Sally, Sarah & Les Twins On Why Twins Argue Better Than Anyone Else
Sarah J. Edwards and Sally A. Edwards journey to Paris to spend a day with Laurent and Larry Bourgeois aka Les Twins to discuss the highs and lows of being identical twins.
The duos discover similar experiences of body shaming and body consciousness, playground nicknames, public approach, comedy timing and the hardest part of life as twins.
Interview and Photography Sarah J. Edwards
Art Direction and Styling by Sally A. Edwards
On December 6th 1988, in Sarcelles, Paris, France, Les Twins were born; at 6.44am Laurent Nicolas Bourgeois and at 6.46am Larry Nicolas Bourgeois. In just five short months the babies developed accelerated walking abilities – 10 months ahead of the average new tiny human. Aged only nine years, the boys owned enviable self-taught dance skills, loosely influenced by b-boying, popping and locking, contrasted with ballet. Today their now infamous and original techniques are ever-evolving. Larry and Laurent’s journey so far reads like a checked off wish list: Perform on the streets of Paris and Times Square in New York. Collaborate with Alicia Keys, Missy Elliot, Beyonce and Jay Z. Travel the world. Perform in front of thousands. Make it on international TV. Continue to partake in battles. Put their own Criminalz Crew on the map. Gain mutual respect from some of hip hop’s most notable talents. Sign with Next, shoot with Mario Sorrenti for Vogue Paris, become faces of Rocawear, YSL, Eleven Paris and Hogan. And that’s just for breakfast.
Having carved out an incomparable style on and offstage, Les Twins are a pretty dangerous force to be reckoned with. Consider the following: on their own terms Laurent and Larry consistently compete against one another, in turn nailing performances which frequently label them “the world’s best...” all vastly and eclectically sound tracked, for example, by – our family, Public Enemy’s Don’t Believe The Hype, Wu Tang’s C.R.E.A.M, Gang Starr’s You Know My Steez, Hova’s Somewhere In America to Disclosure, James Blake, James Brown and George Michael - more on this below. They’ve had the chance to gain up-close insight from some of music’s MVPs and share their artistry with students, who fuel off their choreography at the intimate workshops they teach at around the globe – a testament to their passion.
On July 28th at 11.46am in Devon, England Sally A. Edwards was born, at 11.48am it was my turn. Aged four we had advanced drawing skills and were impersonating celebrities. By six further got into art and photography, swam and ran for the county by 11. We too possess our own checked off list of accomplishments: Secretly set up BLAG as a fanzine behind strict parents backs. Left home with £20. Shot with Rankin, GQ, Vogue and Corinne Day - ended up on an iconic record sleeve billboarded across the world. A stint in the music industry each. Got out on the road with Beastie Boys. Made BLAG an international glossy. Secured a book deal. Tag team DJ’d for Pharrell Williams, Red Hot Chili Peppers and James Brown. DJ’s a block-style party with Public Enemy. Curated, Executive Produced and Directed Mercedes Benz very first global music project. And photograph and interview as many culturally relevant musicians, actors and artists as possible - our way. We’ve got more up our sleeves too.
As twins who regularly work together, Sally and I are used to an additional – often humorous – navigation through life, as it provokes a naturally no holds barred inquisitiveness. Stares and pointing, vocalized observations or concern when we aren’t together – no fret, it’s frequent. There’s figuring how to answer remarkably personal questions from perfect strangers and learning to take peculiar comments with a pinch of salt. I do often wonder why I’m yet to nail my comedy timing back. Life as a twin is great. Defining your individuality is rarely an issue and not particularly knowing what each other are thinking, means endless unpredictable chats. You’re born with one of the best friends you could ask for and getting called by your own name is a delight.
With all these experiences, one thing I’ve learnt is to heavily lean on my instincts and listen to my intuition, what my gut is telling me. That feeling for direction is vital when you’re going by your own rules and gunning for goals. While creating recently, I was thinking about where hip hop is at and amongst other artists, Les Twins came into my head. I headed to YouTube and landed on their first Google hangout. It was the only time I’d watched Larry and Laurent talking, I was intrigued and it gave me a fresh view of being a twin. I saw a synergy and recognized Sally and I when watching their dynamic; support often through humour or teasing, annoying or surprising each other. I got really curious about how they handle some of the aforementioned situations exclusive to twins, because sometimes you’re kind of out there on your own, just you and your double. It’s no secret though, there’s something we’re very good at, fighting with and for each other.
It’s a warm and sunny day in Paris, Sally and I have set up base at the beautiful Hotel Marignan located on a quiet street by Champs Élysées. The hotel is the ideal canvas for this photoshoot; a natural environment, inconspicuous, spacious and laid back for two 6’4” performers. Before we knew it, we had somewhat overrun the mellow hum of the streets below, all five huge French windows thrown wide open, revealing a gorgeously sun lit street, warm city air breezing in, music and laughter drifting out turning heads of passers by. Our set up worked brilliantly, because it’s not a typical hotel. The clean design and breathable flow between the rooms meant we could create a story with the relaxed and real shots we wanted. The mission to secure such a venue wasn’t easy, we couldn’t have asked for more and it was through supportive friends and friends of friends we found a home there for the weekend, all of whom we are entirely grateful to.
