’s like, we’re together all the time. (laughs)
Mb: Describe the writing process. Are you both coming to each other with musical ideas? Who writes what?
Jenna: Everyday is kinda different, in the writing room. It depends who you’re working with. Stu and I tend to go to a writing room with a list of titles or ideas and then we pitch them to the writers to see what they think. Sometimes, they’ll have an idea. We play off one another. And sometimes it’s like someone will have a whole track done with no lyrics or melody, and we can get a vibe off that. Everyday is different and that’s what makes it fun.
Stuart: I would say the basically the same thing. The past trip to Nashville we did, a month long, and we went down with 50 to 100 ideas each and we just pitched them out. It’s all about the vibe you’re feeling that day and hopefully they’re on the same wave length. That’s how great songs are made, I feel.
Mb: Your songs walk a fine line between being country or pop, aside from Stuart’s baritone voice, which you don’t hear much in pop… could you have been a pop band or has it always been country?
Jenna: I don’t know. I would say country has always been the thing. We also grew up listening to so many types of music and I feel that contributed to what we do as a band. We love brass, we love hip-hop, we love the top 40, and we take pieces of all those and put them in our songs somehow, but try to keep it as country as we can!
Mb: We’re your parents listening to a lot of music at home?
Stuart: Oh yeah. Our dad had great taste in music growing up. On the way to hockey we’d listen to Neil Young… and the Eagles! Our parents now wish they were in The Reklaws. The stars didn’t align. (laughs)
Mb: Are your parents performers?
Jenna: They’re entertainers. They walk into a room and they can’t live without having some of the attention.
Mb: So that’s where you get it from. As young kids, did you form an act early?
Stuart: We had a lot of shows up at our country when.. the youngest I was, was 12 and Jenna was like 14. We would play up at our cottage at open mic nights and then one night our mom was like, “Why don’t you guys call yourselves The Reklaws and make it an actual band” and from there we’ve been doing it ever since…. and now we’re here! (laughs)
Mb: All that time together shows. One of the reasons you’re speeding up the charts and going from opening a show at Crary Park to a year later headlining it!
Stuart: Oh my gosh. We’re so excited about that. It’s insane. That’s like one of the coolest venues. It’s a free show and the entire town shows up for every show. I would move to Peterborough, just for that festival!
Jenna: Me too!
Mb: The folks at Musicfest do an outstanding job.
Stuart: We’ve grown to love one of the people there, Tracy. She’s so awesome. We’re so excited. One of our best shows, for sure.
Mb: You also have a connection here with Shannon McNevan who has been instrumental in helping you build the brand, as they say…
Jenna: I feel that Peterborough has become such a huge part of our lives. Anyone who has had a real deep connection with us, or has created a path for us to succeed in this business, some how, is connected to Peterborough. For us, that town just feels like home.

The Reklaws appear at Peterborough Musicfest Wednesday July 10.