By Keith Sharp
In the fall of 2013 it was just a simple little song recorded by Vancouver’s Lizzy Nelson on her home computer. Titled “Dancing In The Sky”, the composition was dedicated to a friend who had recently passed away, yet neither she nor her twin sister Dani could have possibly anticipated what would happen when that song went viral.
A lyrical message posing the question, what was it really like in heaven, seemed to strike a nerve with their young audience. First off, 500 Facebook responses were tabulated, and then when the song was uploaded to Youtube, 14 million viewers logged on to the video and the Nelson girls had a major hit on their hands.
On the phone from Vancouver where Dani and Lizzy are releasing their debut recording, `Work Of Heart’ on Chad Kroeger’s 604 Records, the girls emphasized that while the viral attention paid to “Dancing In The Sky” gave a major boost to their profile, it didn’t exactly kick start their career.
“We’ve been writing songs since we were about 11,” explained Dani. “We had an album’s worth of songs all ready to go but when “Dancing In The Sky” went viral we put everything on hold until we found a manager and a record company. That recognition changed a lot about our strategy but the key concern right away was to find the right manager.”
[styled_box title=”Dancing In The Sky – Dani & Lizzy” color=”black”][/styled_box]
In touching base with Jonathan Simkin, the girls connected with both a manager and a record company. Simkin had co-founded 604 Records with Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger in 2002 and as a manager had developed a number of the label’s artists including Coleman Hell who had just scored big with his “Two Heads” Single.
“We had approached Jonathan about us ghost writing for other people, Dani and I were eager to write for other artists,” added Lizzy. “We connected strongly with him, we asked him if he was interested in managing us and he felt as positive about us as we did about him.”
Signing for 604, a label that boasts such diverse talents as Nickelback, Theory Of A Deadman, Carly Rae Jepsen, country artists like Dallas Smith and Aaron Pritchett as well as hot newcomers like Coleman Hell, bodes well for Dani and Lizzy who come by their musical talents honestly, their brother being hot new rapper, DJ Emotionz (David Nelson) and their father being Juno Award-winning lead vocalist of The Payolas, Paul Hyde.
Understanding that today’s climate is all about marketing new music via social media, the Nelson’s are comfortable using these new tools to boost their careers but also aknowledge that it doesn’t hurt to have a major label in your corner.
“We’ve always thought as record companies as being the `Gatekeepers’ but really, they make a big difference in the industry’s perception of you,” allowed Dani. “To say we are represented by 604 forces radio stations to take us seriously. We have people supporting us and key people like Colin Janz (Carly Rae Jepsen, The Katherines) producing us.”
Although their debut opus “Work of Heart” is clearly targeted at a young, female audience, the Nelson Twins feel there is nothing wrong with writing songs that deliver positive lyrical messages “Lizzy and I feel there is too much negative music out there. Songs about body shaming, drugs and alcohol abuse,” Dani explained. “We wanted to write positive songs as a platform to inspire young girls, songs like “Happy In Her Skin”, “Back To Life” and “Do It Again” .
While breaking their new single “Keep Her Love” at radio is a priority for the girls, they have already discovered a unique way of spreading the word, by reaching out to small communities in Northern B.C and the Yukon.
“When you perform in small communities, word travels fast and we end up developing huge fan bases,” explained Lizzy. “We’d execute workshops with the youth, we do art and songwriting workshops and motivational speaking. We do that during the day and then put on a performance at night. A lot of those remote communities need positive inspiration and it’s great that we can provide it.”