Hestina Takes Their Siren Calls to New Lands


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Photo by Heather Osbourne

 

by Heather Osbourne

The soulful-folk duo Hestina, named after the Asian “Siren Butterfly,” is testing its wings and re-packing their bags after a socko northeastern tour, bidding farewell to their own chrysalis – New Orleans, the city that gave them life.

On the front porch of their shotgun home in New Orleans, Michelle Ausman and Kimberly Vice sipped from beer glasses belonging to the corner bar, as they shared a têtê-a-têtê of sorts, reminiscing on the band’s evolution and discussing their recent tour, upcoming music and relocation to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“Our first goal as a band was to move away from New Orleans so that we could really focus on our development, upcoming albums and touring,” Ausman confided. “By being closer to the areas in the northeast, we think we could really do well. It’s just what we think is best. We chose Philly because I’ve been there a few times, and I love it. It’s closer to New York where our music lawyer lives, and she is super helpful — the Jewish mother we never had. Also, my twin brother lives in Boston.”

“Yeah, it’s for the tour, our music and also because we’ve lived in New Orleans our entire lives,” Vice chimed in. “It’s just far enough away where we can come back home, and it’s in a perfect little packet of tourism and a large range of our fan base that we can engage.”

Hestina was officially formed six years after the pair became friends in high school history class. Ausman said she instantly felt strong musical chemistry that Vice, although already in the band Coffee Talk, couldn’t deny.

“We actually became friends while passing notes about a boy in class,” Ausman said with a chuckle. “Kim was already playing in a band, and I wanted to steal her from them. I just knew we were supposed to play together. I loved music, and she already had that ability. I didn’t even play an instrument, I just loved to sing. I thought, this person is the only individual I’ve ever met in my life that I could do this with.

Photo by Heather Osbourne

“For years, we would always get together and sing each other’s songs,” Ausman continued. “One year we met this girl Becca, and she told us we needed to make a band. It was so weird how it never really dawned on us until then. I mean, we wanted to do it, and we kind of were, but we never put our mind into making ourselves an official band. When she said it, we were like ‘you’re right,’ and then we did.”

The duo’s sister-like harmonies, both voices powerful and dominating, unexpectedly coalesce into a unique sound filled with minor and dissonance key changes. Ausman’s ukulele and Vice’s acoustic guitar complement their vocals, adding the folk flare.

“Our voices conjoin in such a way that feels so damn good,” Vice said. “We just keep doing it because it feels good to us. When we receive positive feedback, it lets us know that this is right. Every band can harmonize with each other, but there is this special packet that both of our voices together can fill in such a way that it’s very complimentary to both of us. I’ve harmonized with other people, but it just doesn’t feel as good.”

“Every time we sing together we just know it’s right,” Ausman agreed. “Tour was great because we got positive feedback that solidifies what we feel when we sing together.”

Under a new label with Auto Tone Records, Hestina hit the road on a 40-day tour in promotion of their latest album, “Blossom Talk.” After getting placed on a multi-million-listener playlist in Sweden, the album has become a huge hit nationally, and the duo said they dream of crossing continents to play live for their Swedish supporters.

“My goal is always trying to achieve the unachievable and looking beyond,” Vice said. “Like, right now we only do a huge tour once a year, and I’d love to end up touring all year round. Then, it would be getting huge record sales and traveling around the world and visiting our fan base abroad. I would want to just keep escalating from there.

“I feel like we had lots of great shows on tour,” Vice continued. “But our favorite was this one house show in Pittsburg. It was just so peaceful and reminded us why we’re doing this. It was just a small room filled with people who were captivated and not worried about their cell phones or yelling at a bartender over the music. We could actually hear and feel ourselves.”

Although the duo said they both love the album as a whole, they each have a favorite song they prefer to perform above the rest. As for future albums, they are set to release two more under their current record deal.

“My favorite song on our album is Deadso,” Vice said. “It’s a super challenging song for me to sing, and it’s a super challenge for Michelle to play. It’s the last song on our album and probably even the last song that Michelle wrote. It’s the song that probably speaks for how our upcoming music will sound.”

“Deadso is a song I wrote about a journey being in love with the devil,” Ausman explained. “A journey I was on with the devil by being in love with someone I knew I shouldn’t be. It’s funny how in movies the devil is usually depicted by someone who is evil and scary, but sometimes he is even sweet and gentle – kind of like in Daredevil. In the end, his darkness is his fault and major flaw. So the song is about the journey in figuring out that although you may see the goodness, it’s not who that individual really is.”

For Ausman, her favorite song on the album is “Dedicated,” one she wrote the day after she was arrested for petty theft and resisting arrest in 2013. Ausman said she was trying to deliver Mother’s Day flowers to her own mother during her little brother’s high school scrimmage game when she walked into the game anyway after gatekeepers refused to let her in because she had no cash. She said she was later tackled and harassed by police officers far beyond the necessary protocol, leading to her charges.

“It was a weird point in my life where I was trying to perceive who we were as a society, and me being a white woman going through something that so many people go through. It was an intense experience, and I wrote the song the next day. I really don’t ever do that, especially with it being such a great song. I was just moved. When I sing it, it’s the most comfortable song for me to sing and play. I just feel at home almost. It’s my safe haven.”

Although musically the duo are similar, their personalities are as antipode as they come. Vice, a behind-the-scenes gal who is a sensitive perfectionist, and Ausman, an outgoing, charismatic and motherly-type person.

“It’s crazy how we are so different, yet reliant on one another,” Ausman said. “Like, if it weren’t for Kim we wouldn’t go on tours, but if it weren’t for me, we also wouldn’t go on tours. We balance each other out.”

