With instruments, their voices and a vision, two young musicians are showing that life and music are their greatest teachers.
Xylk (pronounced Silk) Lorena, 20, and Angela Abrenica, 20, have two distinct styles of music. They never expected to come together and create a duo: Plaitwrights (pronounced Playwrights).
We recorded in my closet and it was padded with mattress foam
— Xylk Lorena
“We went to Centre Island and she was on her guitar,” Lorena said. “We were at the picnic table and I heard her sing … and I thought I had to get her a mixtape!”
Lorena and Abrenica worked together on various songs before uploading their first YouTube video. The two collaborated and made their first song in 2009. Their time in their makeshift recording studio was a memorable one.
“We recorded in my closet and it was padded with mattress foam,” Lorena said. “It was my best friend’s mom’s mattress and we had to sneak it out and cut it up. Hair was growing out of it. It was hilarious.”
For Abrenica, music was always in her future. She took up independent music at Seneca College.
“For me, ever since I was young I’ve always wanted to imagine [making it big],” Abrenica said. “Xylk would always tell me the whole law of attraction thing and how if you imagine it and if you believe it with your whole heart then the universe will give it to you. Of course I’d like to think that we’re going to go somewhere.”
Coming out of Blessed Cardinal Newman Catholic High School in Scarborough, Lorena saw his music only as a hobby. As his passion grew stronger, he had to make a decision between school and a music career.
“It was difficult to leave [school] but I feel like I learned so much things that I can actually use into music too,” Lorena said. “And the networks that I had from school, I use now to this day. So as cliché as it sounds, everything happens for a reason.”
The spelling for their name, Plaitwrights, also has its reason. Lorena came up with it in his English class.
“I was sleeping in English …. My teacher woke me up and he was like, ‘Playwright,’” Lorena said. “I spelled it out and I wrote it down on my paper and it was p-l-a-y…I wanted it to relate to my name as well where it’s pronounced silk but it’s not spelled silk. So I was like. OK, maybe playwright with p-l-a-i-t and two weeks later my art teacher told me there’s a meaning to that: she said, ‘yeah, it means to braid.’”
Plaitwrights see their name as a representation of their intertwining music styles.
It’s pretty much saying, like, go for your dreams and don’t let anyone take anything away from you
— Angela Abrenica
They have performed in various shows in Toronto. Even though they face challenges such as time management, creating an identity and making it big in the music scene, they are dedicated to pursuing what they are passionate about.
“We’re blessed to have each other,” Lorena said. “It’s easier to be in a duo.”
Their music video, Take, was recently released on YouTube. The song was first written when Abrenica was in high school and faced the judgments of her parents as she was constantly treated “like a kid.”
“It’s pretty much saying, like, go for your dreams and don’t let anyone take anything away from you,” Abrenica said.
Teacups, French conversations and tableaus fill the music video. Though the audience may not understand it at first, every element in the video has a purpose, the duo says.
“First of all, with anything that we do we don’t want to make it easy for anyone,” Lorena said. “Not to say that we want to make it harder but we wanted to make a challenge for them to dig deeper.”
Plaitwrights hope to launch their own EP very soon. The audience can expect live music and a mix of new and past music they have created.
Abrenica says she used what she learned at Seneca but boith say what they have learned through each other has taught them the most about their music.
“We’re our own teachers,” Lorena said. “I feel like she’s one of my professors … the experiences that we give each other are the lessons. In a sense we’re teaching each other. We just wanted to take a different route.”