A Jewel in the Crown: An Interview with 13 Crowns
By Sanya Alexander
A Jewel in the Crown: An Interview with 13 Crowns
By Sanya Alexander
The Minnesota-based Jets band were a popular Polynesian-American group that gained notoriety in the mid-80s to early 90s. The original line-up was comprised of eight of the oldest of the seventeen children. Their sound was a gorgeous mix of pop, R&B and dance and they ultimately produced eight Billboard hits. With roots from Tonga, the Wolfgramm family allowed their traditional family ties to keep them grounded. Now, a new generation of the family is on the scene, 13 Crowns, and they are proving to be just as motivated and talented as their predecessors. Their debut single “Grateful” dropped on September 11 and it’s a fun, positive song with a groovy beat. In other words, it’s a jam!
I recently spoke with two of the members of seven-member 13 Crowns, Tihane and Abraham, about their music endeavors, their upcoming five-song EP release and their debut single.
Sonya Alexander: How did you get into music?
Tihane: We grew up around music. Our dad was in a group called The Jets.
SA: They were amazing.
Tihane: Yeah, we grew up going to their shows. They taught us to sing and play instruments. We love music.
Abraham: We love music and we really want to follow in their footsteps. It’s been awesome learning from them while growing up.
SA: What would you consider to have been your first big break?
Tihane: This year has been pretty monumental for us. We got to work with this amazing producer, “Poo Bear.” His name is Jason Boyd, but he goes by Poo Bear. He’s worked with Justin Bieber and a lot of amazing artists. Being able to work with him was a really big moment for 13 Crowns.
SA: What’s your process for writing and for touring? How do you prepare for both?
Tihane: I think we’ve prepared our whole lives since we’ve grown up playing music for the last eleven years. Now we’re just super excited that we get to promote our single “Grateful” on this radio promotion tour and in the following year promote our EP.
SA: Do you have a writing process?
Tihane: Yes, we do. For the most part, I’m the main writer. But, all of us have our creative input.
Abraham: I’ve written a couple of songs with Tihane. One is called “Only You.” It’s about that special someone. It was pretty awesome to write for the first time.
SA: Besides The Jets, who would you say have been some of your biggest musical influences?
Tihane: Well, we love a lot of old school bands like The Jackson 5, Earth, Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder…but, for modern day, we love Bruno Mars and Beyonce.
Abraham: Also, Coldplay and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Tihane: We love bands from California. We love No Doubt.
SA: When you perform live, what do you find most rewarding?
Tihane: I love performing live because the energy that we feel on stage is like nothing else. You get this adrenaline rush that’s super crazy. I think the most rewarding part of performing on stage is seeing the smiles on people’s faces. You can see their faces light up when they hear a song that they love and it’s really cool to see the effects that music has on people.
SA: Who would you like to collaborate with that you haven’t?
Abraham: We’d like to collaborate with Bruno Mars…veterans of the business like No Doubt.
Tihane: Working with Bruno Mars would be a dream collaboration. I think there’s a lot of really cool music out there today. There’s young artists out there that I really like. One of them is Kalif.
SA: How did you come up with the name of your band?
Tihane: The name is a mixture of two things. The first part, the number thirteen, represents our family and the amount of siblings that we have. And, the second part, the crown, represents to us that everybody has, in their own way, something special that gives them the right to wear a crown. Everyone has self-worth and is royal in their own way.
SA: How do you think the internet has affected music?
Tihane: Social media and the internet play a big part in music today. Everyone is connected. You go on Instagram and you can find almost any artist that you like. I think that it’s really cool that we can reach out to fans across the world. We have some friends in Italy who are YouTubers and we were able to get in touch with their fanbase. I thought it was really amazing that people across the world know who 13 Crowns is.
SA: Tell me about the new music you have out.
Abraham: We’re really happy about it. We’re happy that our fans get to hear all the positive vibes we’re trying to spread. We’re trying to be a little different from other types of artists.
