Connor Hormell on Vocals and Guitar
Karlee Hormell on Vocals and Keyboard
Nick Foster on Bass Guitar
Ben Simmons on Electric Guitar
Brian Simmons on Drums
At first glance, you would never guess that twenty-somethings brother and sister Connor and Karlee Hormell have been making music for two decades. On stage, these young vets embrace melancholy and wanderlust with their brand of folk-Americana and alt-Country, inspired by a childhood of listening to Glen Campbell, Jim Croce, James Taylor, and Carole King.
Offstage, they are typical young siblings – goofy and never missing the opportunity to rib one another. Their close bond is undeniable. It’s no wonder that they choose to harmonize with each other on a professional level.
Both lend their voices to me&you. Karlee takes on the keyboards and Connor strums the guitar and plays the harmonica. Off the stage, Karlee manages the band’s marketing and bookings, while Connor handles the music production side of things.
“It’s a curse and blessing working with him,” laughs Karlee. “We are very comfortable writing together and telling each other how we really feel. Unfortunately, telling each other how we really feel can be a bad thing — there’s no filter. The thing we fight about the most is music…we really push each other to be the best versions of ourselves, as musicians, as humans. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve recognized that we have to keep criticisms professional.”
“Being siblings adds pressure. We can’t break up because we’ll see each other at Christmas,” jokes Connor.
After experiencing a fair share of identity crises – from a boy band to forming two local “pop princess” bands in elementary and high school — Rock on Fire and Connor & Karlee — the siblings discovered their authentic selves in a campervan filled with booze and chocolate in New Zealand. Yes, really.
After a music hiatus and a devastating breakup, Connor joined Karlee while she was studying abroad: “It was a period of openness and transition for the both of us. We hadn’t sung or written with each other for months, so it was the perfect time to reconnect. Stuff just needed to come out of us,” recalls Connor.
For one month, the two jammed, and jammed, and jammed across the country’s North and South islands. The songs touched on nature, relationships, and raw emotions.
“The trip taught us to get out of our own heads, eliminate the pressures, and follow the trail that’s been laid out for us. Being so removed from the music industry and performing was refreshing, frustrating, and absolutely necessary,” says Karlee.
Along with a list of new songs and a new sound, the trip ultimately reaffirmed their creative purpose — to make music together as a team under me&you.
“This new chapter of music serves as a reminder to always remember where we come from. It’s important to us that our audience feels like they’re on the same and equal playing field as us. Even though we’re on stage, we’re just two kids with a dream, we’re still just me and you,” explains Karlee.
Songs from the trip were finessed and ultimately included in their 2018 Chasing Trails EP.
Performing at this year’s Farm-to-Fork Festival is set to be a highlight for a very creative summer for the two. After years of attending the festival, the two will grace Friday night’s stage as the opening act for British singer/songwriter Barns Courtney.
“We’re super excited. [The concept] of farm-to-fork and sustainability is really near and dear to our hearts. We garden, shop locally, go to farmers’ markets, and try our best to live with intention. It’s what we kinda want to promote as a band — to bring people back to basics,” says Karlee.
[Fun Fact: During the band’s EP Kickstarter campaign, for every $500 received, the band cleaned up a beach or local trail.]
The festival will be their largest stage to date with the full band: “A lot of people have only seen us as a duo. [We think the crowd] will be surprised by what they hear. How we perform as a band is vastly different than our acoustic sets,” says Connor.
Karlee adds, “the best thing about adding the band component is how it strengthens our motivation and dedication to our craft. They help bring out the best of our musical abilities.”
During their festival set, they hope the crowd with will forget about their problems and come together through music.
The band hopes that Farm-to-Fork Month will be fruitful in other ways, too: me&you hopes to debut a new release and kick off a tour, fingers crossed.
“We’re really focused on recording at the moment, working in the studio any chance we get. It’s been pretty fun to hunker down and see what we create together,” explains Connor.
