Sister Act: Brooklyn Indie Folk Rockers The Rayes Talk New EP ‘Two Legs’, Social Activism In Music, Their Podcast, & More

Seattle-born sisters Rebecca and Jordan Stobbe have teamed up to bring a fresh-faced positive energy to the world of folk-rock in the form of their band The Rayes and their latest EP Two Legs.

Since starting out as high-schoolers practicing on the humble stages of sidewalks and grassy patches, the sisters have since incorporated close friends that have rotated in and out as members. Currently, Ian LeSage provides additional guitar and vocals while Patrick Hagan contributes on the drums — though they all participate in the songwriting process.

When they made the coast-to-coast jump from Seattle to New York in early 2020, they were excited and optimistic for the year ahead. The title track, “Two Legs,” was written then, and as they stated in an Instagram post promoting the song, “when we were all still romanticizing and had such high hopes for what was ahead. We felt stronger than ever, we felt renewed. We felt twinges of that youthful optimism we’re constantly trying to hold on to.” The single embodies those emotions with its bubbly instrumental and reassuring lyrics.

This high-energy, encouraging track can easily become your new anthem for gratitude and positivity, as it appreciates the health of your friendships and yourself, limb by limb. It’s nearly impossible to be in a bad mood while listening to the song, considering how uplifting and lively it is, making it perfect to put on when you’re feeling down. And (preferably) if you’re already feeling good, it will only continue to boost your mood and give you something to smile about while dancing along to.

The Stobbe sisters channel this same positivity outside of music. They have been using their platform as artists to bring awareness to social inequality and other pressing issues. On their website, they have a link to direct viewers to donate to the Black Lives Matter movement, and they were part of the greater good in using their social platforms in encouraging followers to vote in the November election. Their heavy inspiration from 60s/70s rock is even more fitting considering the political motivation behind much of the music from that era, and is mirrored in their own modern involvement.

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The sisters discussed with us the importance of their activism, their new podcast, a little backstory behind Two Legs, and more.

As sisters growing up, did one of you influence the other musically, or was it more of a mutual progression?

Great question! Well both of us have always been very musical. We were both obsessed with singing growing up, and always in choir and jazz choir in school. But we only first picked up a guitar in high school. Rebecca got a guitar for her birthday one year, and started taking lessons, and I became interested in learning guitar after that too (maybe a little jealous, haha). So my best friend Gracia and I finagled our way into taking a few lessons with Rebecca, and everything surrounding the formation of our band just grew from there.

What was your experience like as buskers in Seattle, and at what point did you know you wanted to pursue a career in music?

The streets were like a second rehearsal space for us when we first started writing original songs. It was the first “stage” we played, before we were even ready for a real stage! We were still in high school when we started busking, and had only been playing guitar for maybe a year at most — probably only knew five chords, and had NO idea what we were doing. We used to sit on a picnic blanket because we were shy and didn’t know how to stand and play the guitar yet. Very fond memories, but also a bit cringe-worthy when we look back on those times now! Haha. But truly, those were the experiences that solidified our love for songwriting and performance, and we attribute those times to what ignited our passion and desire to pursue music more seriously.

What prompted the move from Seattle to New York, and what made you choose New York over other big music market cities?

Seattle is a wonderful music city as we all know, but it is quite frankly a pretty exclusive scene that promotes a pretty niche genre. At the time, our band make-up had been shifting, and we’d also played just about every small and mid-sized venue in Seattle, but were still struggling to break into the scene in other areas. Rebecca and I have family in the New York/New Jersey area, and had always wanted to try living there someday. So we thought it seemed the perfect time to try a new, and bigger scene!

How does the songwriting process work between the two of you, and do your additional bandmates take part in that as well?

Most of the time, one of us will have an idea, or a melody in mind and start the song, usually at least a verse and chorus, or general structure, and then the other will help finish, or fine-tune it. But our other bandmates are ABSOLUTELY involved too!! We’ve never liked how being labeled a “duo” gives the impression that there are just two of us. Our other band members (past and present) are literally our best friends, and always play a huge role in the crafting of our songs. Our other bandmates will usually write their own instrumental parts, (unless we have something already in mind), and will voice their own ideas for additional parts that often bring the songs to new dimensions.

