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Special Issue
WWD Music issue 09/04/2008

Music brings The Love Willows together.


This story first appeared in the September 4, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Guy-girl duos have proven to be successful in music, but these days it’s rare to find a pair that is actually “a couple.” Enter Atlanta-based twosome The Love Willows, who release their debut album “Hey! Hey!” Oct. 28.

Hope Partlow, 20, was originally signed to Virgin Records at 14 and released her debut effort two years later. The following support tour involved hiring a backup band in which Ryan Wilson, 23, filled the guitar opening. They started dating on the road and have been together ever since.

On her 18th birthday she moved out of her parents’ Memphis farmhouse and into Wilson’s parents’ attic to work on their new joint project.

“We started the record in November 2007,” Wilson says, adding that it took six months to complete writing, recording and producing themselves. During this time they caught the ear of band manager Avery Andon of Andon Artists. “He hit us up on MySpace,” says Partlow.

About a month after teaming with Andon they had a deal on the table with Decca Records. “They heard our demo and they wanted to release that, so that’s what we’re doing,” says Wilson, something that seldom happens with newly signed acts. “Everyone was afraid that if we had it redone, it would lose the vibe we set for ourselves,” adds Partlow.

That vibe — a blend of Partlow’s influences (Patsy Cline, old country and Gwen Stefani) and Wilson’s love of harmonies (like The Beach Boys, The Beatles and Queen) — is high-energy pop they describe as just “happy music.” And TV is catching on to their upbeat infectious sound. They’ve already had songs featured on MTV’s “The Hills” and “Real World Hollywood.”

To go along with their bubbly tunes they choose to wear a rainbow of colors when performing. “It definitely reflects the music, we want to be bright and not so humdrum and dull like a lot of other bands,” says Wilson.

Partlow’s penchant for color always includes a pouffey prom dress onstage. “I got the hookup from my mom, who ships dresses to bridal and prom shops,” she says of the gowns that she chops the bottoms off of to make flirty minidresses. But when budget allows, she hopes to one day don a Betsey Johnson party dress: “They’re so cute and old-fashion-y.”

Wilson, on the other hand, sticks with slim pants, T-shirts and one of the many pairs of Chuck Taylors he owns.


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