Who The Hell Are Twin City?

Who The Hell Are Twin City?

By Ivan GuzmanApr 09, 2024

On TikTok, there are these two sisters who dress up in shimmery, retro-futuristic jumpsuits. They embellish their cyberpop get-ups with chunky chrome platform boots, grab their wired microphones and backdrop, and head out to various tourist spots in New York City to perform their songs.

Some clips feel like a fever dream. In Herald Square, a crowd gathers by the train station as the girls bounce around and sing their single, “Like a Rocket.” On other days, they bring their “surprise micro-show #5” to Madison Square Park, where they belt and do full choreography for bystanders. Comments range in their critiques of the performances: “Is this satire,” says one user. “You can’t keep getting away with this,” says another, or, “It’s giving middle school talent show.” Others give into the Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century-esque fantasy: “I’m starting to stan.”

This duo is Twin City, the musical brainchild of 26-year-old twin sisters Bhavani and Anjali Pitti. Born of Indian and German descent, the two were raised in a secluded environment in Westchester, New York, attending a German school their whole childhood which had a graduating class of 22 people.

“We were really shy as kids,” Anjali tells PAPER. “When we were very young, we would literally only talk to each other. And then slowly, other people would try to befriend us and we would have to respond and interact. That’s how we got out of our shells.”

This in-house mentality is probably why their approach to music is so compelling. There’s an aura to Twin City that feels special and intriguing, though at times maybe a little bit awkward. Their wide-eyed stares and robotic sensibilities signal toward a future that is dominated by artificial intelligence, and it’s something that they’re hyper-aware of. “We definitely like AI, but in responsible ways,” says Bhavani. “Yeah, we’re definitely very into emerging technologies,” Anjali adds.

The proof is in the pudding. Last year, the duo’s “Like a Rocket” music video made headlines for its use of groundbreaking XR technology that had, at the time, only been used in a handful of major TV and movie productions like Game of Thrones and The Mandalorian. Essentially, the production teams combined an LED wall with a green screen cyclorama, which created real-time in-camera virtual reality effects. “It was all shot in one room,” Anjali says. “We presented the idea and script with our production team, and they were like, ‘Okay, this is different, we have a lot to do here.’”

​In other ways, Twin City is very much focused on the analog, self-plastering their promotional posters all around Downtown New York. “We’re huge into offline marketing because it’s less saturated,” Bhavani tells me. “It’s a great way to network, and people recognize us from them. When we go out, people will be like, ‘Oh my God, are you the girls from the poster?’” They’re also classically-trained musicians, playing violin and piano, and they perform constantly in underground clubs like The Bitter End, just like their idol Lady Gaga did when she first started out. “She was always so different, and we found that really intriguing.”

It’s this mixture of DIY values with pie-in-the-sky ambitions that makes Twin City a fascinating case study in the pursuit of modern-day stardom. In many ways, the duo harkens back to a bygone era where up-and-coming pop stars actually put in the work, paid their dues, had a vision and were in full control of all the aspects — choreography, vocal composition, self-promotion — that it took to achieve their dreams.

The pandemic was a catalyst for the sisters, who were both working in finance at the time but were hit with an industry-wide hiring freeze once COVID hit. “I was songwriting under my desk at work, recording melodies into my voice memos,” Anjali says. Naturally, the duo decided to start a YouTube channel, where their German cover of Billie Elish’s “Bad Guy” started to gain some traction. From there, the only way seemed to be up, and the fantastical persona of Twin City was born.

It is performance art, in a way. To make a Lady Gaga comparison again, the duo taps into the singer’s early The Fame era ethos, taking internalized fame and projecting this energy out into the world to make it a reality. Their latest single, “Bubblegum,” is another high-concept production about a fictitious social media app called “On Tha Clock'' that the girls are forced to participate in instead of being ‘real’ artists. Last month, they were even on American Idol, chatting it up with Ryan Seacrest in their signature latex jumpsuits. “There’s always only one person that goes on,” they tell me. “From the beginning, [the producers] asked us a lot of questions about whether we’d compete against each other.”

The girls aren’t interested. “We’re in this together,” they reiterate. Though they didn’t end up making the televised edit of Idol, it was still another experience to add to the Twin City story. For now, the duo is focused on putting out more music and getting their name out there through their signature guerilla marketing methods. They even want to go on a national tour this summer.

“We’re just doing our own thing, and doing things our way,” they tell me. Who knows — before we know it Twin City might just blast off.

Photography: Austin Hein