Tihane: Like our song “Grateful,” it’s just a happy and positive vibe. The song itself addresses going through hard times, but still being happy and grateful for everything. I think it’s really relevant to what’s going on in the world today.
SA: Would you say there’s an over-arching theme to the five songs on your upcoming EP?
Tihane: I’d say unity and love are probably the main ones.
SA: How do you think you perform as family members as opposed to if you were just friends in a band?
Tihane: There’s something really fun about doing this with our siblings that makes it totally different. It keeps us grounded. It motivates us to work for each other, not just for ourselves.
Posted On 19 Oct 2017
By : Leah Brungardt
Get to know the pop/R&B band, 13 Crowns! “Grateful” is the name of their joyous debut single taken from their five-song EP, released on September 11. The track, written by Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd (Justin Bieber, Usher, 112, Chris Brown, Big Boi), was also added to radio in some markets across the country and additionally, it reached the number one spot on the All Access server for top downloads.
The band is made up of the seven oldest siblings of the 13 – member clan, ranging in age from 12 (drummer Nora) to 21 (Eve on keyboards), with 15-year-old Abraham and 16-year-old Tihane the lead singers and songwriters, 18-year-old Isabella on bass, along with Maikeli (14) and Heinrich (20) on guitar.
Connect With 13 Crowns Here:
Learn more about 13 Crowns in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Where does this interview find the band today? Is there music playing in the background? What music do you all like to listen to when you are relaxing or answering interview questions?
“Today we are updating notes on our social media, practicing for an upcoming show, and reviewing behind the scene footage from our video shoot for “Grateful” which we shot a few days ago”- Bella
How does 2017 so far compare to last year? How differently did you all approach this year then you did 2016?
“It has been an exciting year since at the end of last year we set a lot of goals for 2017. As we head into fall, it’s great to see that we are on target to achieve what we set out to do. That includes working with top producers, recording and EP, releasing a single to radio, and book shows for 2018 to promote EP. 2016 was an awesome year as well but more a preparing and planning to execute everything in 2017. So far we’re very happy with where we’re at.”- Tihane
Can you recall the moment you all realized that you could really make music together and be this band? Why do you think your name truly represents this group and the music that you create? Where did your name come from in the first place?
“We started about 11 years ago. With our parents both musicians and ready to guide us we wanted to see if we could follow in their footsteps. At first it didn’t sound promising, but it never is that way for anyone starting out. It takes years of practice and honing your craft to realize that it’s possible to be good at this. We practiced daily as part of our schedule and slowly we saw improvement. We were driven and inspired to accomplish what my Dad did with his family in The Jets. At some point along the way, each one of us quit the band because we were discouraged, or had an argument and now that we’re grown and here we can look back and laugh. You can’t give up. Not if you really want it bad enough. We are a really big family. We love it. There’s 13 kids so we wanted to put that in our name somehow since it represents who we are and where we came from. We see each one of us on earth as royal in our own right and we all wear a crown so…. 13 Crowns is what we chose.” – Eve
What is it like being in a band with your siblings? What’s something interesting or a challenge that you face that other non-related groups don’t have to deal with?
“We are with each other all the time and that’s a plus, and sometimes a curse. We are a typical family and argue at times, but we are forever connected and we know at the end of the day we have each other’s backs.”-Heinrich
How much did your parent’s musical background affect and really influence you all and this group?
“Our mom is a song writer and vocalist. She’s great at arranging and has given us that knowledge so we don’t only play, but we can arrange A cappella numbers and harmonize for times when we don’t have instruments. Our dad is a bass player and music director who knows from experience what it takes to be tight. He taught us that “practice doesn’t make perfect…..perfect practice makes perfect” so we strive to work until everything is right.. We still make mistakes at times but he is really great at making sure we’re doing it right. We work hard because they’ve taught us that you can’t expect success without it.”- Eve
I always like to ask artists how their hometown has been an influence on the kind of music they make and really what kind of a band they are today. So how do you think your hometown has affected you all and the music that you create?
