Lily & Madeleine skip school to pursue music after YouTube fame 

If schools still assigned how-I-spent-my-summer-vacation reports, Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz could pen some stunners.

The singing Hoosier siblings spent months in 2012 forming a duo, Lily & Madeleine, and tracking the indie EP “The Weight of the Globe,” which was produced by their mentor, Zero Boys frontman Paul Mahern.

Last year, they were snapped up by Sufjan Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty imprint, which reissued “Weight” as well as the downtime-tracked “Lily & Madeleine,” featuring their otherworldly folk-pop harmonies.

This summer, the duo is on a comprehensive national tour that hits San Francisco next week.

Lily, 17, and Madeleine, 19, will be a high school junior and a college sophomore, respectively, when they go back to class. But they have no idea when that will be. With their parents’ blessing and a new sophomore album arriving in October, they temporarily dropped out of school to pursue their budding craft.

“Our mom comes with us on tour, and both of our parents are really supportive,” Madeleine says. “Supportive enough to let us come out of school and focus on music for awhile. And now that we’re out of school, we’re just working all the time.”

The Jurkiewicz’s teachers were prepared for such an inevitability, though. At high school in Indianapolis, Lily says, “I’d already missed a lot of classes for touring, so it was like I wasn’t even there.”

The same goes for undeclared major Madeleine. “I had to tell my professors what my situation was, because I had to miss a few weeks of school last October so we could tour Europe,” she says. “It was challenging to balance school and music, so I’m really happy that we’re just focusing on one for right now.”

The sisters never planned on performing professionally. Having sung around the house since they were toddlers, like their mother did, they started posting YouTube cover-song duets, just for fun. Their father, however, took the videos seriously, and secretly contacted the Bloomington-based Mahern, who was instinctively intrigued.

“Paul challenged us to write our own music for a while a few summers ago, so we wrote a song a day for several weeks,” Madeleine recalls.

“Lily & Madeleine” material — like “Paradise,” “Lost Upon the Sea,” and newer numbers “Rabbit” and “The Wolf Is Free” — is often nature-themed and far deeper than your average Taylor Swift ex-beau ballad.

“While Taylor Swift songs can be really fun to sing along to, it would be far too easy to write songs like that,” Lily says. “I just feel like there’s more to sing about, much more to discuss.”


Lily & Madeleine

Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: $12 to $15

Contact: (415) 551-7306,

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Tom Lanham

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