Twilight actress Nikki Reed has been singing most of her life. "I've always loved to sing, since I was a little kid," Reed tells Rolling Stone. "I sang in the choir and my mom used to go to all my performances. We sang at malls."
Out of her deep respect for musicians and her insecurities about singing in public, Reed kept the talent a secret for all her years in Hollywood. But once she married musician Paul McDonald, a Season 10 finalist on American Idol, music again became part of her everyday life.
"When Paul and I were living together, organically we would sing in the living room," she says. "Whatever he's doing or singing, I would sing along to."
Now the two of them have taken the next step, recording a five-song EP, The Best Part. Produced by former Uncle Tupelo and Wilco drummer Ken Coomer, the intimate collection feels just like the type of sweet, minimal songs a couple of newlyweds would sing to each other in their living room.
"Our music is based on us and our relationship and writing about and for each other," says Reed.
Her husband agrees: "We wanted to do organic and raw and just feel-good stuff. I'm proud of this EP."
They got some validation when their song "All I've Ever Needed" was included on the soundtrack to the final Twilight film. Sure, Reed might have had a bit of an in with the filmmakers, but the couple claim the track was treated the same as every other submission.
"We don't usually sit down together with a guitar, [but] we did for 'All I've Ever Needed,'" says Reed. "There was a lot of pressure on that, too, because we had to turn it in, so we sat together and really worked through it."
For Reed, having the song on the soundtrack is important because she wants her music to inspire the series' young fans.
"I just think about how important it is to send this message to people – conquering your fears and acknowledging that something is greater than you," she says. "I can say to people, 'Take that artistic side of you and don't be afraid to turn it into something, because look at me – I'm gonna stand up here completely deer-in-headlights.'"
Despite her nerves – as Reed says, "The only way I can perform these songs is blocking everything else out and thinking about just what they mean to me when I'm singing them to Paul" – the two plan to continue making music, including a potential tour.
"We're going to go back in the studio and hopefully do some more songs, because you can't book a tour with 20 minutes worth of material, unless we opened up for somebody," says McDonald. "But yeah, we'd like to [tour], for sure. I want to take her out, put her in a 15-passenger van."
Reed says she's game: "We'll bring a tent, as long as there's room for the dogs."