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10 seconds of silence wash away. Parker and Marshall Mulherin’s stares break from their artist Spotify page, eyes bulged, no longer glued to a glowing laptop screen. Cheers and fist pumps ensue. At long last, the twins are back in action: They have a new song streaming everywhere for the first time since 2016. We play the track. Smiles widen. It only took trial, error, road trips and endurance to reach momentary bliss.
The Road to Release
The Tennessee transplants, both 23, left Memphis in search of opportunity. Home city limitations left their hearts set on an accelerated scene. Mounting signs of promise (Red Bull Music Academy alum status; blog coverage) attracted industry interest. The brothers headed for Hollywood and hit the road amidst a perfect storm, talent and talent scouts aligned.
When nothing materialized, they had to recalibrate and consider alternative paths. They even held on to some special songs: “All To Myself,” released this February, started collecting dust months before Trump won the presidency.
“It was pretty much all made in 2016,” Parker says.
“We were ready to drop an entire project at the start of 2017,” Marshall confirms.
When the calendar continues to flip without a release in sight, doubts take shape. To their credit, though, the Mulherins returned home. They watched friends taste success and internalized the indie grind. All things considered, impatience bred autonomy. Parker and Marshall had become shot callers. “We realized we just had to stand up and do it ourselves.” They returned to Los Angeles with more control and confidence.
Two like-minded artists, Soft Glas and Dutchboy, brought Stem to the Mulherins’ attention when they sent the twins split invites. The product’s streamlined interface caught their eye. Quick DSP delivery solidified Stem as a flexible complement to their DIY strategy.
Independence pushed them to identify problems. Longtime users of SoundCloud, they saw the danger of over-reliance on any one platform or person.
“There’s no super clear route,” Marshall tells us. “But the rule of thumb should just be to never get caught in any one bubble. We only focused on SoundCloud for a long time.”
The streaming climate remains complex, even as revenues rise and playlists gain power. Parker explains: “As beautiful as playlisting can be to help artists, the direct translation to fans is murky. You can have 300,000 monthly listeners and 800 followers on Twitter. It’s so weird that’s even possible.”
In response to the competitive, and often confusing, music landscape, Mulherin doubled down on quality.
Family & Frank
Good music won’t be a problem for two artists raised on just that. Their dad mastered the trumpet and toured. He even supervised music for film and TV. But the twins never felt pressured to follow suit.
“We took guitar lessons when we were younger,” Marshall remembers. “When we decided we didn’t really want to do it anymore, he supported that decision. But once we came back around to music in college, he said, ‘See, I told you guys!’“
Their mom, a skilled singer and guitarist in her own right, laid the foundation for her sons’ tastes.
“We were eight years old listening to Elliott Smith, Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens and Rufus Wainwright,” Parker says, smiling. “People we still listen to. She loves St. Vincent, James Blake, Frank Ocean.”
Parker and Marshall credit Ocean for making their career paths possible. Take Care and House of Balloons soundtracked gatherings in the parking lot of Memphis Central High, but it was nostalgia, ULTRA that encouraged them to consider artistry in the first place.
“At that time, or even R&B in general, it’s a lot of tenors,” Parker says. “High singing voices. Chris Brown, Miguel, The Weeknd. I remember singing ‘Songs for Women’ and thinking, ‘Oh man, this is in my range!’“
“Frank had a Coldplay song on his debut project,” Marshall adds, referencing Ocean’s “Strawberry Swing” cover. “It opened my perspective. You can really just do this whatever way you want.”
For Mulherin, “whatever way you want” translates to alternative R&B and clever pop. Their principles go beyond sonic cornerstones, however. They hope to achieve their dreams without sacrificing their moral compass. When it comes to splits, the twins keep things straightforward and simple.
“No matter what, song ownership is straight down the middle with us,” Marshall says.
“Every time,” Parker echoes.
“Sometimes, one person goes through a creative drought or vice versa. It’s like, let’s not get nitpicky—”Oh but I wrote the hook and the verses on this song, so I should get 75 percent.” Nah. We trade off, work off each other”
“Lennon and McCartney split everything down the middle, even though there are very obviously songs that Paul wrote or John handled. Still, it’s Lennon-McCartney on everything.”
“It keeps the relationship healthy. It prevents things from moving toward this weird, competitive place.”
They’ve done well to evade negative energy. No matter how you spin it, the brothers are in a better place today than they ever were before—music ready, masters owned, independence embraced. The months to come should treat them kindly.
You can hear Mulherin’s new song on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Tidal and Google Play. Powered by Stem. Dive into their In The Mix playlist below.