As siblings grow older, their perspectives often change. While they share a bond that can’t be rivaled, life is experienced differently as each begins to move into their own personality and petty differences are put aside as a friendship grows outside of strong family ties. For acoustic country duo Sibling Rivalry, made up of vocalist Olivia Butaud, 16, and older brother/lead musician, 20-year-old Mitchell Butaud, this shift away from rivals to friends began when Mitchell left home to attend Texas A&M. Writing and performing since 2011 (at the ages of 11 and 15), the separation caused the music of their beginnings to morph from innocent aspirations into a forward-thinking style that is distinctive and refreshing.
In these few short years, the pair caught the attention of Nashville’s elite and now, with more to say and an audience ripe for a change in the genre’s direction, Sibling Rivalry is set to release the EP FIRST LIGHT. A reflection of their growth as individuals, and as artists, this zesty take on life, love, and society challenges the boundaries of current country music and reinforces their newfound relationship and shared dreams of success.
“At first it was all a crapshoot and we were throwing darts in the dark,” stated Mitchell. “We were young and learning to write songs and perform. Now that we’ve gotten older and developed a more complete sound, we’ve gotten some very positive feedback. That affirmation makes it easier to move forward as we release FIRST LIGHT.”
FIRST LIGHT is an organic, stripped down effort showcasing Olivia’s command of a song and unique vocal flair while Mitchell brings fullness by singing harmony and playing guitar. The nostalgic opener “Always You” leads to the classic sound of “Hello Mr. Goodbye” as Sibling Rivalry draws the listener in. The true story of a homeless man’s death in “Home,” the project’s debut single, is a stark dose of reality before the pace quickens on “Thing About Love.” “Little Black Dress” encourages dressing up to get rid of the heartbreak blues and closer, “Natural Thing,” features a duet with producer/ songwriter Shane Stevens in this reflection on the quick course of a real and natural love.
“We’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing songwriters and mentors who have brought out the best in both of us, despite our opposite personalities and approaches to life,” says Olivia. “These differences are more pronounced now that we are both older and that brings a new energy as we write and perform. I think it shows in the music we chose for FIRST LIGHT.”
Collaborating with songwriters such as Stevens, Joanna Cotton, Maria Christensen and Ken Johnson on FIRST LIGHT, the Sibling Rivalry catalogue defies age and touches on all aspects of the human condition, both positive and negative.
For instance, their previous release “No Medicine Can Heal,” called attention to bullying in schools and was chosen as the theme song for a OneCallNow national anti-violence hotline. With the release of “Home,” a somber tale of a homeless man, they tackle two important issues by featuring homeless animals in the music video. Encouraged to raise funds for charity, Olivia and Mitchell are honored to donate their personal proceeds to support the Cesar Milan Foundation (CMF) as they work to promote “Home” and its powerful message.
“Our songs are heartfelt and are about things that we are experiencing or seeing what others around us are going through,” said Olivia and Mitchell in rare agreement. “We wrote ‘Home’ in response to a death in the homeless community of Nashville. When our video producer, Jeff Ray, suggested using homeless dogs in the storyline, it just tugged at our hearts. We have a rescue dog in our family so the video and the donation to CMF just made sense.”
Bringing this same heartfelt delivery to all they do, Sibling Rivalry has worked with and been mentored by many. As a result of this dedication, they have played around their hometown of Magnolia (a suburb outside of Houston) and across Texas at House of Deréon, Main Street Crossing, Dosey Doe The Big Barn, Dosey Doe Music Cafe, and House of Blues Foundation Room. Nashville venues include the famed Bluebird Café, Soulshine Pizza Factory, and Commodore Grille. They also garnered national attention as one of 15 bands on the COZI TV reality show "Next Great Family Band.”
Knowing that a music career is a lot of hard work, Olivia and Mitchell are spending this summer immersing themselves in the Nashville songwriting scene, writing with noted artists and playing gigs to introduce new material. Through it all these “good friends” stay grounded by pursuing an active lifestyle of various sports and activities. When taking a break from music, they paddle board, jet ski, play tennis, swim, or workout together. Age is not a factor with these two; they both are equals in their music and outside activities.
“We have a passion for music and for life and enjoy what we do,” said Olivia. “We have been blessed to get this far and we stay motivated by writing new songs and seeing our fans’ reactions to them when we play shows. We are excited about what’s to come this summer.”