There’s an infectious air about the Sanchez sisters, who make up the duo Entangled Dreams. Twins Michaela and Annabelle aren’t bubbly, really, but rather radiate joy as we sit outside on a chilly March afternoon. They giggle and smile, look back at each other as they recount their passions for music and their latest record, “Afterthought,” which was released in late February.
“We definitely always feed off of each other’s energy,” Michaela says. “Playing music has just come naturally to us our whole lives, and we fully trust each other.”
“We’re best friends,” Annabelle adds. “We’re playing music together, and it’s great.”
The title “Afterthought” was inspired by the final track on the album “Quicksand.” The first and last of its lyrics announce, “It’s the afterthought that counts.” The symbolism is quite important to the twins and almost all-encompassing of what they’d like to accomplish with the album.
“It’s just like, ‘What did you take from all of it?’” Michaela asks, rhetorically. “We want our music to comfort people and bring them joy—to have an impact on people. A lot of these songs are personal to us.”
“Michaela, can I tell her?” Annabelle turns and asks. “It’s always a great memory for me when she wrote this. She always writes differently—whether typing on her iPad or on paper. And it’s always something creative. . . . ‘Quicksand’ is mostly rap—spoken word, whatever you want to call it—and the words were going off to the side of the paper. I was watching her write it, and that’s when I wrote the guitar melody. . . . That was probably our biggest collaboration.”
“It’s kind of an angry song,” Michaela says with a laugh. “It was just me getting everything out onto paper. I didn’t know [if] it was going to be a song or a rap.”
Entangled Dreams can often be found at Waterline Brewing, A Tasting Room, Fermental, The Sour Barn and other Port City locales. However, it can be tricky for the two talents to broaden their reach as much as they’d like— especially since they just turned 16. “It gets pretty complicated,” Michaela admits.
“We never want people to look at us differently because of our age,” Annabelle says.
They’ve come to understand the technical issues they face with youth—such as not being able to play venues that have an age minimum of 18. Their mother-turned-band-manager, Amy, has to be available to take them for gigs until they get their licenses. It poses an image issue as well. For example, microaggressions from well-meaning fans can be more demoralizing than supportive.
“Someone in the audience will tell me, ‘They are phenomenal,’ or ‘They are so good,’” Amy explains. “‘How old are they?’ . . . Then it’s ‘Aw, they’re so good for their age.’”
The girls recently relocated to Wilmington after a stopover during their “In Color” (released in 2016) tour. They fell in love with the city and decided to move here that summer from their hometown in New Mexico. Yet, Michaela and Annabelle have been writing, singing and recording for almost half their lives already. They’ve essentially focused on music as their careers since they were 8 years old.
“We started putting up a capella songs [on YouTube] we composed between 9 and 13 [years old],” Michaela tells.
“We decided to homeschool before high school started,” Annabelle says.
They wanted more time to focus on their careers. Amy got on board mainly because she was amazed by her twins’ genuine ambition. “They were just very driven and very certain,” she recalls. “They were sure of themselves, and it’s really what brought them joy.”
The sisters first learned to play acoustic guitar at summer camp. They had a few official lessons while still living in Albuquerque, but have mostly taught themselves how to play—all while writing and recording songs. Annabelle is now perfecting her skills on electric guitar while Michaela has picked up bass. “Afterthought,” which was recorded and produced with Jim Fox at Low Tide Studio, is a good representation of what Entangled Dreams would sound like with a full band.
“Jim really put a lot of other instrumentation in this,” Annabelle explains. “He added electric guitar. He did the drums and bass lines himself. . . . What I was so happy about when we started working with Jim was he could really add more of an alternative-rock element with the drums.”
Their work now has grown from folk, pop and indie sounds to alt-pop. “So Here I Write” opens the record. It centers on how writing often helps individuals express themselves, and the musicians reflect upon the idea of how music can be an outlet for anyone. They want the song and album to bring comfort, reflection and meaning to its listeners.
“Music gives us purpose,” Michaela says. “Writing and creating helps through everything. . . . Without the people, without the audience, to me, means a lot less. Sharing [our music] is really important.”
“If I was born with any kind of talent, I want to use it for something good,” Annabelle states—“to reach people.”
Lately, the two find themselves working more and more together, giving critiques and making each song a collaborative effort. “[Annabelle] tends to write longer songs than I do,” Michaela tells. “So, for example, we shortened ‘Darling.’”
“I don’t write as often as Michaela,” Annabelle admits. “So when I write, I write a lot. . . . There was this part in a song that, if I took it out, the other parts wouldn’t make any sense. That was when Michaela was getting better with rapping, so we were like ‘Let’s try this’ and it worked.”
Early on the twins were introduced to ‘90s pop-rock, like Blink182, but they were also listening to a lot of Christian bands and rappers, along with Christina Perry. “[‘Jar of Hearts’] was one of the first songs I remember singing with Annabelle,” Michaela says. “We recorded it, and it was awful—but it was fun.”
“I think that’s what really helped us come into all these different genres and mix them,” she adds.
Inspired by the likes of another popular duo, 21 Pilots, Michaela and Annabelle also seek local and regional inspiration, as heard from Paleo Sun and Kyle Lindley. They agree they couldn’t have asked for a better community of musicians and bands to grow into—namely, Striking Copper and the David Dixon Trio, for whom they’ve opened.
“There’s a lot of talent here,” Michaela states.
“They’ve never treated us like their competition,” Annabelle continues, “more like their companions in the live music scene.”
While they gear up to celebrate the record release, they’ve already written a half-dozen songs for the next recording project. They want to organize another tour and keep working to play bigger stages. It starts with finding reputable record labels and management.
“We’ve always thought big and dreamed big,” Annabelle says. “We encourage others to do the very same.”
Entangled Dreams will return to one of their most frequent haunts, The Sour Barn, to celebrate “Afterthought” with a free show on March 25. Kyle Lindley and Jim Fox will open starting at 6:30 p.m. Port City Que food truck will serve grub throughout the festivities and merch giveaways. The twins will be filming the show for their next music video, too.