The members of Dean St. recorded their first EP in 10 hours.
The EP was the sibling duo’s first venture into the professional music world, following an impromptu music contest that turned the siblings into bandmates.
Caleb and Ella Burns were preparing to move into their new home on Dean Street in Tustin, California, when a friend of theirs asked them to participate in a competition called “Acoustic Off.” Although the duo only performed covers of songs by Mumford and Sons and Elvis Presley, they won the competition, which came with the prize of a recording studio session. The 10-hour session led to the formation of their band Dean St. and the release of their EP “A Long Road Home” on Oct. 31.
The EP features Caleb Burns, a first-year psychobiology student, singing and playing the piano, bass and ukulele. Burns said he also writes most of the songs the duo performs and comes up with melodies and chords while going about his day. From there, Burns develops the tunes on a piano and writes lyrics that take inspiration from his personal experiences and his relationship with God.
“My relationship with God is the single most important thing to me, so of course it’s going to shine through in my music,” he said. “I went through hard times, which God has helped me overcome, and I want to share that God is really, really good.”
After combining lyrics and instrumentals, Burns shares the new song with his sister, Ella Burns, who plays guitar and sings. The high school junior at Spirit Christian Academy said even though her brother writes all of the songs, she relates to his lyrics and enjoys singing his songs because they come from a place close to both of them.
“It might be because we grew up in the same household and that we both find inspiration in God,” she said. “They’re his own songs, but he’s never written something I’ve been uncomfortable to perform.”
Her favorite song off the EP, “You and I,” demonstrates Caleb Burn’s relationship with God and his religion, Ella Burns said. The number is hopeful and reassuring, and features the lyric, “You and I will always be together even when we try to chase our own endeavors,” showing that God will always be there with him in life, she said.
The pair’s religious inspiration and sibling relationship also affect the way they work as bandmates. The duo has been singing together since they were kids and led church worship together in high school. Burns said because her brother continually encourages her to develop her talent, like hitting high notes, the band’s creative process lacks major arguments and disputes.
“Bands break up because they don’t get along, but I love my brother to death,” she said. “We know that we’re never going to let a dispute over music get in the way between us.”
Brittan Burns, Caleb Burns and Ella Burns’ father, said “You and I,” the last song on the album, showcases his children’s complementary musical abilities and relationship. The duo’s harmonies bounce off each other naturally, creating a soothing and calming song, he said.
“It’s awesome knowing that this song is the result of either (Ella Burns) or (Caleb Burns) singing in the shower as the other walks down the hallway harmonizing, too,” he said.
Shannon Burns, the siblings’ mother, said she could easily relate to the group’s song “A Better Man,” and its lyrics about wanting to be a better person. The mix of the lyrics and her children’s voices speaks to her Christian values since it emphasizes looking to God for help when trying to do the right thing, she said. In the song, her son first sings, “I’m going to beat it,” followed by her daughter’s smooth voice saying, “Don’t try to save yourself on your own.”
“I think people can understand the meaningful message regardless of religion or point of view in life,” she said. “It’s really beautiful and rewarding to see my children not only work together but be positively received for the art they produce.”
Caleb Burns said his close relationship with his sister is an integral part of their creative process. He added he feels fortunate to collaborate with her and looks forward to seeing how their relationship evolves.
“I love the fact that we can work on this together because it’s so rewarding to work with someone who will always have your back,” he said. “(Producing the EP) brought us together and allowed us to deepen our already close relationship.”