The Ticket: Lily & Madeleine Change Their Tune

The local songsters get introspective with their latest album, Nite Swim.
Photo courtesy Anna Powell Denton

SISTERS Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz burst onto the scene with their self-titled debut album in 2013 and have since toured the United States and worked with Hoosier hero John Mellencamp. A decade later, the Indianapolis folk-pop duo is reflecting on the road that led them to where they are today through the lens of their latest album, Nite Swim.

Released on October 6, it consists of vignettes from the duo’s lives over the past five years. While it was written during the pandemic, Lily and Madeleine insist it’s not your typical pandemic record. “Our previous album, Canterbury Girls, was made in 10 days, while years of work went into Nite Swim because of the pandemic,” Lily recalls. “But it’s not about the pandemic. Those were just the circumstances surrounding its creation.”

Lily and Madeleine agree that the period of isolation in which Nite Swim was made led them down a more introspective path, however. “Even though the record is not necessarily about the pandemic, it certainly touches on emotions that probably everybody felt then. Loneliness, rejection, isolation, and existential questions of identity,” Madeleine says. “Suddenly, we weren’t able to play shows anymore, and I thought to myself, Oh my God. Am I no longer an artist? Will I ever be able to do this again? It’s something that I’m still coming back from. I’m still working through that.”

While writing Nite Swim, the sisters also had time to reflect on some of the sacrifices they made as teenagers entering the music industry. “It all happened so fast,” Lily says of how the duo’s music career began. “We met our first manager three days after I turned 15. Basically, we started working as soon as I started high school, so I wasn’t really socialized the same way as my friends were.”

Madeleine shares her younger sister’s sentiment when looking back on the duo’s origins. “I don’t regret a lot because I do feel everything adds up to bring us to where we are today, but I certainly wish there were things that we didn’t have to live through, especially Lily,” Madeleine says. “I had the privilege of being able to graduate high school, but Lily didn’t. At the time, it felt like it made sense because we were putting our whole heart and soul into our music career. I don’t regret that, but I still wish that there were choices that we didn’t have to make.”

Considering the impact this had on her personally, Lily admits she is still learning to take good care of herself. “I think because work was popping off and we were blowing up so much, my personal life and what I needed as a human being was sort of an afterthought,” she says. “I’ve realized lately that I’ve spent my 20s thinking that it’s kind of stupid to take care of myself. So I’m trying to learn how to do better at that.”

The sisters acknowledge their latest album is darker in tone than previous material, including Canterbury Girls.

“It was about denial and fantasy. If Canterbury Girls is sunset, then Nite Swim is when the darkness finally descends,” Lily says. “It’s about rejection and being left alone with the bad thoughts and the worst parts of yourself … but [finding] acceptance anyway.”

After releasing their previous four albums via Asthmatic Kitty Records and New West Records, Lily and Madeleine self-released the latest album with no label backing. “Being independent comes with challenges, but it’s empowering and a learning experience,” Lily says. “I’m feeling pretty good about the future, whatever it holds.”

After an East Coast tour in October, the pair is set to headline the Lo-Fi Lounge in Fountain Square on November 25. “We’re doing as much touring as possible,” Lily says. “And we want to get started on the next record.”