Q&A with Court Yard Hounds

The country-rock sister duo is set to perform at LouFest this September.

Made up of the sisters of renowned country group Dixie Chicks, Court Yard Hounds is a band looking to dismantle the label of being “simply a side project.” The band will be performing at St. Louis’ summer-ending musical bonanza, LouFest, which will include a variety of rock shows, from the country starlets of CYH to the kings of alternative rock Wilco.

In anticipation for their performance at LouFest, MOVE talked with guitarist/vocalist Emily Robison about music fests, sisterhood singing and creating their new sound.

[MOVE]: What makes Court Yard Hounds a unique live experience?

[Emily Robison]: Other people always comment on the sister harmony, and I think there’s a telepathic nature with sisters that have worked together so long both instrumentally and vocally like us. We can almost finish each other’s musical sentences. Plus we have a killer band with us.

[M]: How do you think LouFest differs from the other music festivals you’ve done this summer?

[ER]: I have never actually been to LouFest, so I am curious to know what it is going to feel like. It’s bound to have a great energy. Being in St. Louis, it will definitely have the flavor of the city — plus it’ll be hot (laughs).

[M]: For you, as a member of band, what makes LouFest an appealing festival to play?

[ER]: I love festival situations like LouFest because it’s an opportunity to get the curiosity factor of audiences that include people who aren’t familiar with the band, but see the show. For an artist, it’s kind of a unique, fun opportunity. Our band is still in the stage, having just released our sophomore album, of proving ourselves. So if we go out there and have a great show, not only are we pleasing fans that are there to see us, but we’re also getting some new ones.

[M]: How does the chemistry of Court Yard Hounds differ from the Dixie Chicks?

[ER]: I feel like a different person now compared to when we were the Dixie Chicks. We all took on a specific role in that band and that’s what made it work. With Court Yard Hounds, we had to reinvent who we are. The change I feel is also due to age. I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I did in my 20s and 30s.

[M]: I’m sure after leaving that role in the Chicks, you felt more comfortable with experimenting with writing and performing music in your own personal ways.

[ER]: Right. When you have something successful, you say “Okay, well that works,’” and you stick to that. With the Dixie Chicks, once we found what worked, we unintentionally got molded and fell into that system. Only in hindsight do I see that now. Now, in CYH, we realize we are still figuring out what this thing is, so there is a lot more freedom in how we write our music, which is great.

[M]: Do you have a preference in the kind of songs you play live?

[ER]: To me, it has to be a mix. I love going from something that’s more pensive to something that’s ridiculously simple. It’s the mixing up of those songs that make for a fun set.

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