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Interview: musical crush - Lennon and Maisy.

Interview: musical crush - Lennon and Maisy.

Thirteen-year-old Lennon Stella giggles down the phone-line, "I love your accent!". Whatever, I say, "I love YOUR accent." Lennon and her (nine-year-old) younger sister Maisy Stella are adorable. Absolutely adorable. Both of them chime in unison: "Thank you for allowing us to talk to you today, we're excited!"

It's a mutual feeling. After being wowed (along with the rest of the Internet) by their Robyn/Erato cover of 'Call Your Girlfriend' - which has now attracted over 14 million views - the sisters continued to steal the show with their seasoned performances as the daughters of lead-character Rayna James (Connie Britton) on 'Nashville'.

The likes of One Direction's Harry Styles, Amy Poehler, Imogen Heap, Julian Lennon and OK Go, are also big fans.

Coup De Main caught up with Lennon and Maisy recently, upon their arrival home from school...

"...[Our parents] they're keeping us in school right now - to keep us with regular friends, regular teachers, regular school and just keep us grounded!"

COUP DE MAIN: Has everyone at school been supportive of your musical and acting careers?
LENNON STELLA: For the most part, but some people are just being kind of mean...
CDM: But that just means that you know who your real friends are!
LENNON: Yeah and there's so much positive going on in our life - that there's a little bit of negativity that we could possibly find, we don't want to let it take over.

CDM: What has it been like for you juggling school and work?
LENNON: We have a tutor, she's actually coming tonight too - we have our tutor coming tonight and she helps us catch up on regular school and then we have a tutor on set that helps us. It's been really good actually, but it's been difficult to keep up in school-school.
MAISY STELLA: Yeah, like if you have homework and one night they're like... the teachers, some of them are being really easy and some of them have been hard - they're like 'okay here's your homework for tonight' and you already have stacks of homework at home already! <laughs>

CDM: You grew up in Toronto right? What memories do you have from growing up there?
LENNON: That area of Canada wasn't really our favourite part, but we love being there because of our family - we lived in the Whitby area, I was born in Oshawa. Oshawa isn't really my favourite little town-place, but we love going for our family and everything.

CDM: With your parents being musicians too, are there always family sing-alongs going on?
MAISY: Kind of yeah, we've always loved music and our parents obviously, are a duo - it's always been a musical environment. My Mom has seven brothers and sisters - she's one of eight - and her sister Tracy is musical as well as her brothers, it's all a musical environment as far as my Mom's side of the family.

CDM: Have you seen 'The Sound Of Music'? The family sing-alongs in that is sort of what I imagine your life to be like.
MAISY: I haven't...
LENNON: Yes! <laughs> Yes, oh my gosh yes!

CDM: What's your very earliest musical memory?
MAISY: I was two, no like one and a half maybe, me and Lennon... because my Mom is one of eight we have so many cousins like you have no idea, and we were downstairs in our laundry room, we had a really big laundry room and we were making a CD because we couldn't afford to buy all of our cousins gifts - it was a Christmas CD and Lennon she was singing the whole thing, and I just remember me being like: "Can I sing now? Can I sing now?!" Because I knew all the lyrics from her singing the whole song.
LENNON: My favourite musical memory was probably my school talent show and I played on my guitar 'You Are My Sunshine' and then all my classmates were way too fast, so I would have to follow them rather than them follow me, which was just so funny because I had some sort of rhythm, so I was trying to co-ordinate with them instead of them co-ordinate with me - it was fun but I remembered being so embarrassed because I was so off-time!

CDM: What instruments do you each play?
LENNON: I play guitar, ukulele, piano and the drums.
MAISY: For me, the drums, ukulele, guitar, piano... we kinda play the same things. I guess I play more piano than Lennon.
LENNON: Kind of whatever we want to play, we can learn it pretty quickly, but we don't learn it really well - we just kind of play what we know. Like I don't actually know chords on the piano, but I guess I can play it.

CDM: Are there any instruments you want to learn?
LENNON: I want to learn the oboe, it's such a pretty instrument.
MAISY: I want to learn the mandolin.

CDM: Do you have any songwriting influences and inspirations?
MAISY: For me, my parents [Brad Stella and Marylynne Stella] obviously.
LENNON: The Swell Season.
MAISY: Lori McKenna.
LENNON: I don't know really... I listen to all kinds of music, I like singer-songwriters, that's my favourite type, so anything in that genre I'm in love with.

CDM: Is there anyone in particular that you'd love to write songs with?
LENNON: The Swell Season - I know I always say them but they're always my favourite, they're such an inspiration.
MAISY: For me, it's still Lori McKenna, I love all the thought she always puts into her lyrics.
LENNON: I was thinking maybe Ben Howard or Ed Sheeran, that type of music.
MAISY: I love Ed Sheeran!
LENNON: That singer-songwriter upbeat-ness like Ed Sheeran-ish!

