20 Questions is a Q&A interview series with musicians, authors, and everyone in between, celebrating experiences both shared and individual in the messy game of being human.
At just 20, 19, and 17 years old, Australian sibling trio The Buckleys are already wise beyond their years with their bold artistic statements. Composed of Sarah, Lachlan, and Molly, the self-described “hippie country” group have been performing together since they were in single digits—and now the time has come for the world to hear Daydream, their debut studio album out everywhere now. With a melding of pop, country, Americana, and indie rock, it’s a record filled with all the sun, sparkle and wide-eyed excitement that these young singer/songwriters embrace with open arms. “Music is so powerful, and making people happy and making memories is definitely a place that we want to be,” says Sarah.
While the band cuddles its roots in Australia’s Byron Bay, Daydream has its origins in the Honkytonk Capital: Nashville, Tennessee. The “hippie country” term sums up the similarities of The Buckleys’ two spiritual homes, where they evolved as musicians and songwriters. Both cities have strong music communities, legendary festivals, a countercultural vibe, and a spiritual and mystical sense. Getting to Nashville was on their minds even when they started busking and winning competitions on the streets of Australia’s music capital, Tamworth, during a family holiday in 2011. While Sarah had started making a name for herself as a songwriter in Nashville, collecting up to 100 songs and receiving a Top 5 nomination in the 2014 American Songwriting Awards, the trio later signed with CM Murphy’s Petrol Records in 2019 and got to work with two-time Grammy winner Chad Carlson on their first album, whose other credits include Taylor Swift, Jewel, Lady A, and Trisha Yearwood.
I had such a fun time speaking with The Buckleys for a new edition of 20 Questions. They told me all about growing up in a musical family, their favorite type of song to write, the best advice they’ve ever received, what really inspired their first record, and so much more. Better yet, Molly told me why Debbie Harry is the ultimate confidence boost, and Lachlan let me in on why Finding Nemo makes him cry. Rock on and read on!
When did you guys decide to form a band? Did you grow up in a musical household?
MOLLY: We did grow up in a musical household, our parents love music and Dad was a musician himself, so we grew up going to a lot of live gigs which introduced us to that world. We gained so much respect and curiosity for it. Instruments were always at every corner of the house, so it was a very natural progression for us to just pick them up and start playing together. We kind of officially formed “The Buckleys” back in 2011. We were busking at Tamworth Country Music Festival (I’m pretty sure we needed to get petrol money home), and we got a call the next day saying we’re top 10 in the busking finalists competition… We had no idea what they were talking about, because we had no idea that competition even existed! We were invited to play a few songs on the main stage and at that point it was the biggest stage we had ever played on and the biggest crowd we had played to. That’s when we really caught the music bug.
As a group, who are you most inspired by?
MOLLY: We are inspired by so many things in the world individually and as a group. We’re inspired by the things that happen around us, our experiences and music. As a group, we’re constantly evolving and trying to absorb everything so that what you’re getting when you listen to us play is as authentic as possible.
What’s your favorite type of song to write?
LACHLAN: Honestly, I’m not too sure on which style of song is my favorite to write. I could be immensely loving country songs, rock n’ roll, pop or blues. However, I do find it very enjoyable to write super heavy funk songs. I think that style has a way of forcing your inner funk beast to come out. One of the songs on this album I wrote is a boogie song and I really love writing to that heavy groove and beat!
What would you say is the general theme of your music?
SARAH: I would say freedom is a general theme that runs through our music, especially this album. Musically, freedom is something really important for us to be authentic and free with what we’re creating. Experimenting, pushing boundaries and really creating what we’re feeling in the moment as accurately as we can. Lyrically, songs like “Breathe” and “Woodstock69” express this feeling particularly on the album. Not only as artists but as people, we’re made up of so many different things and inspiration comes in so many different forms. We were really lucky to be able to explore all the different sides to us as musicians and songwriters and just go for it! This record really captures who we are right now as a band who is constantly evolving.
Out of all the songs you’ve released so far, which one is your favorite?
LACHLAN: “Money” would have to be my favorite song we’ve released so far. The fun energy and surf rock/country pop vibes make it an epic song to play live and recording it in Nashville was also super fun especially in this particular song because we were all just jamming out and not thinking, only playing what immediately came to our head.
How would you characterize your debut studio album Daydream?
SARAH: It’s all the flavors, colors, spices and inspiration that makes us who we are—The Buckleys. Chapter One in an ever-evolving band who lives and breathes music!