So you recently released your new EP, Two Legs. What is the overall influence or inspiration behind this trio of songs? 

The theme behind Two Legs largely surrounds longing, and yearning — for a place, or a lover, or peace and justice. After moving to New York, it seemed almost every song I wrote was about home and the sea. Whether it be finding a home within myself, or my literal home in the Pacific Northwest. I was also quite lonely during the writing of this EP, and yearning for connection. Social causes also always play a huge part in the inspiration behind our songwriting, so this holds yet another type of yearning — for change, and for peace. All revolving around this idea of finding a ‘home.’

And how about the lead single and title track of the EP- what prompted the writing of this song?

This is the song about a yearning for connection, and closeness. The most genuine, and pure. Like that of a young love — carefree. I feel like I am constantly searching for this wherever I go, and when I wrote this song I was in a brief period of my life where I felt I was on the brink of finding this again, and I was seeing someone that was bringing fleeting moments of this carefree joy into my life again.

Where did y’all record and produce the EP?

We had been discussing beginning to record this new EP right before the pandemic hit, so when we went into lockdown in March, we realized we were either going to have to postpone the recording, or do it on our own. So we spent most of the spring learning how to use audio recording software, and tracking guitar and vocals at home. Our guitarist sent us his tracks, and our drummer was able to book a day alone in the studio to track his drum parts. We then sent the tracks off to our producer and mixing engineer, Tyler Postiglione, who tracked some keys and mixed the songs remotely. So it was a bit of a conglomeration, and not really our ideal way of recording (we usually like to do as much as we can live, with the whole band), but it was a great learning experience!

So I was hoping you could tell us about your podcast, Roadie With The Rayes, and why you decided to start it.

Yes! Roadie with The Rayes was a wild, spontaneous idea that we somehow pulled off — and it turned out to be one of the most incredible, and rewarding experiences. With the pandemic, we had lost our day jobs, live performance, and the ability to record in the way we wished to, so we were aching for another creative outlet, and a new way to connect with others.

We had gone back to Seattle in May to quarantine with family for a while, and when we began to make plans to head back to the East Coast, the idea of a cross-country road trip came up (something we’d always wanted to do). And we had also toyed with the idea of making a podcast for a long time, so we thought, why not do both?! So we planned a podcast surrounding music stories across the U.S., based in different locations that we would travel through on our way back to New York. We thought it would be a great way to give our friends and followers a connective experience, and hopefully help them feel like they were on the road with us as well. So we rented a camper van, and headed out across the country for two weeks in August (all COVID precautions in mind). We traveled from Seattle, down the coast to California, and then cut across through Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Alabama, and then up through Tennessee and others back to New York City.

It is admirable how your band is very supportive of current social causes. How important do you think it is for artists to use their platform to discuss such issues?

Social causes have always been the flame behind much of our songwriting. Like most musicians I think, our songwriting is inspired by the things that bring up intense feelings, and social issues are one of those things for us. I think a big reason we are so passionate about social issues though is because many of our biggest music inspirations from the 60’s and 70’s were so instrumental in leading the social movements of the time. Having a large platform and following gives immense power, and with any power, I think it’s imperative that that be used for good, and for giving a voice to those who don’t have one so impactful.

Besides making music, how else might you like to bond as sisters?

Well we’ve lived together practically our whole lives. We almost immediately became roommates after moving out of our parents’ place after high school. So you might say we like each other’s company, in general. Haha. We are very like-minded, and enjoy most all of the same activities, like being in the outdoors, hiking, kayaking, going out with friends, or (unashamedly) binging The Bachelor together. 

What might fans expect from The Rayes in 2021?

A full-length album! We’re hard at work finalizing our songs, and hope to get into the studio in the next few months. We are really excited about this record. We’ve grown and evolved so much in the past year, and can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on!

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