Producer: Karen Smyles
The quick rise of 22-year-old twin sisters Nalani & Sarina — from a small town in west-central New Jersey to national notoriety and recognition — is such an astounding story. These two audacious young artists have developed a distinctive blend of traditionalist soul-rock and modern pop, and their stylistic alchemy is likely to keep their faces in the spotlight for years to come. Legendary music critic and Sirius radio host Dave Marsh, recently called their latest EP, Scattered World, the singing duo’s latest set, “some of the best music being made in 2016”, and fans, critics and taste-makers have echoed his praise. The pop marketplace can be fickle and fractious, but Nalani & Sarina have all the elements in place for success and stardom.
Dave Marsh is hardly alone in his admiration for Nalani & Sarina. David Bianculli of NPR’s Fresh Air lauded their charisma, their musicianship, and their songwriting. The Philadelphia Daily News noted the pair’s musical flexibility and predicted great things for the act. And New Jersey’s notoriously discriminating music press has embraced Nalani & Sarina: The Aquarian, NJArts, and CentralJersey.com have all run glowing features, and the Star-Ledger / NJ.com recently named the sisters one of the top new acts in the state. They’ve earned the enthusiasm of industry insiders, too. Scattered World was produced by Julian Herzfeld and Greg Drew, long-time music business veterans. They helped assemble an experienced band to back Nalani & Sarina that includes Oscar Rodriguez of chart-toppers A Great Big World on guitar, Tommy Mandel (Bryan Adams) on keyboards, Jim Hines (Brian Wilson) on drums, and the legendary Will Lee of the David Letterman Band on bass.
Nalani plays her guitar right-handed; Sarina is a lefty. When they’re both singing and strumming, it feels like the song has come to greet the listener with arms wide open. Their captivating look is on display in the video for “Get Away”, a propulsive cut from Scattered World that recently won The Freshmen contest on mtvU, and remains in regular rotation on the channel. In the clip — and in their stage show, too — Nalani & Sarina present themselves with the swagger and confidence of established stars who know they’ve got something essential to share.
In January, Friday Arts sat down with them for an interview here at WHYY. It was easy to see why they have become so popular, so fast. Besides being very stylish and attractive, their personalities are sure to win you over. They shared what it was like growing up in a musical family and how that influenced their current musical tastes, and talked about their creative process. Later that evening, we shot one of their performances at MilkBoy in Center City Philadelphia. It was freezing outside, but you wouldn’t have known it from the way they heated up the stage and audience inside.
Behind the scenes: Nalani and Sarina
Produced by Karen Smyles, edited by Diamond Holland
Getting to know more about Nalani and Sarina, their start and love for music. They answer questions about collaborations, dream tours, and everything in between.