CDM: At what age did you write your very first song and what was it about?
LENNON: I wrote mine when I was seven. I went to this burn camp because I actually had a burn on my right leg in between on that part of my knee, so I went to this camp for children that has burns and it was really amazing - mine's not that big and it's not on somewhere... I can cover it up obviously, not that I'm ashamed or anything, but I remember the people that had it on their faces and they didn't feel like they could be open to showing and feeling different at camp, you know guys wearing swimming trunks and they can't. There's guys at the camp that are burnt all on their stomach and whole body and it's sad that they can't feel like they can wear swimming trunks like any other guy, and I found it really moving I guess, and I wrote this song when I was seven called 'The Way You Are'. We're all the same I guess. It was really beautiful because it became like a camp theme-song actually - I can't do it anymore right now but it was called Camp Bucko - it was such an amazing camp and now they sing the song even when I'm not there, it's just so amazing.

CDM: How do you come up with the harmonies and arrangements for your YouTube videos?
LENNON: Well Maisy's harmonies just come naturally, actually.
MAISY: Yeah, I've thought up harmonies since I was a baby, in my head.
LENNON: My Mom helps me and Maisy do arrangements and my Dad helps me with the guitar chords - my Mom really does the majority of the arrangements and parts, it's all a team effort.

CDM: Do your parents give you advice on the music industry?
LENNON: Yeah definitely, they know how to sing and where to go and where not to go, as far as musically and acting, because they've been in it for so long - the business side of it, they're aware of things that other parents may not be aware of so it's definitely good to have musical parents that know how to do it.

CDM: Do they try and keep your lives as normal as possible when you're not working?
LENNON & MAISY: Yes! Yes! Very much so.
LENNON: They're keeping us in school right now - to keep us with regular friends, regular teachers, regular school and just keep us grounded!

CDM: When did you all move to Nashville, the city?
MAISY: In 2009.

CDM: You two are my favourite thing about the TV show, 'Nashville'. Did you always want to act, as well as sing?
LENNON: Maisy's always wanted to do the acting thing, I never really... not that I didn't want to, I just never took it into consideration, you know? And then once I got the opportunity to be on the show it definitely... acting, I love it so much and the little bit we've done so far has just been extraordinary and we just love it so much. Yeah, I definitely want to do it for a portion of my life.
MAISY: I love acting so much I've wanted to do it since I was really, really, really little, so I just love it so much!
CDM: You still are little! <laughs>
MAISY: <laughs> But since I was really, really, really little!
LENNON: She means, like when she was still in my Mom's belly.

CDM: And it's pretty cool that the producers of 'Nashville' changed the role just to suit you two, because originally they were looking for two daughters aged 6 and 8?
MAISY: Yeah, that was a really neat thing! Lennon was in the car with me - because I was going to my third and final audition - and they called on the way in and Lennon was being very supportive helping me practice and stuff and they called and asked: "Where's Lennon and how fast can you get here? We've been re-thinking the ages..." And my mum was like: "Okay, yeah! She's right here!"
MARYLYNNE STELLA: Yeah that was definitely crazy, we were going through every emotion known to man.

CDM: What's it like having Connie Britton as your TV Mom?
MAISY: Oh my gosh, she's just so amazing!
LENNON: One example of how sweet she is - we were performing for The Grand Ole Opry, and when we were backstage in the room we have, there's like two big bouquets of flowers because she couldn't make it to The Grand Ole Opry show because she was on the plane, and she left these flowers and a note saying 'wish you guys good luck and so much love', which is just so thoughtful. Everyone on the show is such a big family.

CDM: Are you two going to get to sing on the show again?
LENNON: We would hope so - I think the writers, they told us they want us to sing so I hope they're setting it up in the episodes coming soon.

CDM: What's your favourite thing about being on 'Nashville'?
MAISY: Well for me it's the cast, Hayden Panettiere for me is like incredible amazing and Connie Britton, everyone is like so, so sweet.
LENNON: And Eric [Close] - everyone is just so amazing, they are really, really sweet people.
MAISY: Every day we get to wake up and go on set, it's just so happy.
LENNON: Definitely, it's such a fun experience it doesn't even feel like work, only we get paid.

CDM: Do your parents let you watch everything on 'Nashville'? Or just the child-friendly parts?
LENNON: For the most part right now we are watching it, I guess for me it's not too bad, but for Maisy and Maisy's friends watching it...
MAISY: When we invite them over - sometimes on Wednesdays if there's a big scene for me we invite them over and it's like a big party - some of my friend's Moms will be like: "I don't think they should be watching this..." My Mom will be like: "It's fine, they can cover their eyes." <laughs> My Mom is pretty lenient, so unless it gets really bad... but it's a ABC show, so it's never going to be that 'bad'.

