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Mona Lisa Twins

Mona Lisa Twins Mona and Lisa Wagner are twins who grew up in Austria but are now based in Liverpool in England where they are prepared to take the world by storm with their exceptional music, bare to the bone musical ability and a stage presence that'll wind you right up.

Their father is a musician/song-writer. During the 1980s and 90s, he was running a recording studio producing both renowned international artists, including a Grammy winner and Austrian musicians.

Along with him and their stepmother they concentrated on the girls music and over the years built up a full-time family business.

Mona and Lisa started out with cover songs that they shot on video and uploaded onto YouTube - later they released two CDs with covers in 2007 and 2008.

At 16 years of age they decided to go for a professional music career and began to record their debut album named When We're Together, which received extremely positive reviews in known blogs and magazines.

In comparison, their second album ORANGE gives a more mature, sometimes satirical, yet overall still light-hearted approach to topics we all are familiar with - love, community, doubt, the past and future, and the generally unsettling direction society seems to be taking.

While staying true to quirky, melodic 1960s song-writing, plenty of harmonies and twangy guitar licks, this album branches out into more psychedelic but also earthy, bluesy, even jazzy tones for a very experimental, tongue-in-cheek side of the Mona Lisa Twins.

Ever since then the twins have done live shows all over Europe and produced numerous high quality music videos for all of their originals as well as for their 1960's covers.

Their favorite band, The Beatles made for the bulk of the covers as well as covers of Doors, Beach Boys, Lovin' Spoonful, Everly Brothers and others from that era.

Mona Lisa TwinsThese videos have pulled over 3 million views with excellent rankings for their genre with thousands of subscribers on YouTube and followers on Facebook.

Their album MonaLisa Twins - Play Beatles & More - a fan-requested compilation of first-class live and studio cover recordings was released on March 28th, 2014.

Many influential musicians and music industry people involved in recording and performing in the 60s era have reacted highly positively and written positive reviews about the twins, their covers as well as the girls own material.

They had released their first album, which was a family effort at the tender age of 13. Titled Live In Concert 2007, was a recording on which Lisa's guitar and Mona's drums were accompanied by their parents.

Their father, Rudolph Wagner was on bass and their stepmother, Michaela on saxophone and percussion. It was an album whch explored music from various eras, but Beatles & More collects live and studio recordings of 1960's rock and roll standards - including seven Beatles songs.

Their approach to interpreting these classic tunes focuses on staying true to the emotional core of the original versions while subtly applying their own style.

Highlights include delicate acoustic guitar work on The Beatles' In My Life and a lengthy version of The Doors' People Are Strange that allows their band members, Michael Mozeth on bass and Phillip Wolf on drums, to showcase their own talents.

Not only are their vocals very impressive, but their musical talent on their instruments is exceptional.

Mona Lisa TwinsWhile in Europe things started changing for them for the better.

Originally they started off by doing a tour of Ireland for which they planned a stay of only three weeks, but their publicist, Tim Quinn, called and said he had some really good things going on in Liverpool that he wanted them to do.

Afterwards they'd been on BBC radio, played some gigs at schools and played at the Empire Theatre. So many things were going on at the same time that they didn't really know were going to happen only a few weeks earlier. It all happened really, really fast.

Their fans kept asking them where they could purchase all the songs that were on YouTube. But it's very difficult to put music on established internet musical venues if you haven't recorded it on an album. So that was one of the reasons Mona and Lisa decided to collect them in one place on a recording.

This all started when they began learning instruments when they were only six or seven years of age. Then they really got into it when they were 11 or 12. Their first proper concert, where they played with the whole family, was in 2007.

"It was kind of like a time travel through the history of music, so we started off in the 1950s and played songs from each era up to 2007. That was also the time when we discovered that 1960s music was what we enjoyed most..."

"We had started off as a kind of family band, actually, but that was only for two concerts. We've never been onstage together since then - except for when our dad still plays the bass in the studio when we record..."

It was 2011 when these two talented women began writing their own songs. The following year was when they started playing live venues - it was when they really learned how to be on stage and perform. Learning to express a solid stage presence took them two years, but it was time well spent.

Mona Lisa TwinsThey had written a couple of songs quite early on. When they had initially started writing songs, they really didn't like them and thought maybe they needed to improve their English. So, off they went to Australia for six months and when they came back they started to write quite a lot.

At the core what still influences them is mainly the 1960s music. Even though they like some artists like John Mayer and The Moons - "the new artists don't really influence us that much - we just like listening to them."

Lisa stated that the variety within that 1960s period of time is so unique. When you think about the early 1960s and then onto the late 1960s, there is so much development within that ten year period. There are so many unique things you can draw from.

Their guitars are 1960s guitars like Gretch, Fender and Rickenbacker, but they add that they use modern recording techniques. But the old Gretch's, Fenders and Rickenbackers are extremly fine guitars that lend authenticity to their performances.