At just before noon, looking down along rue de Marignan, I spot Laurent gliding towards the hotel balanced on his Solowheel, “Morning!” I call down from the window to him, he looks up grinning, “Hey!”
Moments later inside, shy at first, Laurent is complimenting BLAG in a surprisingly big way, as he turns the pages, his excitement grows seeing more and more actors and musicians he appreciates. Immediately, I’m slightly cautious. We all know flattery will get you everywhere, it’s a simple route to a position of advantage. Passionate and real reigns supreme in our books – so I verbally nudge him, “Really?”
He bursts out “Yes!” and in the process confesses goosebumps at seeing the photography, pulling up his top to reveal a torso covered in cutis anserina. You can’t make that up.
Having made a subtle entrance Larry is now in the building, everyone is sitting around the circular sofa and there’s a relaxed, lively energy. Larry’s equally as upbeat and animated, “That’s my motherfucker!” he exclaims as James McAvoy’s BLAG cover catches his eye, as are Andrew Garfield and Game. It’s not long before several conversations are happening at once and we find ourselves spending the afternoon talking non- stop with laughter on repeat.
To create a genuine collaboration between the four of us, we worked together on styling, photography set ups, pictures and edits – additional props to Larry for his t-shirt customizing dexterity. Les Twins are totally au fait with English having learnt road hard over the past few years and even drop a few impersonations of our accents. Just as we begin shooting, Laurent stops the music and puts on George Micheal’s 1984 ballad ‘Careless Whisper’ and waxes lyrical about his voice, later they will use the track to open their World Of Dance performances. In fact throughout the afternoon Larry and Laurent make subtle exchanges to each other noting ideas, which figures how they consistently bring new creativity considering their jam packed travel schedule. It’s spending time with them you realise they’re kind of a dream team; tenacious, charismatic and great company off-the-bat. They bring a juxtaposition I like – they’re humour driven, open minded, style conscious, with a touch of rebellion, hip hop roots and eclecticism.
By pooling their experiences, creativity, resources and self-made standards, it’ll be exciting to see how these two go getters expand their creative oeuvre as artists... Now. Ready for some twin chat?
After our shoot, Larry, Laurent, Sally and I are now seated together outside on the penthouse terrace. Here’s what happened...
Sarah: My observations were that we have some similarities and I got really intrigued, so that’s why I reached out to you.
Laurent: How should I be looking, at you, there? [Turns head in several directions]
Larry: You look wherever you want.
Sarah: [Smiling] Well, it’s usually polite to look at who you’re speaking to. [Laughs]
Laurent: I guess, yeah. [Pauses] Sometimes.
Sarah: [Laughing] Brilliant. Ok, can you, introduce each other including best traits, most noticeable habit and move you wish you nailed first?
~I’m totally happy to confess, having literally put my cameras down I did completely spoil asking the question.
Larry: It’s funny, your question. [Adopts robot voice] You. Sound. Like. A. Robot. Can. You. Stop. Reading. And. Ask. Me. The. Question. Again.
Sarah: [Laughing] Can you introduce yourselves with most noticeable habit...
Laurent: This is Larry.
Sarah: [Laughs] And the move Larry nailed that you wish you did.
Laurent: [Looking straight at Larry] I don’t even know.
Laurent: [With arms straight forward and palms open, smiling] But this is Larry.
Sarah: Ok, Larry’s most noticeable habit.
Laurent: [Laughs and looks to the ground, while Larry looks straight faced] Moves?
Sarah: [Smiling] Yes, or just a habit.
Laurent: [Smiling] Ah, no. Not that one! [Laughs] He has many moves though. [Pauses] Oh! [Shakes head around multiple times]
Sarah: [Smiling to Larry] Yes?
Larry blows a raspberry.
Everyone laughs except Larry, who continues with a subtle smile, as if to say, I can take whatever you say.
Sarah: [Smiling to Larry] Ok, your turn.
Larry: Laurent, he do like, [pauses with eyes closed and hand over mouth, faces Laurent] something you do all the time? And I forget it [laughs, with his head in his hand] Ah wait! This, this. [Leans down and shakes head while rubbing hands on his hair, laughing] Every time!
Laurent: [Smiling] Ah man! Come on man! You cannot. That’s kind of copying me, man.
Larry: [Laughing] No! You do that every time! Every time! [Demonstrates again]
Laurent: That guy...
Larry: That’s what you’re doing.
The original story was first published in BLAG Vol. 3 Nø 5 print edition in 2015.
Become a member to continue reading this feature and all of BLAG's fun and uplifting iconic content including interviews, online exhibitions and Originals.