THEO AND SASHA SPIELBERG IN NEW YORK, MAY 2013.
Rarities: brothers and sisters who genuinely like to hang out together; well-adjusted children of parents who are in the movie business. The Los Angeles-based brother-sister duo of Theo and Sasha Spielberg are both of those things, but that’s not the only way they’re singular. The output of their band, Wardell, is difficult to really label, other than to call it heartbreakingly lovely. “Someone called us slacker pop,” says 23-year-old Sasha, the younger of the two. “I have no idea what that means, but I’m kind of into it.” “Might as well embrace it,” concurs Theo, 24.
The Spielbergs originally called themselves Brother/Sister before adopting Theo’s middle name, which is also the nickname of their mother, actress Kate Capshaw. Wardell released their debut EP in June, appropriately titled The Brother/Sister EP, the highlight of which is “Opossum,” a song that conjures both Mazzy Star and Marianne Faithfull. Sasha’s world-worn voice evokes not years of hard living but of loneliness. “I was in a long-distance relationship,” she says. “There’s a lot of heartache in distance, and in proximity—those ideas you have when you’re next to someone who you haven’t seen in a month.”
Distance also has a lot to do with how Wardell evolved. When Theo was in college at Yale and Sasha was in high school in L.A., they casually started sharing songs they composed individually and recorded on their laptops. They only seriously started writing together after Theo graduated in 2010, while Sasha, who attended Brown, spent a year abroad in Paris in winter 2011. “We kept sending notes back and forth,” says Theo. “Because we weren’t in the same place, the band had to exist in in-boxes and voicemails.” This resourceful collaboration developed into an ability to pull together varied influences and make them their own. “If you were only to catch two of our songs, you’d think we were inspired by Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac, Beach House, and the Band,” says Theo. “And then with some songs, there’s a TLC vibe,” adds Sasha. “We like to combine genres. Theo grew up listening to punk, and I love Christina Aguilera.”
Look for that mash-up on their first full-length album, expected in 2014. One thing you won’t hear: reports of sibling rivalry. “Some months, Sasha writes some incredible songs, and I think, Shit, I better step up my game,” says Theo. “We only have a rivalry in a healthy sense.”
ON THEO: T-SHIRT: CHAPEL NYC FOUNDED BY PATRICK MATAMOROS. JEANS: ACNE STUDIO. NECKLACEL ODIN. BRACELETS: STYLIST’S OWN AND LOVE, ADORNED. ON SASHA: T-SHIRT: VINTAGE. SKIRT: TOPSHOP UNIQUE. STOCKINGS: FALKE. COSMETICS: CK ONE COLOR COSMETICS, INCLUDING 3-IN-1 FACE MAKE UP, MASCARA IN SHOW, AND GLOSS EYECOLOR IN ULTRA. HAIR PRODUCTS: TONI&GUY HAIR MEET WARDROBE. HAIR: MARK HAMPTON FOR TONI&GUY HAIR MEET WARDROBE/JULIAN WATSON AGENCY. MAKEUP: KRISTI MATAMOROS FOR CK ONE COLOR COSMETICS/KATE RYAN INC. SPECIAL THANKS: FAST ASHLEYS.