On March 9, the day they turned 19, it seemed timely for Alanna and Brianne Finn-Morris to sign a record and management contract.
The musical twin sisters are now working with Vancouver-based 604 Records, the company that brought the songs of Nickelback, Carly Rae Jepsen and other hit-making artists to ears around the world.
The siblings once sang as Alanna & Brianne, but that handle has been spiked in favour of Fionn, an Irish spin on their Finn surname.
Whether it’s pronounced “FEE-on” or the more accurate “fee-UN” doesn’t seem to matter to Alanna and Brianne.
“Either way sounds cool,” Brianne said.
“Both work,” Alanna added.
The Now recently caught up with them in a three-way phone interview from their White Rock-area home – which is great, except they sound EXACTLY alike, making IDs difficult for the reporter on the other end of the line. They also tend to finish each other’s sentences, adding to the strength of their wonder-twin powers.
Harmonies come easy for these sisters, who together have sung and strummed locally for many, many years.
“During high school,” Alanna related, “we gigged so much on weekends, at restaurants and places like that – probably more than 100 shows a year.”
Upon graduation from Holy Cross Regional High School in Surrey, they decided to take a bit of a break from performing.
“We wanted to focus more on writing and recording over the past year or so,” Brianne said, “but we’re getting excited for when we can actually go out and tour and play these new songs, which is our dream.”
Turns out there was a reason for the sisters’ sabbatical from gigging.
Nearly a year ago, the sisters showcased their folk-pop, slightly country-ish ditties for Jonathan Simkin, the 604 boss. He liked what he heard in a demo performance, but then challenged the teens to write more originals and spend less time on their medley of Ed Sheeran songs and other covers they love doing.
“I told them that if they could come back here and play some original songs that are more memorable than the covers they did, I’d sign them,” Simkin recalled.
“You’re young,” he told them at the time, “there’s time, there’s no rush.”
Months went by, and Simkin, in his words, “kind of forgot about them. I really was interested in them, but things like that happen and people sometimes disappear after a conversation like that.”
Not the Finn-Morris girls.
One day, Simkin received an email with a demo version of a song called “Magazine Face” – catchy and full of disarming lyrics about “little girls (who) want to grow up and be wanted.”
Simkin was impressed.
“They really took my advice to heart,” he said. “Then they sent another song and another one, and the floodgates opened. Suddenly I have a handful of really strong songs.”
And the girls got their deal.
STORY CONTINUES BELOW
Looking back, Alanna and Brianne now know those first songs they played for Simkin just weren’t good enough.
“The thing is,” Alanna explained, “we started songwriting when we were, like, 12, but our parents never lied to us. They were really supportive but they’d never say, ‘Hey, that’s great,’ when it wasn’t. Maybe some people would have hurt feelings but we’re OK with that. We’re more like, ‘OK, let’s just improve.’”
Recently, Simkin connected the sisters with Louise Burns, formerly of the band Lillix and a Polaris Prize long-listed nominee in 2011, to record new songs, including “Magazine Face” and “Skeleton.”
As a “development act,” Fionn is in a good place right now.
“It’s not about wanting a hit and putting something out there and crossing our fingers,” Simkin noted. “I truly believe they have a chance of having a long career in this business, and it’s about doing it right, not fast. I’m really excited about the possibilities here, about sharing their music with the world when it’s ready.”
Once final mixes and mastering is done, the goal is to make Fionn’s newest songs available to the public later this spring, perhaps summer.
“It’s really exciting right now,” Brianne said, “because this is what we’ve always wanted to do, forever. We used to have, I don’t know, stuffed animals, and we’d make a family band and then they’d tour the world and do concerts.”
Alanna jumped in, on cue.
“I guess we were weird kids maybe. Like, how did we even know what any of that stuff was?”