Band Ley Line talks multilingual music, sisterhood

Fiza Kuzhiyil

In front of an ethereal galaxy backdrop of the Black Fret showcase stage, the four members of Ley Line embrace in a huddle as they do before every show.

“This is this four-piece sisterhood, and (we) share that love that we have for each other with our audience,” band member Lydia Froncek said.

Austin-based multilingual folk band Ley Line performed at the South by Southwest Music Festival on Wednesday, March 17. The members of Ley Line, half of them UT alumni, shared how their band used Latin influences to create their unique sound.

Kate Robberson said she graduated from UT in 2009 with a degree in studio arts, and her fellow bandmate Emilie Basez graduated from UT in 2014 with a degree in Latin American studies and geography. Robberson said they combined the disciplines of art and Latin American studies in their band.

Robberson said the band began as a duo with her and Basez in 2012 when they traveled together in Brazil. They became a four piece in 2016 but still kept the Latin influences and sang in different languages.

“Something that's been really signature in Ley Line (is) our exploration of music and poetry through languages as in Portuguese, Spanish, English and French, but also language of rhythm,” Robberson said. 

The other two members of the band are twin sisters Madeleine and Lydia Froncek, who joined the band in 2016. Lydia described their band dynamic as a “sisterhood.”

“We often say that Maddy and I are twins and Kate and Emilie are twin flames,” Lydia said. “It's been this process of bringing these two duos together and finding that sense of unconditional love in all of our relationships (with each other).”

All four of them write and sing their songs to create a unique blend of all of their styles, but Lydia said the band does more than what is seen on stage. She said their visual album, coming out May 14, was filmed, edited and produced by the band.

“We often say, when you support us, you're supporting a women-owned business,” Lydia said. “Everyone takes on these different roles to create a business. We do our booking and everything. That's pretty special these days.”

Bassist Madeleine Froncek said what makes Ley Line unique is the way they blend different instruments from around the world in one song. In their performance at SXSW, they used a pandero, a drum from Puerto Rico, and a stand up bass, which originated in Western Europe. 

“There's kind of this genre bending that's happening because a lot of these instruments are not typically played together,” Madeleine said. “Ultimately, it's a different sound because we're using different instrumentation than a lot of bands.”

Robberson said while their style is complex, they try to make their music simple and relatable. While all four of them work to create a dynamic performance, she said they hope to share different cultures and languages through their music.

“We're just bringing things that we love to people that we think need to hear them,” Robberson said.