It’s not every duo that can claim to have been collaborating from birth, but the Sanchez 2winz, Raúl and Rod Sánchez, don’t recall a time before they were blending their talents. “Even when we were in our bunk beds we would make up stories at night,” says Raúl. “Each of us would play a character and we would create little narratives based on our characters and our toys. We found new ways to explore that as we got older.”
Raúl learned to play piano, and was drawn to the written word, while Rod was attracted to painting and digital visual communications technology, as well as the beat-driven electronic music. It was in college that their collaborations became something more.
“At Ohio State, I was doing poetry readings and Rod was exhibiting his paintings. I was just starting to explore piano and he was exploring making beats. We realized something special happened when we put the audio and visual work together,” explains Raúl. They could see that they had a larger impact by approaching the audience from more than one media. “You could see a change in their eyes and we really wanted to explore this.”
“We incorporated that into a thesis project—Living Skinless,” says Rod. “We were telling the story through a spectrum of media—using paints, music, live-action video, animation with the score and visuals performed live.”
“I was playing keyboard to the visuals and Rod was queuing up beats and mixing the visuals live; we were trying to tap into all the senses of the audience,” says Raúl. The story was about freeing yourself of any “skin,” whether societal or political, and not living in a dichotomy. The main character (played by Raúl) was a blue man dragging a birdcage through New York City, personifying the nervous system. He was trying to tap into his voice, while under attack by other characters in the film—the black brush people—who were trying to paint him black into conformity. The film depicts the flow of images inside a painter as his painting is happening in the outside world.
“The intension of the project was to evolve the traditional cinema event from an on-screen experience into an experience that can occur live in a three-dimensional sensory space,” says Rod.
Rod and Raúl performed live for the audience, rather than using a prerecorded soundtrack. “Live cinema is an interesting art form because it isn’t always tangible; it relies on performance and you are creating a first-person experience that is unique each time you perform it,” says Raúl.
When it comes to creating music, there also is no set process, rather it flows naturally from their other artistic creations. “I think that writing and painting really informs our music,” says Raúl. “I think of it as a soundtrack to an emotional experience—a sonic experience of what is happening in the heart.”
“We are always talking about new ideas, and new ways to create sound,” says Rod.
The brothers consider it a gift to have someone so close to create with. “We have shared our life experiences—the same life stages, the same questions, and parents,” says Raúl. “Maybe I will notice that one of my pieces is dark, and then Rod brings light to it, and vice versa.”
Since the Sánchez twins live together, the collaboration is pretty much nonstop. “We feel like we create all the time,” says Rod. “We are constantly talking about ideas and it’s almost like a stream of consciousness; like one mind with two mouths. We are always going back and forth, tackling questions together that we have different ways of exploring.”
Both brothers work full-time “day jobs,” and though it can be difficult to balance their schedules, they work in related fields that help to inform their art. Raúl holds a full-time position at NYU in the division of languages and humanities, where he teaches writing and other communications courses.
“I’m teaching students to discover themselves in the language, so I constantly bring in different media when teaching, besides print media—text, videos, music, paintings. As a teacher, my goal is to be a catalyst for thought, emotion, and action. I think music does that as well,” says Raúl.
Rod is a experience/user interface designer for Scholastic, where he helps to create digital learning experiences, concept art for educational games, as well as sound design ideas for students. “I am able to utilize technology and discover new treatments to engage the user. Art is a little bit different with each tool you use. I am able to keep learning and extending the craft,” he says.
“Music is always a part of it,” says Raúl of their work. Their latest project, “Winged Painter,” released last July, was a tribute to musician Tori Amos. It raised money for her organization RAINN—Rape Abuse Incest National Network. RAINN operates several sexual assault/abuse hotlines, and also carries out sexual violence prevention programs. Amos, herself a rape survivor, founded RAINN after numerous fans shared their own traumatic stories with her and she wanted to do something to help.
The Sánchez’s were first introduced to Amos’s music by a friend who had been tormented by her own past experience with rape. “We wanted to spread awareness about RAINN, in honor of our friend,” says Rod.
“Winged Painter” is a video and music project that incorporates animation and electro-acoustic music to tell a story through the creation of a painting. “The piece invites the viewer to take a journey within a painting as it is unfolding in real time,” says Rod. Signed copies prints of the painting were offered as part of a contest sponsored by ‘Tori Amos & Fans‘ the largest Tori Amos Facebook fan group.
“Having full-time jobs changes your perspective a little bit,” explains Raúl. “We went into this project not expecting a monetary return. It was more about the art itself and awareness.” The pair raised more than $1,000 for RAINN.
You can watch “Winged Painter” above and learn more about the Sánchez twins at www.sanchez2winz.com.
Their new single, “Resurrection Heart” hits iTunes on August 2015.