Band to Watch: Delta Rae

These folk-rockers are festival favorites — and count Lindsey Buckingham among their many fans

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Smallz and Raskind

Band: Delta Rae

From: Durham, North Carolina

Members: Ian Hölljes (vocals and guitar), Eric Hölljes (vocals, guitar, piano and keys), Brittany Hölljes (vocals), Elizabeth Hopkins (vocals), Mike McKee (drums) and Grant Emerson (bass)

Their sound: In theory, Delta Rae’s music is Americana folk rock. In practice, it’s a bit more complicated: bluesy and soulful, sometimes gentle and melodic, sometimes aggressive and visceral —and always rich with textured four-part harmonies. From howling gospel-inspired choruses to mellow bluegrass-tinged guitar riffs, everything’s fair game.

3-Minute Bio: Delta Rae has already built up a fan base devoted to their infectious, festival-friendly aesthetic. Following the release of their 2012 debut album Carry the Fire, the band has spent the past year on tour and just played their first set at Bonnaroo. At the cornerstone of the band are the Hölljes siblings, who grew up singing together. The trio eventually teamed with Hopkins, McKee and Emerson to form the complete sextet, now based in the Hölljes’ hometown of Durham, NC.

“The sibling relationship is an inseparable part of the dynamic,” Ian Hölljes, who co-writes Delta Rae’s songs with his brother Eric, tells TIME. Naturally, the other members of the band get pulled into that dynamic too. “We really do operate as a family,” Ian says. “We’re blunt with each other when we’re talking about music and we’re blunt with each other when we’re talking about the business of it.”

So far, that spirit of teamwork and dedication seems to have paid off. With just one full-length album to their name, Delta Rae has already caught the attention of one of their major influences: Fleetwood Mac frontman Lindsey Buckingham. He heard their song “If I Loved You” in a Los Angeles recording studio last year and added his own guitar melody to the official track. “It was just euphoric,” singer Brittany Hölljes tells TIME. “It was beyond a dream that he would even hear our music and acknowledge that he liked it, but to have him be inspired to play something along with it was just mind-boggling.”

Delta Rae’s now working on their sophomore album, which they’re hoping to release in early 2014. Although the band says this next batch of songs will incorporate new genres and new influences picked up while on tour, the message behind the music will remain the same. “It’s about putting words to those incredible feelings that are bursting forth from a lot of young people right now who don’t really have a place to go or a means of expression,” Brittany says. “We’re trying to give people permission to feel strong feelings and dispel the myth that apathy is cool.”

Listen: “If I Loved You,” featuring Lindsey Buckingham

Watch: the video for “Bottom of the River”

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