Emphasis on Ampersand
Words by Samantha Lauron Photos by Eric Morales
The love and soul exuded by this singer-songwriter duo can be felt and heard throughout their music.
Jenn Billiot and Kirk Garrett make up the duo, Lady & West, and their narrative is one of soul, spirit and pure love. The pair met while working at an ad agency in New York City and began getting to know one another over music while at company outings.
“We were brought together and connected through a love for music and a love for each other,” says Jenn.
As they shared their story while sitting across the table from each other in their Cherrywood home with Muddy Waters softly playing in the background, it’s evident that this statement couldn’t be truer.
In the early stages of their courtship, Kirk gifted Jenn with a guitar for Christmas. This gesture ended up symbolizing more than just a gift; it was the beginning of what was to become Lady & West. The two started writing songs, learning covers and going on gigs in their then-residence of Brooklyn. With Jenn on vocals and Kirk playing alongside her, the energy and chemistry orchestrated between the two are both magical and pure.
“I feel like Kirk was this missing piece in my life; there wouldn’t be a band, there wouldn’t be music [without him]. He’s such an influence for me,” says Jenn. Kirk chimes in, “The duo is about us inspiring each other and building off [one another’s ideas] so it becomes much better than what it would’ve been.”
While their songwriting has transitioned into a more poetic style than when it originally began, Lady & West’s musical style is heavily influenced by the folk, blues and old country music they grew up around.
Their debut album, Bright Soul, was a major game-changer for the duo. Jenn met Matt Noveskey, producer and Blue October member, at SXSW one year and ended up striking up a connection that led to Novesky producing the album. “I don’t think I knew how important this was to me; it was such a turning point,” says Jenn, tearfully.
After the album was released in 2014, Lady & West made their move to Austin a year later. “There’s a spirit here. Maybe it’s in the water,” says Kirk with a laugh. “There’s all these good souls living around [me].”
Environment and experiences are important influences for Lady & West’s songwriting, and they’re looking ahead for new ways to explore storytelling by experimenting with the concept of space.
“We’re particular about the environment because we want it to be a holistic experience and a rewarding experience for everyone,” says Jenn. “If you listen to the space, it has something to say, too.”
Their journey so far has been characterized by authenticity and the freedom to create, and they hope to continue that going forward. Jenn goes on to explain what motivates her, “You can have just a guitar and a story and move people.”
Did you know? You can find Lady & West’s debut album, Bright Soul, on Spotify and Soundcloud. You can catch them performing live at EASTside Magazine’s Women Issue Event at Springdale Station on September 28.