Indie sister duo The Sonflowerz , known for their worshipful and inspiring pop songs, have been ministering together since their own teen years.  2013 has been a busy year for the the Colorado-based sisters, Elissa Leander Tipps and Becca Leander Nicholson.  Following a successful Kickstarter campaign in July, they recorded and released the EP Love Walked In on September 10 and, on October 29th, released of Made To Shine a new 33-day devotional book created especially for girls ages 12-17.   Joe Brookhouse connected with the pair to learn more about this busy and rewarding season.

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Frequency: For folks who may not be familiar you, tell us about yourselves and how you came to be The Sonflowerz?

Becca: We grew up in a musical family, and I loved listening to my dad play guitar.  I started to be interested in music myself when I was 12.  And when our family moved across the country, I really spent most of my time learning the guitar and piano!  Elissa is two years older than me, and we’ve always been very close.  It seemed to come natural to us to partner together and write songs, eventually being asked to join the worship team for our youth group.  It was there that we started The Sonflowerz with 4 other girls from church.

Elissa: My first song was called “Use Me”, a prayer to God to use my life to reach out to a broken world. Our name definitely screams girly, but it also has deep symbolism as well. You can tell from the spelling, right?

Frequency: Ha!  Yes, the name has a little wink and a nod to it.  So how long have you been working together?  And considering that you’re siblings, how do you maintain peace in your relationship?

Elissa: It’s been nearly 14 years that Becca and I have been playing and singing together. Sounds like a long time but it’s been so much fun traveling with my sister and we have grown so much through the journey. Being sisters working so closely together, I think Grace holds us together and forgiveness is a huge element between us. We can’t hang on to small disagreements or any differences of opinion. We have a common goal and we are both driven by the same passion to love the people God brings our path. Music expresses this love.

Becca: I was only 14 when we kicked off this ministry, and I had so much to learn about worship and following Christ.  God will definitely use ministry to smooth out our rough edges.  Elissa and I are a team, and each of us brings different strengths to the table.  In order for us to lead worship together well, we have to be friends first and invest in that relationship.  That is something that has kept us going together for so long.

Frequency: In terms of songwriting, tell us about the roles you each take in the creative process.  How does that ultimately translate to the performance we hear on your recent release Love Walked In?

Becca: I tend to focus on the chords and melody, and Elissa is a lyricist.  Some songs come together in a day, and others take a while to fall into place.  It’s a great feeling when we both look at a song that is complete and ready to be recorded!

Elissa: Songwriting for us usually happens like this: I get inspired by something in life, I write, I forget about the song, Becca asks me to share a new song with her, and I pull out something from the last few months. She sees the potential in just a few lines of a song. She encourages me so much and helps me finish songs that I would’ve never finished. Becca is a brilliant writer and brings out the best.

Frequency: That sounds like a great collaborative partnership. Love Walked In was produced by Michael Rossback, who is well-known for his work with Paul Baloche and Gungor.  Tell us about your experience working with him.  How he may have challenged you (in a good way) during this recording?

Elissa: Michael stirred up fresh ideas and sounds in our music. The rhythms especially. But it wasn’t just working with Michael that influenced the new sound we have on Love Walked In. We were able to pull in our hometown band because the studio is in Colorado Springs. My husband played electric guitar, our friend Kyle played drums and Mary played cello, while family members and friends sang the gang vocals. Michael brought out the best in all of us and communicated so well. We loved working with him.

Becca: We’ve known Mike for many years, so it was a great experience working on this EP with him. Each recording stretches my ability in a new way, but one of the challenges to this project was how quickly we began in the studio after the songs were finished.  I usually like to sit with a new song for a couple months before recording it, but we dove right in a few weeks after writing them!

Frequency: In conjunction with Love Walked In, you are also releasing a 30-day devotional titled Made To Shine for tween and teen girls.   What inspired the devotional?  What do you hope the readers will take from it?

Becca: Made to Shine came about through all the girls events we do, and talking with young women.  We noticed so many girls share the same struggles.  So we began to blog about some of these issues, and eventually thought it would be a neat idea to put all these thoughts into a day-by-day devotional that’s interactive and really inspires girls to allow God to walk with them through what they’re going through.

Frequency: Why did you choose to release the album and devotional together?  Is there a common thread/theme between them?

Becca: The timing just fell into place this year, and we were so thrilled to be able to release both about a month apart.  Honestly, the book has been years in the making.  We are first-time writers, so it felt daunting to publish something.  But God was faithful to provide an amazing editor and encouragement along the way.

Frequency: What’s next for you two?  When and where can we look forward to seeing you?

Becca:  Now that the book is out, we will be doing small and large Made To Shine events for girls around the U.S.  And come up this Christmas we’re touring with 33Miles in New England.

Frequency: Where is the best place for the Frequency audience to connect with you?  Where can they find the music and the devotional?

Becca: We are checking our Facebook page every day, so we’d love for you all to join the conversation there and Twitter.  CDs and the devotional are available physically through www.Sonflowerz.com and digitally at iTunes and Amazon Kindle soon.

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