Entertainment·Audio

The Civil Wars discuss musical chemistry

Joy Williams and John Paul White, the indie duo known as The Civil Wars, talk to Q about meeting at a 2008 songwriting camp and how they first discovered their musical chemistry.
Joy Williams, left, and John Paul White, of musical group The Civil Wars, met at a 2008 songwriting camp and immediately clicked. (Matt Sayles/Associated Press)

Singers Joy Williams and John Paul White were the toast of the Grammy Awards in February with a performance of their song Barton Hollow.

The indie-folk duo, better known as The Civil Wars, also took home two Grammys — best folk album and best country duo —for their breakout album, also called Barton Hollow.

Although often mistaken for a romantic couple, the pair are both happily married to other partners.

Instead, they have what Williams calls "musical chemistry" despite very different backgrounds. Williams is a California girl who grew up in a religious household listening to The Carpenters, while White is an Alabama boy who listened to AC/DC and Black Sabbath.

In an interview with Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC's Q cultural affairs show, Williams says the relationship is never a power struggle.

"We sit down and we chase the muse together and we put no boundaries and no parameters on what we are creating. We just make sure we love whatever it is we end up with that day," she said.

Williams and White discussed their first meeting at a 2008 songwriting camp and how they discovered they could work together. They also performed live in the Q studio.

The pair are currently working on another album and trying to keep the group's recent success in perspective, so they can focus on creating music they really love.

"Every record I've ever loved they've made it completely selfishly and from the gut. The part that you can't control is whether people connect with it and so there's no point in trying. We love making this music and we're really excited about making more of it," White said.

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