Exclusive Q & A with Our West Coast SISTERS
July 20, 2018
Senior Writer: Kamilah McLeod
1. What is the concept behind your group name Sisters?
A: I thought of it sitting at my kitchen table before I had approached Emily about playing music together. It kinda started out as a joke and then it became more and more true.
E: The future is female.
2. How long have you been in the music business?
A: I played my first paid gig in Homer, Alaska in the summer of 2002 at Alice's Champagne Palace. Emily and I played there together as SISTERS last summer and it felt like a triumphant return.
E: I used to write my own songs and record my own backing tracks when i was around 11 years old. I played a few local music festivals at that time and got a tiny amount of radio play! I’ve basically plateaued since then.
3. Who are some of your musical influences?
A: I am finally digging into Carly Rae Jepson's Emotion album and the production is pretty fire. I think Solange's A Seat At The Table is one of the most important records to come out in the last 20 years and SZA's Ctrl is right up there for me. The singers I've learned the most from are probably Donny Hathaway, Steve Winwood, Peter Gabriel and Jeff Buckley.
E: Any tabla music, Ravel, Motown, Beatles, St. Vincent
4. What is Sisters doing to actively create a world that is safe for everyone?
A: I would say by acknowledging how systems of oppression affect folx intersectionally. All I can do as a white straight cis male is to believe the experiences of folx who are historically targets of oppression and derive empathy from listening to those experiences and do my research on how to actively combat those systems within my power as a white man. I was actually just saying to my wife that white people who are embarrassed about their whiteness and don't know what to do with the shame of being white can take pride in the fact that they are bestowed with the privilege (and resultant obligation) to enter spaces that people of color or of different sexual orientations or other-bodied can't go or won't be heard and use their privilege and voice to spread a message of inclusivity. This was in reference to a post I saw going around about how it is the obligation of white people to yell aloud, for all to hear, the rights that immigrants have when facing ICE checkpoints or officers.
E: We stress inclusivity at every turn. We just live and perform in a way that emphasizes we’re all the same humans and we all want the same basic things and love.
5. How many instruments do you play and what are they?
A: saxophone, flute, clarinet, piano/keys/synth, guitar, bass, percussion, just enough drums to make you miss Emily playing the drums when I play the drums on stage with SISTERS
E: orchestral percussion, drums, piano, bass, guitar, vibes, marimba, tabla
6. Were you musically trained or self- taught to play instruments?
A: I was trained to sing and on woodwinds; everything else is generally self-taught because music is music.
E: A lot of both
7. What did you do to prepare yourself for touring?
A: I bought a yoga mat
E: Many dog snuggles
8. What were the inspirations behind the songs that you write?
A: mostly about all different kinds of love, longing, and belonging.
E: What he said 👆
9. What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue this career?
A: Nothing is precious (this coming from a serial perfectionist) - try everything out and release content as if the robots will replace artists tomorrow.
E: Try and have very specific goals to reach and keep them reasonable and don’t skip any steps. Don’t over-extend yourself and lose clarity and direction, but consider any interesting opportunities no matter how random they seem.
10. What do we have to look forward to hearing and seeing from you?
A: we will be returning to Europe in Oct/Nov and we'll have a follow-up EP of remixes of songs from Wait Don't Wait and some new material coming out in early 2019.
E: Gang vocals and fashion