Absolutely slammin’ the ‘gram with their unique vibe, bad-ass fashion sense and no frills attitude, sassy singer-songwriter sisters Vanessa and Arna – aka @nofrillstwins – are taking not only Instagram, but the entire Australian music industry by storm.
With their spine-tingling vocals, striking sense of style and more than 60k followers (and counting), there’s no doubt that @nofrillstwins are absolutely t-winning the Insta game!
The secret to their success? Being totally and utterly unique! We sat down with the dynamic duo to get their advice on all things music, family, fashion, individuality, and being true to yo’self on Instagram – no frills.
How did @nofrillstwins come about?
We’ve been singing and writing songs together since we were toddlers but we created our name “No Frills Twins” upon making our YouTube channel in 2012 because our mum wanted family overseas to be able to hear our music. “No Frills Twins” wasn’t a contrived business strategy, we were just teens sharing online who we genuinely were on an everyday basis. We didn’t expect anything to come of it!
Your vibe is so quirky and unique! What’s your background and how did you develop your current style?
We have always loved playing dress ups since we could crawl, we even mistakenly cut up a beautiful silk saree of mum’s when we were little to make our own dresses. However, in our later years of High School we discovered that fashion became an empowering creative outlet and a coping mechanism.
We turned to loud, unique fashion in response to feeling invisible, misunderstood and unaccepted at school. It was like a positive rebellion. We don’t overthink or label our style, we wear whatever we like from recycled to high fashion, and mixing and matching both together is fun even if it “clashes”.
Your account has such a cool, badass attitude. Where did your persona arise from?
Thank you so much! Honestly we’re not wearing a badass persona, we’re just being unapologetically ourselves with no particular strategy or equation for success in mind. We don’t overthink what we post or curate to follow an Insta theme.
Our biggest seal of approval comes from each other, so we don’t care what other people have to say or think about our look or expression. Maybe people pick up on us being comfortable in ourselves and not shape-shifting for others and that’s what seems badass! Having each other gives an armour of bravery and self assurance, we feel really lucky to tackle life as a team.
What are your passions? What drives you to create?
Seeing an incredible band or hearing a song that makes you FEEL something reminds us of what a treasure music is to the world and fuels us to want to contribute to that. It’s moments when we look at each other and say “damn I wish I wrote this song” that inspires us. It’s also artists like Leonard Cohen who “shows” rather than “tells” that reminds us that songwriting is an incredible craft.
Plus – songwriting is bloody fun. We think creating songs is like a magic trick: one minute it didn’t exist and the next it does. Sometimes songs come out of thin air and it feels like they write themselves through us. We’re driven by the limitlessness and surprise factor of creating new music. It’s rewarding to watch our gallery of music grow and grow. We can’t wait to look back in our old age!
While some people are out there winning court cases, building houses and saving lives, our sense of accomplishment and purpose comes from creating songs. Speaking can be hard, especially when you’ve got social anxiety like the both of us, so it’s liberating to be able to speak through music. It’s also extra cool to take advantage of the poetic license that music offers. You can touch on tricky subjects and wrap it up in a nice little melodic package that will reach people. Our fans drive us to keep creating because they’re always eager for more.
Would you call yourselves Changemakers? Why?
We’re not trying to change the world, but if we can make any kind of positive difference, that is freaking cool. We want to inspire other artists to use Instagram as an empowering platform for self expression. We feel like it’s the ultimate postmodern art gallery. An Instagram feed hangs beautiful little windows into our lives and everyday experiences, allowing everyday people to be artworks and to create artworks.
Throughout the years some of our fashion choices brought us severe cyber bullying, but we always stood strong, proud and unchanged, and we’ve been told that’s inspired and empowered other young people.
When you’re not intentionally trying to make change, it can be easy to miss seeing your own positive impact on others! We recently received a beautiful message on Instagram from a mother thanking us for being positive role models to her 10 year old daughter who was being bullied at school about having a unibrow. We experienced the same thing at her age but now we reclaim the unibrow by dramatising it into many of our makeup looks. Her mother said we’ve made her daughter feel proud of her eyebrows!
What’s your creative process for producing unique content?
We can’t force our creativity, it needs to come naturally. For some reason going for strolls together often sparks creative ideas. It’s time alone where we really bond, talk about everything and often uncover how we’re feeling (and feelings often turn into songs!)
When it comes to our songwriting – Vanessa is strong melodically and Arna is strong lyrically. So it’s the perfect team!
We start off by creating a melody (often with “filler” lyrics that might even just be gibberish) and once we’re vibing off a nice melody everything else falls into place, kind of like a puzzle.
Arna will then delve deeper into refining lyrics while Vanessa is way ahead thinking about where the melody will go in the bridge section. We love having separate strengths and merging them together.
A little secret of ours is that sometimes when we struggle to complete a song we actually combine unfinished songs together. It’s so exciting when they fit together… like a TINDER MATCH!
What’s it like working with your sister? Do you have the same creative vision or do you clash?
Working together is both SO FUN and SO EASY (it feels weird even calling it “work”). It’s pretty effortless and we aren’t combative, we always seem to be on the same page artistically.
Everything about you screams unique! Where do you find the confidence to break the status quo?
Having each other give us the confidence to do anything in life. The embarrassing truth is we actually have no idea what is current and cool. We’re so out of the loop. Even if we wanted to be cool we wouldn’t know how!?
Do you have any Instagram hacks for other creators?
Interact with your followers, it’s easy and it means so much to them.
We also encourage you to support and interact with other creatives on Instagram. Let them know you love what they do. Networking is important and Instagram makes networking ridiculously easy. We’ve established lots of collaborations through Instagram.
What is the hardest thing about being a creative in the public eye?
The hardest thing may be the pressure to stay current. The rate of society’s consumerism is speeding up and as an artist if you don’t deliver quickly or regularly enough you can risk becoming obsolete. Sometimes creating requires you to take a step away but by the time you return there will be a hundred new artists and a hundred new hits. Musicians create because they’re passionate about music so it can be deflating or distracting to compete or compare.
Is it difficult being so honest, raw and unique on social media?
Absolutely. Vulnerability is often difficult enough.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping your private life private, but sharing your struggles online can help connect people and that’s an amazing side of the platform. The truth is we’ve all got battles! For us it’s easier to talk about the hard stuff through song.
How do you find Instagram a platform for positive change?
We find that if you follow the right accounts that inspire, motivate or entertain you then Instagram can be a platform to bring positivity into your life. We’ve loved some of the body positivity moments like #nomakeupchallenge and #onlinevsreality and have found that the platform is heading in a more “real” direction by users.
Instagram allows celebs to choose whether they want to share polished or unpolished content of themselves. Portraying realness seems to be applauded or preferred, which is both positive for the real person behind the celeb status and the real people following.
Words of wisdom to empower other women wanting to be unique on Insta?
1) Just start. Don’t put it off any longer. You only get anywhere by moving. Starting at the bottom is a good place to start!
2) Don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself to yourself! Make sure you work on your craft and become a better version of yourself every year. Reflect on your growth just as much as you gaze on your goals. If you don’t look back you might not see the distance you’ve travelled.
3) Just try your best! Don’t beat yourself up or be your own bully. Be patient and stick at it. Things don’t happen overnight, even if it looks like it has for somebody else.
4) Make sure you’re doing what you love so you can love what you do.