Written by: Monica McCafferty
Photography by: Fivish
Maye Thomas and Rachel Rector are known in Tulsa and beyond for their unique talents in the arts. Now the curious twosome has sparked local fandom with the debut of their rock duo - Panty Lines.
Seemingly all aspects of Maye and Rachel’s partnership and project have come wholly together out of patient trust of themselves and each other. “We were always so kindred”, says Maye. The curiosity of new friends five years ago now bookends a year of rehearsing, writing, and performing as a two-woman band.
While Maye is easily recognized for her ethereal voice and performance skills, Rachel is usually behind the camera and more well-known for her experimental photography. Although this is her first year playing live, she has been a drummer for a decade. “There are very few people that I play music with - since our first practice last August, we just immediately connected and [started writing] our first two songs”, says Rachel.
There is undoubtedly something special to the weighted balance of two women with substantial talent and appeal coming together to create a new amplitude. Both seem to wear softness on their sleeves of flowers and lace, yet grip with a powerful strength. And the confidence in themselves and each other is soothingly palpable. This influential presence energizes the stage, and their unique writing process.
“It comes together fast and slow at the same time...just riding a wave of the songs. It builds in a moment, then we go back and piece it all together”, says Maye. Recording their sessions is a big piece of how the duo creates. “I think it's important to record everything because that's how it organically comes out”, says Rachel.
The close friendship of Maye and Rachel is significant in equal part to their own individual gifts. Mutual admiration adds valuable sustenance to their unit, reinforcing personal expression.
“She's a siren - she'll just belt out. Sometimes they're not words [but sound] like lyrics, so have this melody and flow. It's ethereal. And that inspires me - I hear words in my head and write those…It's something that's organic and symbiotic. I think that's what makes this project special, and people can feel that sometimes”, says Rachel. “It's fun, getting to that place where we can jam…we get into that flow, where we're just letting the songs come together”, says Maye.
"Sometimes, if I’m writing, I'm also thinking about Maye's life and my life- I combine that in the words in a way. So those songs are kind of about both of us, even though they're also very personal”, says Rachel.
The process has also been personally healing to them both. “When I first started drumming…I can remember I would just focus on that one thing. It's a very special feeling. I only feel that way when I'm playing music- no other art form makes me feel that way. And that's a really, really special feeling in my brain that's very rare... It’s a meditation for me”, says Rachel. “The songs already feel like future nostalgia or something - they are healing through me in this moment, and then these songs, these vibes are something that will always be here now - so excited to write more,” says Maye.
The duo uses no special effects other than a vocal pedal. And the simplicity of instruments and methods - Rachel’s minimalist drumming technique and Maye using her grandfather’s guitar - further compose the magic that seems to permeate this pair. Letting raw sound and emotion drive the music leaves nothing to be desired - “We can make enough noise”, says Rachel.
With goals of touring and an EP on the horizon, the women of Panty Lines have a lot to look forward to as they wrap up their first year having built a solid foundation on rich soil.