LUX contributing editor and model at Models 1, Charlie Newman continues her online exclusive series, interviewing her peers about their creative pursuits, passions and politics
THIS MONTH: Ukrainian twins Sonya and Anna Kupriienko have shot for the likes of Vogue, Numéro, Wonderland, Stylist, iD and Tatler, whilst storming the music industry under the guise of The Bloom Twins. Here, the twins talk to Charlie about touring with the likes of Nile Rodgers, their love of Billie Eilish and staying true to yourself.
Charlie Newman: Have you always been interested in music?
SonyaKupriienko: It might sound crazy, but music has had a place in our lives since the very beginning, and by that we mean from our Mum’s tummy! Apparently, we were taught to appreciate music from the inside, our parents would place headphones right at Mums tummy to make us curious about music even then. It was, therefore, inevitable that we started singing or copying sounds before we could talk, so even though we feel sorry for our parents hearing our music 24/7 with double power from us, it was completely their fault! We went to music school aged five where we both learnt to play piano and how to harmonise together.
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Anna Kupriienko: Even though the classical music we learnt at school was very brain awakening, there was very little emotion which was probably because we were so young. Since then we have found ourselves striving to do the opposite of what was asked of us at school. The beginning of our music career ironically started from fashion. One model scout had stopped our sister Vera on the street and asked her to come for a proper meeting to his agency. Vera brought us with her and we couldn’t believe ourselves when he said he wanted to do a photo shoot with the two of us, but sadly not with Vera. The rest is history, he posted a photo of us on Facebook, and our current managers Lenka and Juzzee commented saying these twins are so cute, to which he replied saying they also love to sing. This is how the meeting was set up, and how fashion and social media has changed our lives dramatically. We are also forever grateful to our parents, who not only encouraged our love for music, but also put it to good use.
Charlie Newman: What music did you listen to growing up?
Anna Kupriienko: We were deeply influenced by our parents’ choice of music, which consisted of mainly English bands or artists such as The Beatles, David Bowie, Duran Duran so that’s why it felt like a dream come true to move to London, and later on to also share the stage with Duran Duran themselves around the globe.
Charlie Newman: You’ve toured alongside some huge industry names including Nile Rodgers, Chic and Seal. What did you learn from this experience?
Sonya Kupriienko: We have learned to dream and not to be afraid of obstacles such as language barriers, being too young or too pretty to sing. That all goes away once you are fully committed and blinded by the passion that it becomes impossible to look the other way.
Anna Kupriienko: The obstacles seemed so small when Duran Duran treated us like equals and supported us when we needed it the most-right before going up on stage in front of tens of thousands of people. This meant, and still does mean the world to us, we will always be look up to them.
Charlie Newman: What’s been your favourite gig so far?
Sonya Kupriienko: Honestly, every gig feels incredible because they’re always so different. I can never pick the best gig. You live in the moment and that moment will be different tomorrow. The whole magic of playing live lies in the changes, whether that be the wrong note, a slightly different solo, or improvisation. In fact, the whole performance is improvisation, you follow the feeling that leads you nowhere, because it’s not a contest, but a beautiful journey that wants to keep continuing.
Anna Kupriienko: I have a tendency to always like the next gig because there are always so many things to improve, the sound or the performance. The form of Dark Pop can never stay the same, it changes every time, so we just need to water it to bloom.
Charlie Newman: What are you working on at the moment?
Sonya Kupriienko: We have a single coming out on October 11th. It’s called FF that isn’t only an abbreviation of the title ‘Free Fall’, but also stands for F**ck Fame. It might be because we are tired of proving to ourselves that we are good the way we are, or maybe because throughout our journey we’ve witnessed complete despair for success, when in our opinion we should care more about the art. In the music industry it is definitely challenging to stay true to ourselves, especially having bills to cover, but we just don’t see ourselves happy being somebody else and taking somebody else’s opportunity.
Charlie Newman: What is your creative process like?
Sonya Kupriienko: We don’t always write with just the two of us, we also like to collaborate with other artists or writers. It’s an incredible feeling to have a few people in a room working as one. When people say there’s a magic in the room, that’s what they’re talking about, the collaborative process, everybody’s creative needs are being fulfilled. It’s a collective euphoria.
Anna Kupriienko: Personally, I love to work by myself and with my sister creatively, but it’s refreshing to work with other people too. Weirdly, you learn more about yourself and your capabilities whilst working with strangers. I guess to learn how to swim you should be thrown into the ocean.
Charlie Newman: If you could collaborate with anyone in the future, who would it be?
Both: Billie Eilish!
Anna Kupriienko: It’s a rare occasion where the two of us agree on the same artist. Billie is insane, she’s so her. You know what? I’ve never heard anybody sing those kind of songs and looking that way, she’s so real.
Sonya likes RnB, whilst I like electronic and underground music. Billie has the perfect mix of all the genres we like.
Charlie Newman: What advice would you give to any young aspiring musicians or models?
Sonya Kupriienko: Be you. I know it sounds so cheesy, and you are probably thinking I should have come up with a better answer, but honestly, just be you. Let’s start with the visual aspect that most of us occasionally struggle with. Being a model isn’t easy at all, as you are being classified by the parameters/features you were born with. Even though we know self esteem might not always be supportive of being comfortable in your skin, that’s exactly what you need to do. Walking into a casting, or a job interview with confidence makes a big difference. Not only will you feel like ‘Dang, that felt great’, but also people around you will feel your confidence. Same with music, walking into a room of writers, you have to be able to relate to your song, or to stand your point, because even though it’s a collaboration, everybody should believe in it. If you are a singer and you can’t relate to it, how will the audience?
Anna Kupriienko: As David Bowie said, “Don’t try to fulfil other people’s expectations because that’s when you produce your worst work.” You have to stay true to yourself. Everyone’s life is full of ups and downs, but if you don’t love what you do you diminish the chances of the ups and elongate the downs. If you give up on who you are, you give up on everything!
Charlie Newman: Apart from Billie Eilish, who are you listening to right now?
Sonya Kupriienko:Dua Lipa has got a great vocal, she is technically equipped, and I respect that.
Anna Kupriienko: I love James Blake and Bon Iver and loads of underground artists that many people haven’t heard of. I just like to experiment with the sound, hence I like underground and that’s why I have thousands of songs in my playlist!
Charlie Newman: Lastly, who is your role model of the month?
Anna Kupriienko: For me, it’s got to be John Lennon. His music has such great value, not only because of how perfect it sounds, but also for the message it delivers, and this has helped a lot of people through their darkest times. In my opinion, the lyric has got almost childish quirkiness, but such deepness that it is hard to not feel anything. The reason why people make music is solely personal. For some it’s a way to find themselves whilst others create music to bring people closer together by drawing attention to global matters, whether that be the planet, politics or love and peace. I feel like that’s the best way to do what you love, by helping others you are simultaneously helping yourself.
Sonya Kupriienko: My role model is Greta Thunberg. She was only 15 when she first took time off school to protest outside the Swedish parliament, calling for better climate action. It must have felt so annoying considered too young to know better when it’s hard to see grown ups taking our future away from us youngsters. She has now connected with at least 4 million people (her Instagram followers) only a year later and has driven other people of all ages to do the same: save the planet.
Follow the Bloom Twins on Instagram: @bloomtwins