They have their own label - called Woolgoose Records. They prefer to try to stay as independent as possible. They try to find ways to work around the music business as it is today.

"We have YouTube, the internet and feel we can do without the record label guys."

While music has evolved over time, the 1960s look and sound was the underlying influence towards much of the new artists following the 1960s until the era of disco and rap music started to take pop music through another transition.

But no matter how popular the new sounds were with young audiences, there seemed to be a longing to hear those original sounds again - and that longing led to a new explosion of rock which started with 1960s tribute bands.

Many other types of music continue to enjoy a vast audience, there seems to be a never ending love for the old garage band formats of electric and acoustic guitars with drums and bass making up their foundation.

Mona Lisa TwinsEven though the Mona Lisa Twins are originally from Austria, they moved to Liverpool in 2014 to reignite music with an emphasis on rhythm and lead with a strong backbeat from bass and drums. The Mona Lisa Twins are very unique in the current music landscape but bear a welcoming resemblance to the sounds of perhaps the most influential decade of music - the 1960s.

In their latest album called ORANGE they ventured out into unknown territory. They had a strong vision as to what the overall listening experience should be like and the kind of emotions they would want their audience to feel.

They knew that in order to serve the songs best, in many cases they'd have to add more than the 'two-guitars, drums, and bass' arrangement of their debut album to the mix.

There was a powerful beauty in keeping it simple back then when they were 16 years of age, but for this release some of the songs were begging for more complex instrumentation: strings, piano, banjo, some brass and loads of quirky little details. From minimalistic to big orchestra sounds – whatever it takes to tell the story best.

"While we were very aware not to repeat ourselves from our debut album, we also took care not to break what we are about. Melodic songwriting, bright guitars, and lots of harmonies will always be a big part of what we do.

And, hopefully, lyrics that speak to the orange side of you. About life, love, the ups and downs, and how important it is to not take oneself too seriously."

"Many years ago, when we first moved to the UK, someone we used to work with sent John Sebastian a few of our videos. We were hoping for a press quote or just some positive reply but back came the words: 'They're fabulous, sure as you're born! I would seriously enjoy playing on their next project'..."

Mona Lisa TwinsMost people know John Sebastian for fronting and writing hit songs for the Lovin' Spoonful (Summer in the City, Do You believe In Magic, and others). In addition, he is also a phenomenal blues harp player and has played on records with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Doors, Gordon Lightfoot, and many others from the 1960s.

"Obviously we were over the moon to hear from such a musical hero of ours. So, two years later, when we were starting to write for ORANGE, two songs just begged for some harmonica playing. Instead of doing it ourselves, we decided to take him up on his offer."

"He was all up for it and recorded the tracks at his local studio in Woodstock which he then sent over to us. A few months later, we even got him to fly over to the UK, so he could feature as the mysterious stranger at the bar in the official music video for the single - having him play on ORANGE was a dream come true!"

"Besides having John Sebastian on blues harp, everything else was played and recorded by the two of us or our dad Rudi. It always turns out that way. We usually enter the recording process thinking we'll be asking other instrumental specialists to play on it, but when we're in the middle of a session we always get super excited and ambitious."

"Every time we started working on demo tracks for other players - string parts for example - we would get so into it that we decided that we might as well do them ourselves. That's how Lisa got into playing cello - which isn't something she did much before."

"Our dad is a great bassist and pianist, we both play guitar and I play the drums. We all took care to expand our skills over the years to have all the basic instruments covered so that it is much faster and less expensive to produce a record."

Mona Lisa Twins"We are incredibly lucky to have a recording studio in our own home. Our dad used to run a very successful studio back in Austria."

"When we all moved to the UK in 2014, he took the equipment with him and rebuilt it in our new place here. We use it exclusively for our own projects now and couldn't think of a more perfect set up."

"Our dad also co-writes, produces and arranges all of our music, and to be able to just go downstairs at 3am on a Tuesday night to record a new idea or some guitar lines is a real luxury and a musician's phantasy come true."

"We both started playing musical instruments when we were 11 years old - Mona took drum lessons in high school and I took guitar. Only a year later we started going to each other's lessons and were learning both instruments."

"When we stopped school at the age of 15, we kept on teaching ourselves by studying our favourite songs and musicians."

"Bless YouTube and their online tutorials. I have always been the lead guitarist and Mona, with her drumming background, mainly plays rhythm. We both have our strengths and have learned to play off each other when we're performing."

"Over the years we've picked up a few more instruments - I can also play the ukulele and a little bit of cello. Mona still records all drum and percussion parts and plays blues harp. We even have a cross flute at home that is still waiting to get discovered."

Mona Lisa Twins
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Drive My Car - The Beatles


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