Southerners wanting to experience Hestina live before their relocation can visit Hestinamusic.com for dates on upcoming shows and tours.

The soulful-folk duo Hestina, named after the Asian “Siren Butterfly,” is testing its wings and re-packing their bags after a socko northeastern tour, bidding farewell to their own chrysalis – New Orleans, the city that gave them life.

On the front porch of their shotgun home in New Orleans, Michelle Ausman and Kimberly Vice sipped from beer glasses belonging to the corner bar, as they shared a têtê-a-têtê of sorts, reminiscing on the band’s evolution and discussing their recent tour, upcoming music and relocation to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“Our first goal as a band was to move away from New Orleans so that we could really focus on our development, upcoming albums and touring,” Ausman confided. “By being closer to the areas in the northeast, we think we could really do well. It’s just what we think is best. We chose Philly because I’ve been there a few times, and I love it. It’s closer to New York where our music lawyer lives, and she is super helpful — the Jewish mother we never had. Also, my twin brother lives in Boston.”

“Yeah, it’s for the tour, our music and also because we’ve lived in New Orleans our entire lives,” Vice chimed in. “It’s just far enough away where we can come back home, and it’s in a perfect little packet of tourism and a large range of our fan base that we can engage.”

Hestina was officially formed six years after the pair became friends in high school history class. Ausman said she instantly felt strong musical chemistry that Vice, although already in the band Coffee Talk, couldn’t deny.

“We actually became friends while passing notes about a boy in class,” Ausman said with a chuckle. “Kim was already playing in a band, and I wanted to steal her from them. I just knew we were supposed to play together. I loved music, and she already had that ability. I didn’t even play an instrument, I just loved to sing. I thought, this person is the only individual I’ve ever met in my life that I could do this with.

“For years, we would always get together and sing each other’s songs,” Ausman continued. “One year we met this girl Becca, and she told us we needed to make a band. It was so weird how it never really dawned on us until then. I mean, we wanted to do it, and we kind of were, but we never put our mind into making ourselves an official band. When she said it, we were like ‘you’re right,’ and then we did.”

The duo’s sister-like harmonies, both voices powerful and dominating, unexpectedly coalesce into a unique sound filled with minor and dissonance key changes. Ausman’s ukulele and Vice’s acoustic guitar complement their vocals, adding the folk flare.

Photo by Heather Osbourne

“Our voices conjoin in such a way that feels so damn good,” Vice said. “We just keep doing it because it feels good to us. When we receive positive feedback, it lets us know that this is right. Every band can harmonize with each other, but there is this special packet that both of our voices together can fill in such a way that it’s very complimentary to both of us. I’ve harmonized with other people, but it just doesn’t feel as good.”

“Every time we sing together we just know it’s right,” Ausman agreed. “Tour was great because we got positive feedback that solidifies what we feel when we sing together.”

Under a new label with Auto Tone Records, Hestina hit the road on a 40-day tour in promotion of their latest album, “Blossom Talk.” After getting placed on a multi-million-listener playlist in Sweden, the album has become a huge hit nationally, and the duo said they dream of crossing continents to play live for their Swedish supporters.

“My goal is always trying to achieve the unachievable and looking beyond,” Vice said. “Like, right now we only do a huge tour once a year, and I’d love to end up touring all year round. Then, it would be getting huge record sales and traveling around the world and visiting our fan base abroad. I would want to just keep escalating from there.

“I feel like we had lots of great shows on tour,” Vice continued. “But our favorite was this one house show in Pittsburg. It was just so peaceful and reminded us why we’re doing this. It was just a small room filled with people who were captivated and not worried about their cell phones or yelling at a bartender over the music. We could actually hear and feel ourselves.”

Although the duo said they both love the album as a whole, they each have a favorite song they prefer to perform above the rest. As for future albums, they are set to release two more under their current record deal.

“My favorite song on our album is Deadso,” Vice said. “It’s a super challenging song for me to sing, and it’s a super challenge for Michelle to play. It’s the last song on our album and probably even the last song that Michelle wrote. It’s the song that probably speaks for how our upcoming music will sound.”

“Deadso is a song I wrote about a journey being in love with the devil,” Ausman explained. “A journey I was on with the devil by being in love with someone I knew I shouldn’t be. It’s funny how in movies the devil is usually depicted by someone who is evil and scary, but sometimes he is even sweet and gentle – kind of like in Daredevil. In the end, his darkness is his fault and major flaw. So the song is about the journey in figuring out that although you may see the goodness, it’s not who that individual really is.”

For Ausman, her favorite song on the album is “Dedicated,” one she wrote the day after she was arrested for petty theft and resisting arrest in 2013. Ausman said she was trying to deliver Mother’s Day flowers to her own mother during her little brother’s high school scrimmage game when she walked into the game anyway after gatekeepers refused to let her in because she had no cash. She said she was later tackled and harassed by police officers far beyond the necessary protocol, leading to her charges.

“It was a weird point in my life where I was trying to perceive who we were as a society, and me being a white woman going through something that so many people go through. It was an intense experience, and I wrote the song the next day. I really don’t ever do that, especially with it being such a great song. I was just moved. When I sing it, it’s the most comfortable song for me to sing and play. I just feel at home almost. It’s my safe haven.”

Although musically the duo are similar, their personalities are as antipode as they come. Vice, a behind-the-scenes gal who is a sensitive perfectionist, and Ausman, an outgoing, charismatic and motherly-type person.

“It’s crazy how we are so different, yet reliant on one another,” Ausman said. “Like, if it weren’t for Kim we wouldn’t go on tours, but if it weren’t for me, we also wouldn’t go on tours. We balance each other out.”

Southerners wanting to experience Hestina live before their relocation can visit Hestinamusic.com for dates on upcoming shows and tours.

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