Sisters Kayla and Kelli Iutzwig are in tune with one another, so much so that you'll notice how they seamlessly finish each others’ thoughts if you’re chatting with them for a stretch. Being in harmony seems natural to the siblings and it’s important to them, too, since together they’re Wild Fire, a promising pop country duo with a new EP set to release Friday.
Case in point: the following is their exchange when we ask what they’d like to have accomplished in music ten years from now.
“We have huge, huge goals. We would love to do world tours,” said Kayla, 15. “Obviously, like in the near future, maybe opening up for someone on a tour would be amazing. We want to take our careers to the biggest level we can imagine.”
“And we’d love to spread our music to as many countries and continents as we possibly can and just travel,” chimed in sister Kelli, who is a year younger.
“Yeah, for sure,” Kayla resumes, without missing a beat. “We want to just inspire people everywhere. We’ve noticed, especially on social media creating personal connections with people, it’s so amazing how much support we get from even the U.K. and we’re not even from there. It’s just crazy.”
This "you-start, I’ll-finish" phenomenon is especially evident when the girls get excited. There’s lots for Wild Fire to be excited about these days. Been There, the new EP, releases on major music platforms Friday. On Saturday, they’ll celebrate with an afternoon release show at Kemah Boardwalk. These are just the latest milestones for the Clear Lake-area siblings who seem primed for many more impressive tomorrows.
In just three years, the duo has earned some thrilling distinctions, including a finalist berth in RodeoHouston's Rodeo Rockstar competition and a win in the Young Adult Female Vocalist of the Year category at the Josie Music Awards. The JMAs bill themselves as the world’s largest independent artist awards show. Wild Fire has also been cited as one of the best young artist duos by the Texas Country Music Association and was chosen as an ambassador act for women in country music by the Global Country Music Association.
If that seems like a lot for two teenagers to bear, rest assured these polished and talented young women seem entirely up to the task. Of late, they’ve honed their skills in area venues like Firehouse Saloon, Dosey Doe and Birraporetti’s. What audiences have seen at those venues, at the Josies and elsewhere is the culmination of years of hard work in the performing arts.
“I was three when I started taking dance,” Kelli explained and remembered performing her first play at seven or eight years old. She had a solo and said, “I just knew at that moment. I just love people watching me and people being inspired by stuff I do.”
“I started dance and musical theater a little later, I was about six years old,” Kayla said and added, “I really realized music was something I definitely wanted to do when we were in the Rodeo Rockstar competition about three years ago at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. We did our first performance really together singing harmonies and everything and I realized, ‘Wow, like this could be a real thing, like I really enjoy doing this.’”
Like lots of young folks who are finding their passions, the sisters said they grew into opportunities laid out for them by their parents.
“We do have our parents to credit for our work ethics and everything. They work insanely hard and I think that’s really reflected on us,” Kayla mentioned.
“I think one of the biggest aspects of music and why we love it so much is anything we’ve ever done our parents completely supported, so they didn’t force us into this at all,” Kelli completed the notion. “We’ve never had any doubts. We just love doing it and they support us to their full potential.”
Added support has recently come from Shane Stevens, Abbey Rowe and Bonnie Baker, the songwriters who helped the Iutzwigs craft the six tunes on Been There, and Nash Overstreet, of Hot Chelle Rae fame, who played on and produced, engineered, mixed and mastered the EP. The girls said they’d bring each song’s big idea to the table and help flesh them out. The result is a collection that runs from sassy stuff like the track “Flaunt,” to the lead single, "Billboard Sign," to an insanely catchy warning to all the scrubs out there called “Been There Dumped That.” The songs clearly speak to an audience with which Kayla and Kelli identify.
“We really want our fans to feel empowered, inspired, we want them to know that you can honestly do anything if you put your mind to it and have the courage to just go after it,” Kayla said.
“I just want them to feel inspired and really relate to our music,” Kelli echoed. “That’s one of the biggest things we try to do, is just put relatable stuff out there so people can really feel us through the music and feel what they’re going through.”
Wild Fire also hopes to influence young women through their music, something they see their own music idols – Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves, to name a couple – doing.
“We have definitely noticed that being a female in music, especially in country music, it’s so difficult. You just go look at the Billboard charts and you can see. But I hope that in our lifetime and career we can push for more females in music and have them be recognized,” Kayla said.
Wild Fire celebrates the release of its new EP Been There at Kemah Boardwalk, 2 p.m. Saturday, April 20. The album is available on major music platforms Friday.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.