Sibling Telepathy: How We Make Music as Brother and Sister

Vulnerability is where the true creativity seeps in

"So you guys are brother and sister? And you write all your music together?"

And then, after a tentative pause:

"…And… how exactly does that work?"

It's a question the two of us get a lot, with varying levels of skepticism. It's definitely true that music history hasn't exactly painted the healthiest picture of creativity between siblings—Gallaghers, I'm looking at you. And if I'm honest, there are genuinely times I want to kill Chris. I mean, he is my little brother. But when it comes to music, we've always been a team. 

Songwriting is terrifying. Like any art, it requires risk. You've got to stick your neck out if you want to end up with something you're proud of. That melody you've been experimenting with in the shower for weeks? Share it. That line of lyrics you've hidden away in the darkest corner of your notes app? Drag it into the light. That personal experience you've been trying your best to forget? Write a song about it. Jump off the cliff, express the feelings, sing what you've never been able to say. It's hard enough to do these things by yourself. But to do it collaboratively with others? That requires a lot of trust. 

That's where being siblings comes in. I know Chris better than anybody else, and vice versa. We've been best friends since we started existing. We trust each other, and that means we can support each other in our most vulnerable artistic moments. We can share the story, or vocalize the dumb idea, or play the riff that just might be good with a little work. We're comfortable being uncomfortable. Those vulnerabilities are where the true creativity seeps in.

We've also got a lifetime of shared experiences that serve as shorthand when it comes to communicating our thoughts and ideas. There are just so many things I don't have to explain—I can just say something like "dippin' dot brain freeze" or "that bus driver with the hat" or "remember that time when…" and he'll get it. We can build creative ideas quickly this way, because we're drawing from the same set of experiences. Call it sibling telepathy. 

It should be noted that we do have normal sibling moments just like anybody else. Nothing Gallagher-level, but still. Luckily we've also got a lifetime of experience working out our disagreements. I'm happy to say that problem-solving very rarely comes down to arm-wrestling anymore—he would win, anyway. But no matter what the conflict is, there's never any doubt that we'll figure out a solution eventually. "Breaking up the band" isn't really an option when you have to see each other every Christmas.

Does he drive me insane sometimes? Definitely. Do I do the same to him? Absolutely. But through it all, our goal always remains the same—to create something we're both proud of. Since the very beginning, we've never written a song without the other. We've both grown and changed a lot as individuals since our first original song in middle school, but through it all—through eight releases, 10 years of touring, ups and downs, wins and losses—we have always had each other.

And I couldn't imagine it any other way. 

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Jocelyn Arndt
Jocelyn Arndt performs with her brother Chris in the band Jocelyn & Chris.

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