No Frills Twins
Don’t be fooled by the name: there’s definitely nothing basic about identical twin sisters Vanessa and Arna Rogers, aka No Frills Twins. Over the past four years, the twins have blossomed into YouTube sensations, loved as much for their unique covers and compelling voices as they are for their fearless fashions, and with the launch of new single Love Me Tender, there’s only one way for these girls to go – up.
Growing up in the northern rivers town of Lismore, 50km southeast of Byron Bay, the 22-year-old twins were first exposed to music before they had even left the womb when their musical mum played bass guitar to them while she was pregnant. “She thinks that’s what gave us good rhythm!” says Vanessa.
Their Dad was a musician too – he played guitar, drums, bass, keyboards and sang – and growing up, the girls were constantly exposed to music through their parents, who sang gospel at the local church.
“People use to come around to jam or rehearse and as twin toddlers we use to crawl around and participate by singing along or shaking maracas,” says Arna. “We were exposed to music and songwriting from a very young age because our parents were always writing songs. That’s why writing our own songs came so naturally – we thought it was a normal part of life to write and record music.”
The girls went from singing to songwriting at the age of ten, and at 13, Arna taught herself to play guitar.
But it was when the twins started doing covers that things really began to take off.
In 2012 they uploaded their first cover on YouTube – a spine-tingling version of Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars.
“It was a pretty held-back, sweet little cover, and then we evolved, with our eyebrows,” laughs Vanessa.
One look at the twins’ famous brows and you’ll know what she’s talking about. The Safe and Sound clip was the first in which the girls painted on Frida Kahlo-style brows, and from that point the eyebrows only became thicker and bolder as the twins’ confidence grew in tandem with their burgeoning profiles.
A succession of covers followed Safe and Sound including Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People and Skinny Love by Bon Iver, but it was the twins’ cover of Miley Cyrus’ We Can’t Stop that caught the attention of prominent British YouTuber Jamie Ryan Dee (then going by the name Jam Jars), who shared it with his thousands of followers on social media. Almost overnight, No Frills Twins’ YouTube views skyrocketed.
With more eyes on them than ever before, the twins continued to do their thing – that is, upload awesome covers (one of which scored them time in the recording studio with the Madden brothers), record some original songs and dazzle the world with their costumes and makeup – even Boy George endorsed their look in the God Bless The Internet clip on Twitter.
The twins, who studied fashion at TAFE and put together all of their own outfits, had always been interested in clothes and vintage shopping but it became an obsession when they faced a tough time in school.
“The fashion thing really came alive because of feeling invisible,” says Arna.
“No one ever acknowledged our music or anything at school, so we became more bold with our clothes and makeup as a way of rebelling, sort of like a big ‘stuff you’.”
Online, the girls were idolised, whereas at school they were excluded.
It’s the twins though (who hope to be able to help others through establishing an anti-bullying program) who are having the last laugh – they signed a recording deal with Universal, have supported The Veronicas on tour on the Gold Coast, and after three writing trips to Sydney, LA and London, they’re ready to release their first official single through the label – Love Me Tender.
High-energy, hook-filled pop, that marks an exciting new direction for the twins as they prepare to capture their biggest international audience yet.
“Before we started making pop music we kind of hated it, but now we really like it and have an appreciation for it,” says Arna. “We hear a catchy song and are like, ‘Damn, how did they make it so catchy?’”
It’s a skill the girls have undoubtedly picked up themselves. Far from being no frills, these tremendously talented, super-stylish twins are, to borrow from Iggy Azalea, oh so fancy. Remember their name – they’re about to blow.