“Being from Southern California, we are exposed to a lot of music diversity. We have a wide array of influences from Queen, Red Hot Chili Peppers and No Doubt to Bruno Mars, Beyoncé and Jay Z. I think being exposed to so many genres has given us the ability to appreciate all types of music. We’re from a suburb of LA so there’s a bit of everything here. We hope that comes through in our music.”- Heinrich
What was the inspiration for your debut single “Grateful”? How do you think it’s a perfect introduction to people of you and your music?
“While we were in the Studio with Poo Bear, we were sharing some of what our family has been through in the past. He had an idea for the chorus on this song and shared it with us and we loved it. He custom wrote the rest of the song on the spot based on our experiences as a family. We loved the upbeat vibe of the track, and the positive message of the song really represents who we are and what we want to share with our music.”- Tihane
How does it feel to finally get ready to release this 5-song EP? What are some other songs on this collection that you are excited about? Generally, how do you all go about writing the lyrics and the music for your songs?
“We are so excited to be releasing this EP. With the awesome response we’ve gotten from “Grateful”, we can’t wait to share the rest of the songs on this project. “Only You” features Abraham on the lead vocals along with Tihane and the track is fire. Tihane is the principal writer, but we all collaborate and give our input. We love the music they create so we were excited to get tracks from The Audibles and to be able to write some amazing songs from a very personal place. “Appreciate It” is basically the story of our journey in this business. That’s one of our favorites on the EP”- Heinrich
Do you have plans to tour with this EP this fall?
“We look forward to hitting the road on a promotional tour to visit radio stations, local news outlet, and possible high school appearances and other locations to meet and greet our Fanbase.” – Abraham
With the summer over now, what was your favorite part about it? What was something fun that this group did or tried for the first time?
“We played a show on the beach for 25,000 people. That was beyond exciting and a great experience for us as a band.” – Bella
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being in this band gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these hard times?
“Music has such a powerful influence. For us, this is something that we’ve been able to do as a family and we’re so happy to be sharing our music with the world. It’s our hope that we can bring an uplifting message and some positive light even in the midst of such heaviness and trials. There’s definitely going to be a reflection of what humanity is going through in music. Art imitates life, so that is inevitable.” – Eve
Who are some of your favorite artists? Is there anyone that you would still love to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for this band?
“There is some amazing talent out right now that we would love to collaborate with. Chance the Rapper and Khalid would be awesome, and of course the greats of today like Bruno Mars, Beyoncé and Justin Bieber would be a dream. It would be amazing to work with Earth Wind and Fire, No Doubt or Red Hot Chili Peppers since they’ve been a big influence on us. It would be cool to see how a collaboration would turn out with these bands that we have loved over the years.” – Tihane
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
“We want people to bob their heads to the music, relate to the message of the words, and have a big smile on their face when they hear our songs.” – Heinrich
What advice would you give to a band just getting started? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
“Practice, practice, practice. Don’t give up and get discouraged because it doesn’t come over night, or in a month or in a year. It’s a long process, but if you stay committed you’ll be successful.” – Tihane
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about the band or your new music?
“I just want to say that we’re excited for the journey that were starting and look forward to sharing what we’ve worked for for so many years with all of you. This is only the beginning.” – Heinrich
About the Author
Leah Brungardt (recently married) joined All Access Music Group in August 2011 and has been enjoying getting to know a new side of the music industry ever since. Having worked to promote radio stations in the past, seeing what makes a successful radio hit has been a thrill. As a lover of all genres of music, working at All Access Music Group is a perfect fit for Leah, and she loves learning about up and coming musicians as well. Most of her friends have come to rely on her for new music. Leah grew up overseas attending American international schools and attended The University of Arizona, where she earned a BA in Music Management. She roots for the Wildcats every chance she gets. Leah has been able to work at a variety of music-related jobs including several internships at small independent labels, ClearChannel Radio and Journal Broadcasting Group. She also spent time working retail at a store that specializes in vinyl, which was a lot of fun for her. Her favorite movie is Empire Records, so that makes perfect sense.