While me&you tour up and down the West Coast, Sacramento is their creative home base. me&you gave us a rundown of their favorite and most meaningful local music venues:
Ace of Spades and Memorial Auditorium: “For music lovers, it’s a great time to experience live music in Sacramento. These are great places to catch bigger touring acts,” says Connor. “We’ve seen a lot of our favorites [performers] like Matt Nathanson, Andrew McMahon, and Walk the Moon there.”
Concerts in the Park at Cesar Chavez Plaza: While me&you technically haven’t performed here yet (wait until June 28), they see the upcoming show as a rite of passage for any Sacramento-area musician.
Harlow’s Restaurant and Nightclub: “We’ve held (Connor & Karlee) record release parties and supported other artists there. It’s definitely a space where we’ve cut our teeth,” says Connor.
Shine Café and Naked Lounge: Karlee fondly recalls playing in front of friends and family at these smaller, intimate locations.
“These spots are where we really learned how to play live in front of an audience. We developed our stage presence here and learned how to engage with our crowd between songs. We grew and evolved as artists here.” [Note: Naked Lounge no longer has a performance space.]
However, they note experiencing high caliber local talent isn’t confined to the walls of traditional venues — “Sacramento’s music scene is very creative and DIY. A lot of artists are taking venues out of the picture and doing their own shows at secret locations and homes,” says Karlee.
For example, the emergence of platforms like Sofar Sounds, a site that organizes intimate shows, has introduced the band to new music lovers and to musicians they’ve only known through Instagram. [Note: me&you have performed at many Sofar Sounds shows in LA, Sacramento, and San Francisco.]
While they are pleased with the direction of Sacramento’s thriving and diverse local music scene (“you can make a living playing music in Sacramento”), they see room for improvement.
“We’d love for there to be networking nights where artists can connect with each other outside of a show,” says Karlee. “There are so many artists here and it would be great to facilitate ways to collaborate.”
They also recognize that while club-level venues have vastly improved, the stock of spaces where emerging artists can perform are becoming few and far between. “Losing Naked Lounge’s performance stage was a tough loss. It was a space that really took a chance on new musicians and gave them a space to test their chops,” she adds.
For Your Information
We couldn’t leave these fun interview facts on the cutting room floor.
- When they are not writing, producing, or performing, you’re likely to find them exploring their muse, Mother Nature. The siblings share a love of mountain biking, camping, and backpacking. When they feel like sticking to the streets of Sacramento, they like to discover what’s new in the food and beer scene. Connor’s Picks: Rock climbing at the Granite Arch Rock Climbing Center
Karlee’s Picks: Trail running in Ancil Hoffman Park, shopping at farmers markets (Carmichael and Sunday’s 8th and W markets especially), and thrifting.
- Their father, Fred Hormell worked at the Sacramento Radio Group while the two grew up, giving them a taste of the music industry. “He took us to shows and gave us opportunities to meet our idols,” remembers Connor.
- Working with a relative seems to be a thing with me&you. Supporting bandmates Brian and Ben Simmons are brothers.
- That does impress me much. In 2003, Connor performed in a drumming circle at a Shania Twain concert.
- Connor on songwriting: “I love the idea of crafting a song that’s really personal and have it have a special meaning to someone else. That person may have a completely different interpretation of the lyrics, but that’s how you know your words are connecting. That’s when you know you’re doing it right.”
- Karlee wrote her first song at age 10 after the death of a classmate: “At an early age, my brother and I learned how fragile life [and]…to spend time doing what you love with who you love.”
- Dream big. Karlee and Connor would love to ultimately take on the Memorial Auditorium and Golden 1 Center.
- Over the years (and over their many band iterations), the siblings have opened for Barns Courtney, Kris Allen, Crystal Bowersox, Robert Ellis, Tyrone Wells, Jon Foreman, Bastille, and Blue October. me&you have also toured with John Paul White and Devin Dawson.
Keep Up with me&you
Upcoming Gigs and Performances
June 28: Concerts in the Park
July 12: California State Fair
July 30: Support for Grizfolk and Laura Jean Anderson at Holy Diver
September 27: Farm-to-Fork Festival Opening Night