The last series you binge-watched?
SARAH: I used to be obsessed with the hit ‘90s show Charmed, and I recently rewatched it all. I love it! Three badass sister witches fighting demons—it’s iconic!
Favorite books of all-time?
LACHLAN: Some of my favorite books of all-time would have to be The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Mick Wall’s Two Riders Were Approaching: The Life & Death of Jimi Hendrix. The Lord of the Rings is an incredibly creative fantasy story—the descriptive language and extraordinary creativity that J.R.R. Tolkien writes is something that has definitely influenced me as a songwriter and just my life in general! Two Riders Were Approaching is also a great book as it gives an interesting insight into the life story of Jimi Hendrix. His songwriting, guitar playing, live performances and creativity are all things that have inspired/influenced me as a musician.
Favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
MOLLY: Sit in my room and write a sappy song. Haha!
“Breathe” is one of my favorite songs of yours, especially since it captures the highs and lows of our current age of anxiety. What inspired the songwriting process for that track?
SARAH: I originally wrote this song during the time when the Australian bushfires were happening, but what I love about “Breathe” is how it relates to so many different parts of life and everyone who hears it connects their own story to it. As a songwriter, that’s so important to me. When I’m stressed or worried, I find myself remembering its lyrics and to “just breathe.” I hope it helps others to do the same.
Who are your style icons and why?
MOLLY: Oooh! I love pulling inspiration from many different people… Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury (yes, these are all men, but man do they have amazing taste!) Debbie Harry is ICONIC and I love looking back on all her kickass outfits. Let me tell you, if you ever need a confidence boost, go to Debbie Harry or Joan Jett because these women OWNED it! There are SO many more and I could go on forever, but those are just a few.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
SARAH: Our dad, being a musician, has experienced a lot of the things we’re going through now—all the highs and the lows. Something he’s said ever since we started playing music and just in general is to enjoy the journey and be happy exactly where you are right now in this moment—and if you’re not, change it. Not relying on something to happen or to “reach that goal” or “get that thing.” To be happy right here right now, otherwise you’ll always be chasing something! I’d say that’s some really important advice that has helped us.
One movie that will always make you cry?
LACHLAN: Call me immature, but Finding Nemo is a movie that really pulls the heartstrings. I would say that I mainly cry from laughter in this one. However, when Nemo is reunited with his father, I can’t help but almost cry.
You’re stuck on a long flight. Which world-famous musician would you want sitting next to you and why?
SARAH: I would love to sit next to Willie Nelson. What a legend. So many stories and just to hear about his life would be incredible. I got to see him live at the CMA Awards last year and just his presence gave me goosebumps!
Tea or coffee?
LACHLAN: When it comes to these two, I would say tea is much better in the long term. However, coffee is definitely my baby… unless I drink too much of it.
The best song you’ve heard in the last year?
MOLLY: Oh no, don’t do this to me… There’s been so much great music released this year that I couldn’t choose just one. However, one I can tell you I’ve had stuck in my head and been singing the most recently would be “Pretty Baby” by Blondie. ICONIC.
You describe yourselves as a “hippie country” group. Which genre of music would you say your first album falls into?
MOLLY: For us, hippie country has so many avenues whilst keeping a foundation in country music, which is what we love about it. This Daydream album is so special to us because it embraces everything The Buckleys are in this moment. At the end of the day, we’re just creating music we love and it’s up to the listener to decide how they interpret our music, which is a really fun place to be—and it means we can be authentic, which is most important, rather than trying to chase or be one particular thing. We are just so excited for it to be out and in the world!
One thing that’s been keeping you sane throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?
SARAH: Exercise and jumping in our cold pool or cold showers! Crazy as it sounds, jumping in cold water gives me such a boost and is so good for the human body. I always feel re-energized afterwards and ready to take on the world!
One artist you would like to collaborate with one day?
LACHLAN: One collaboration I dream of doing one day would be with Miley Cyrus. Her new style/sound has really struck a chord with me in the last year and recently, her passion for music and energy is something I feel would be totally radical to collaborate with, even if it’s just playing guitar with her in any possible way.
In a perfect world, where would you like to see yourselves five years from now?
SARAH: We want to be writing and recording great music, travelling, playing shows all around the world, and connecting with people through our music. To be able to share our music and for people to listen is a truly amazing thing we don’t take for granted.