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QA – Ella & Sienna

Fresh from their debut on popular television show The Voice, Mt Barker sibling singers Ella and Sienna McClean share about how the experience influenced their style, what it was like being mentored by British pop sensation Rita Ora and what’s next for them.

You’ve been singing together since you could talk. How did you discover your passion and talent for singing?

Sienna: We always loved singing together. As kids we were those weird children who would be like ‘Mum, Dad, we’re putting on a show for you’. So we loved it from a young age, especially because Mum and Dad were really into music.

Dad played a bit of guitar and they just had really great music taste, so we were just around it a lot and we kind of just fell into it.

Ella: Everyone in our family has had such a big appreciation for music and great taste in music, so we’ve grown up with a massive variety of influences.

Sienna: Mum’s super into Pink which is really cool. We actually saw a couple of her concerts when we were really young so that was a massive influence on us and Dad was really into grunge and rock and all that – Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and all those types of bands, so that was a big influence as well.

Ella: It was that and then us with Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Attune and it’s all kind of blended into one I guess, so when people ask us to describe our original sound we can’t ever really put a genre or a style on it, it’s a blend of all things.

The Voice

You both recently appeared on Channel 7’s talent show The Voice. This was something that Sienna pushed for. How did Sienna convince you to apply, Ella?

Ella & Sienna

Ella: It was tough. Sienna’s one for the vision boards and I remember it was the start of 2020 and she put on her vision board we’re going to get on the main stage of the Tamworth Country Music Festival and I thought ‘well that’s not going to happen’.

It just so happens we got into the top 10 of the busking competition and we got on the main stage.

And the following year she wrote on her vision board, we’re going to be on The Voice, so I got a little bit scared, but it was a dream she’s had for ages and I thought you know what, if we do it, it will be a good time for us and our career, it could be the next step for exposure and reaching a bigger audience.

I honestly didn’t think we’d get to the blind audition stage, and then it just happened and I couldn’t really back out. But I’m grateful for the experience, for sure.

During The Voice you were mentored by British singer Rita Ora. But you were originally set to choose Australian country singer Keith Urban. How did Rita sway you to join her team?

Sienna: We were definitely going for Keith, we’re big fans of Keith because we love country music as well, but the thing that really won us over was Rita’s speech, so once we heard that we thought ‘I think we’re going to go with Rita’.

It was about her bond with her sister, the connection and we just felt like we shared that connection with her and she really knew what to do with us.

Ella: We were on the stage and we had Rita, Jess and Keith turn around and we just had the strongest gut feeling and it paid off because she took us through to the battles.

Mentoring

Did Rita’s mentoring and her pop style of music influence the direction of your music?

Sienna: I wouldn’t say it really influenced our style because we do love pop music and we got given pop songs when we sung, but we did actually get some great feedback from her about letting go and being in the moment, so that’s something that we’ll definitely take away.

Ella: I think as performers, Rita said we like to be very calculated, we like to be in control of everything so nothing can go wrong and Sienna and I are very much that way to the point where sometimes we can stress too much and Rita just was really all about just let go and be in the moment, which is really hard to do on national TV, but it was helpful for sure.

Television audiences

You’re experienced in live performances, having performed at a number of venues and events across SA and at Ekka and Tamworth.

But how did it feel performing in front of not only a live audience, but a national television audience of hundreds of thousands of people?

Ella: Walking out onto the stage was the most surreal feeling – I just told myself over and over, ‘focus on the song, you’ve got to sing for 90 seconds’, to the point that when the song finished, I kind of went ‘what now’? I’d forgotten everything else.

Sienna: So when the first chairs turned around we were like ‘oh my god, that’s what’s supposed to happen’, we were just so in the song.

Ella: I call it a blackout performance … I got off the stage and didn’t remember anything.

Anything different?

Is there anything you’d do differently about your time on The Voice?

Sienna: I don’t think that there’s anything I would do differently. I was really proud of our performance and how we did and in the end it’s a TV show and it was a great step for us and I’m really proud that we took that step.

Ella: I think the only thing is just getting to sing a few more songs, because the whole backstage element is a massive, massive process and it honestly felt like 12 hours backstage and then you sing for one minute and we were just so keen to sing.

Song inspiration

You recently released a single, Saved. What was the inspiration for this song?

Sienna: The inspiration behind that single was kind of taking the classic fairy tale story about a prince saving the princess and kind of flipping it on its head, saying it’s not really true and that doesn’t need to happen, because as young women in the music industry we really want to stand up for ourselves and be empowering so that was the inspiration for the song.

Ella: Sienna came up with the idea first and I straight away thought it was a really strong theme that we could work with and it was one of those songs that kind of wrote itself.

Country roots

You’ve had a lot of success in the country music sector. Is Saved a move away from your country roots?

Sienna: We take a whole heap of different things from different genres and storytelling is something we’ll always have from country music.

I wouldn’t say our original music is necessarily that country sounding, but definitely in the storytelling it’s quite country and we use real instruments which is kind of not that common these days.

Ella: We don’t worry too much about the genre or the style when we
write and I guess what comes out comes out.

What’s next?

What’s next for you? Is there a full album in the works?

Ella: We have a new single coming soon, at the end of October.

Sienna: We have heaps and heaps of original music that’s going to come out really soon.

Ella: We haven’t announced anything yet, but people can expect a lot more original music, there will be an EP down the track somewhere.

Performing partner?

Finally, if you could perform live on stage with any musician, who would it be and why?

Both: Taylor Swift.

Sienna: She’s just incredible.

Ella: She’s our music mum, I feel like everything we know – obviously our music teachers and our parents – but overall, musically, is Taylor Swift.

Sienna: Her song writing is just amazing.

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