Courage My Love is an alternative/pop three-piece from Kitchener, Ontario comprised of twin sisters Mercedes Arn-Horn (guitars/vocals) and Phoenix Arn-Horn (drums/keys), and bassist Brandon Lockwood.
The Arn-Horn sisters, who are both classically trained on several instruments, launched the group as teenagers. After appearing in a local battle of the bands in 2010, they were signed to Warner Music Canada. The strength of their first two EPs, including 2013’s “Becoming” (later re-released as a full-length in 2015), earned them a Juno Award nomination for best “Breakthrough Group of the Year.”
In February, Courage My Love will release its second full-length, Synesthesia (Warner Canada / InVogue Records), named for the condition where the simulation of one sense automatically triggers another (for example, seeing colors while hearing music). “This was probably the most difficult album we’ve ever made, in terms of writing,” Mercedes says. Notably, this time around their music has taken on new electronic textures, a result of Phoenix teaching herself how to program synths.
Songwriting was done in two phases. The first lasted nearly two years before an initial recording session and the remainder of the album was developed from there. “We knew going in that we didn’t want to rush anything (as much as we all wanted new music out ASAP),” Mercedes says. “We knew that at this stage in our career this album was pretty much make or break. This would be the turning point. So we couldn’t allow any filler songs. That’s why the last five songs, especially, had to be above and beyond anything we’d done before. There was a lot of pressure, but sometimes pressure can lead to an amazing end result.”
Among those end results is “Stereo,” the first single to be released from Synesthesia. The song came about as the sisters watched their mother struggle to connect with members of their family that previously had close bonds. “Seeing this sadness and frustration in our mother really hit home for Phoenix and me,” Mercedes says. “The song is about trying to communicate, trying to reach out and not giving up even after you’ve been pushed away time and time again. Until your last resort becomes this person you’re trying to talk to hearing how you feel on the radio and knowing you’re singing about them.”
Directed by Emma Higgins, the video for “Stereo” takes cues from the album’s sensory-driven themes and melds them with the song’s yearning for connection into a hazy backdrop lit with vibrant pinks and dark blues. “The whole album has been about tying imagery together with the music in a symbiotic way. We knew the visuals had to be less about a story line, and more about an emotion or a feeling,” Mercedes says.
Their commitment to the visual aesthetics of the video even influenced their choice of gear. For example, Mercedes is shown playing a white Fender Jazzmaster as opposed to her usual tobacco-burst Telecaster. “I’ve played [Jazzmasters] before in the studio, but never owned one. It’s probably next on my list of dream guitars. The versatility of tone is just amazing, and I always go after really weird chord voicings, so the clarity of the Jazzmaster is perfect for what I want.”
Check out the video “Stereo” now. Synethesia is currently available for preorder.