When Colin Healy woke up on Sept. 12, 2014, Billboard topper Kesha had tweeted his cover of her song "Die Young" to more than 3 million followers. Such out-of-the-blue occurrences have come to characterize his music career.
Perhaps the most significant came shortly before Twitter fame, when he reunited with fellow Trinity Episcopal School graduate Caroline Mauck at Bellytimber on Cary Street. The two formed a duo known as Colin and Caroline and released a summery foot tapper called "Fireflies."
That song quickly went viral, and their professionally filmed covers of artists ranging from Adele to Radiohead kept them in the spotlight. They've racked up over 2.5 million YouTube views, more than 100 million Spotify plays and 40,000 Facebook fans from around the globe.
Recently, they had an original song, "More Than Gravity," featured on hit Netflix show "13 Reasons Why." Now they're ready to release a collection of their originals for the first time. The 5-song EP, titled "Wish I Was," came out July 27.
"We want people to hear what we have to say and not get lost," Mauck says, describing the collection, which focuses on love and its trials. There's certainly no place to hide in the pared-down mix. Vocals take on the role of an instrument, she and Colin agree. Most listeners will likely appreciate this decision since Mauck's sultry voice harmonizes well with Colin's commanding range. It's no wonder they compare themselves to a cross between the Lumineers and the Civil Wars.
"I did have to give up a certain level of control for this album," says Healy, who previously produced their work. "Which I knew going in. We wanted a new perspective, some fresh ears. There was a push and pull, that's how even better ideas were born." Neilson Hubbard produced "Wish I Was" in Nashville at Skinny Elephant Recording, where soul sensation Leon Bridges has previously recorded.
"We also wanted to do it in a more traditional way, where you release a compilation, rather than a series of singles," Mauck says. Already she was moving away from this stream of consciousness style, after taking a College of Charleston class with Mark Bryan of Hootie and the Blowfish. But the recording process formalized this new approach. "When you release a collection of songs typically, I believe, artists love to have it unfold in a way that tells a story for an album."
It remains to be seen whether cohesive releases can pull fans from the algorithmic world of Spotify, where the duo get a thrill from watching listeners stream in different time zones. There's something to be said, though, for making connections beyond the screen.
Mauck and Healy ended up meeting artists in Nashville who show up on the same curated Spotify play lists. It was a reminder of real life serendipity, hearkening not only to their Bellytimber reunion but to initial encounters at Pach's Place, an outdoor jam spot at their high school. Their shared appreciation of Richmond shows up in a pair of new music videos, filmed locally by Daniel Bagbey. A video for "When You Love Someone," featuring local faces, also came out on July 27.
"To lovers in Virginia, we welcome all forms of love, and you and your partner will be featured on camera and individually to write down the answer to one simple question, 'Why do you love this person?'" said a casting call on Colin and Caroline's Facebook page. "Virginia is for lovers, and our goal with this song and music video is to showcase how all love is universal, in its many different forms."
Whether the Shockoe Bottom-laced video for "More Than Gravity" inspired Paramount Pictures to include Colin and Caroline on Netflix's "13 Reasons Why," they'll never know. "We're still unsure exactly how they discovered us, but we're glad they did," Mauck says. The show's soundtrack boasts indie heavy hitters such as Lord Huron and Hamilton Leithauser.
But Mauck and Healy are looking forward to low-key performances, too. Their favorite venue is the Boathouse at Sunday Park, particularly on Thursday evenings.
"On a nice night, with the sun setting over the lake, we grab a glass of wine, get some oysters, play some music, you can't beat that," Healy says.
"It's beautiful, a gem," Mauck agrees. S
"Wish I Was" can be ordered on iTunes.