CDM: I read that the likes of Amy Poehler and OK Go have been asking to collaborate with you?
LENNON: Yeah! That was at the very beginning and such an amazing thing as well! In the meantime, Harry Styles tweeted us!
MAISY: I saw that [and] I was like screaming, like you have no idea, I was freaking out and all my friends were like: "Did he actually tweet you?!" And he did! <laughs> Now we're best friends. Kidding!
LENNON: I think he's such a great singer and he's such a cute guy, I'm a huge fan!
CDM: He's such a babe. I met him last year and he was great.
MAISY: You met him?! Was he sweet?
CDM: Yeah he was lovely. The whole band were nice guys - I hope you get to meet them one day! Maybe they'll take you on tour with them.
MAISY: Okay, wow my heart's beating!

CDM: You've been getting a lot of Twitter love from celebrities. Who's been your favourite to hear from?
LENNON: Harry Styles was so amazing and totally my favourite, and Imogen Heap tweeted and Julian Lennon was my other one.

CDM: Answer this separately, if L.E.N.N.O.N. and M.A.I.S.Y. were acronyms, what would each letter stand for?
LENNON: L can be for Loving, E can be Enthusiastic, N can be nerd... can we come back to me?
MAISY: M would be mischievous, A is Appreciative, I can be Insane, S can be Sneaky... Sweet? I'm sweet, sweet!, Y can be YouTube!
LENNON: N, I guess it will be nice, O can be open-minded or original... N for Nut-head!
MAISY: Can I change the A on mine to awesome?

CDM: What's your favourite thing about your sister?
LENNON: My favourite thing about Maisy is that every really good thing that happens to me - like the episode we're filming, I'm shooting [and] I have a few extra scenes - Maisy's just excited about it instead of being like: "Awww I wish that was me." How she's always excited about what's coming next for me!

CDM: If you could be any Disney princess, which one would you want to be?
LENNON: I really like your questions!
MAISY: I would wanna be Cinderella!
MARYLYNNE: But she has to clean the house?
MAISY: Oh, then I'd rather be Sleeping Beauty!
LENNON: And me, because I'm OCD and I like to organised, I'd be Cinderella because she likes to clean!

CDM: If you could be best friends with any one in the whole wide world, who would you want to be best friends with?
LENNON: Steven Tyler!
MAISY: Selena Gomez, if I see a picture of her I just start crying... I love her.

CDM: If you could have the clothes from any character in any movie or TV show, who would you choose?
LENNON: The 'Pretty Little Liars' show, their wardrobe - Hannah's. No, no, no. Aria? No, no, Spencer's!
MAISY: If they had the 'Pretty Little Liars' clothes in kids sizes, I'd want Aria's clothes!

CDM: What are your five favourite things in the whole wide world?
LENNON: Mine are Caso [cheese], my guitar, my oxfords, Goodwill, the arts.
MAISY: My five favourite things would probably be music and acting, Nashville the city, my family...
MARYLYNNE: Lennon picked cheese over her family!
LENNON: I love my family too!
MAISY: My guitar... well that'd be part of my music...
LENNON: My friends.
MAISY: My pets, and one more... my friends, yeah my friends!
LENNON: I need to change my caso to my oxfords, to my 'Live Life, Love' bracelet.
MAISY: I've always worn this necklace and they let me wear it on 'Nashville' - they know it's really special to me - it's got a horseshoe on it, it's a horseshoe necklace.

CDM: Have you watched the movie 'Despicable Me'?
MAISY: I love that movie!
LENNON: It's one of my favourite movies, I really, really do love it!
MAISY: It's really funny.
CDM: Rad. Well they're making a sequel which is coming out in a few months, so we're asking everyone that we interview... what is the most despicable thing you've ever done?
LENNON: I slapped my cousin in the face when I was about six or seven, but I've always felt really guilty. I do feel very guilty.

CDM: What's been the biggest highlights of your life so far?
LENNON: I would say a mixture between our 'Call Your Girlfriend' cover and 'Nashville' and playing The Grand Ole Opry.
MAISY: The Grand Ole Opry and 'Nashville' and 'Call Your Girlfriend'. The same things for both us, 'cuz we're in it together.

CDM: What's next for Lennon and Maisy?
LENNON: We're just going to keep acting and see where it takes us, we're going to do movies in the time that we have and obviously just keep doing music because we love it!

CDM: 'Nashville' isn't airing on New Zealand TV until later this year, but I know you've got a lot of fans here from your online videos, so promise me that when you're super famous and touring all around the world you two will remember to come visit us in New Zealand okay?
LENNON & MAISY: YES! Yes please!!

'THE MUSIC OF NASHVILLE: SEASON 1, VOLUME 1' soundtrack is out now - featuring LENNON AND MAISY's cover of 'Telescope'.

Click HERE to read CDM Issue #7.

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