Indieterria meets RATS

Dear Readers,

Periodically, we say on the blog that these are amazing times for indie circuit – the amount of talented artists, great singles and memorable albums is astonishing. But then you hear band like RATS and it hits you with full force. Forget the 90s rock surge or noughties` garage rock triumphs –   the real revival of rock scene happens here and now. And we are all to witness it.

We are very happy to sit down with Liverpool`s finest to speak to them about their music, supporting their heroes and being described by the press as a band that you must know.

Ladies and Gents of the indie scene: RATS!

Band logo

Hello RATS! How are you guys? Please introduce yourselves to the readers of Indieterria!

RATS: Alright! We’re Joe Maddocks (vocals), Mikey Duncalf (lead guitar), Sam Taylor (bass) and Harry Maitland (drums).

Despite the bad PR, rats are one of the most intelligent animals on our planet. They are the masters of survival, family orientated creatures and great pets. What decided that the band took on this particular name? We are also wondering why the name is written in capital letters?

RATS:  We were all doing our own thing when our manager found us and decided to put us together, we swerved so many bands to be in this one that we decided to call ourselves RATS before anyone else got the chance to! I think we used capital letters because it looks fucking massive. That’s about it.

The band formed in Liverpool at the end of 2016 but two years later, you have relocated to Suffolk. Are you still based there or are you back in the Pool?

RATS : Nah, we sort of live wherever we land, we’re always travelling and moving about!

You have supported some of the music heavyweights: The Libertines, Space, The Happy Mondays. Tell us, how does it feel to share the stage with your heroes?

RATS: It’s all been a bit mental as our second gig ever was supporting Happy Mondays which was insane. Space were class lads too!

Liverpool Echo described you as one of the bands to watch next to Red Rum Club, Spinn, Circa Waves and She Drew The Gun. That’s some company to keep. How do you feel being tipped as the “next big thing”? Does it invigorates you or puts you under pressure?

RATS: To be spoken about like we are at the moment is crazy. We’ve only been going a year and a half/ 2 years so to have the support and feedback that we’re currently getting is just insane. We’ve been compared to Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian and all the rest so it’s just one of those jaw dropping things to hear.

RATS are considered to be one of the hottest bands on the indie circuit at the moment. Photo by Chris Driver https://www.facebook.com/chrisdriverphoto

Your debut single “Weekend” came out in 2018 and gathered over 150 000 streams on Spotify. You followed with “Figure It Out” on February 14th this year and quickly broke 10 000 streams. Breaking record after record seems to come easy for you. What can we expect from your next release? Do you have anything in the pipeline?

RATS: We reckon our next single could be the biggest yet! We have a very special guest featuring on the track with us! It’s one of our favourite songs to play so we really hope everyone loves hearing it as much as we’ve enjoyed making it. Our next single is coming this summer! You heard it here first!

Recently RATS have participated in qualifications for inMusic Festival organized by Northern Exposure and ended up in the final six. You had a chance to perform at the legendary venue The Cavern Club. It is a dream of generations of musicians to play that stage and you made it a reality.  Being on the same stage as The Beatles must have left an impression.

RATS : Oh aye, amazing venue! Some of us have played there before but it’s always such a moment to walk on that stage!

Ready to take over

The summer festival season looks really exciting for you with big gigs booked at Truck Festival, Isle of Wight, Bardfest and Tramlines. Do you have any other appearances booked that you’d like to announce now? Here’s your chance!

RATS: We cannot wait for this summer! We’re headlining the Introducing stage at L37 Festival this year as well! We have another couple to announce but we can’t say anything yet!

 UK  just celebrated Mental Health Awareness week. As touring artists – what in your opinion should be taken into consideration to make things better for artists?

RATS: Lots actually. Mental health issues are an epidemic in this industry, we think it’s because the industry at the top just want to make money from you instead of trying to protect the craft and creativity. We need to all remember what’s important, if you’re feeling under pressure then it’s IMPORTANT to talk about stuff with your mates or that person who’ll listen y’know.

RATS – photography by Chris Driver https://www.facebook.com/chrisdriverphoto

Last, (in)famous question: let’s say you can get away with the biggest guitar heist of the century. What gear are you nicking and who’s going to miss an axe or two?

RATS : If it’s a heist then the whole lot is goin’!

You  can follow the band on socials:

https://www.facebook.com/officialrats/
https://www.instagram.com/themrats/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqTTVuC0BNxvjX387BFiCIg

 

Alternatively you can  contact the band via email: Harry@wisrrecords.com

Or their management page: https://www.facebook.com/wisrmgmt

We will be eagerly awaiting RATS new single and their summer appearances. Surely this band will make return to Indieterria in the new future and we are adding seeing them live onto our bucket list.

Love good music,

Mal+Rita

Indieterria meets Sahera Walker

Sahera Walker interview

Known as the Queen of Underground Scene in London, Sahera Walker is one of the most respected independent promoters working on the DIY scene. Her passion, music knowledge and intuition have been praised on numerous occasions and were recognized by industry professionals. Indieterria is following young, successful females who are taking the music business by storm and continue to change the industry rules. We have sat down with Sahera to discuss her zine, modern alternative music and her ambitious plans to turn Cafe 1001 into a hub of music, fashion and counter-culture.

Sahera Walker

Bio: Sahera is 20 year old music journalist based in East London, and she is the creative-owner of Indie Underground Blog

She started blogging in 2016, which is when she first set up her blogging site. She has since gone on to work in PR & live music, and now owns Some Might Say Magazine, and is the lead booker for live music events at Café 1001 on Brick Lane. She runs gigs for her magazine at Nambucca in Islington & The Five Bells in New Cross.

Indie Underground & Some Might Say have received support from BBC Radio 6, Flying Vinyl, Clue Records, This Feeling, The Truman Brewery, The Zine UK, Clash Magazine, 1234 Records, Roadkill Records, ArtBeats Promo, Coda Agency, Devil PR, and more. The digital and physical platforms Sahera runs all have one aim; to promote underground DIY music, and support creatives within the industry by printing, reviewing, and featuring their work. Always keen to work with new artists, Indie Underground is a growing platform which has gained an impeccable reputation for scouting new acts who go on to be huge within the indie industry

Sahera also works as a freelance photographer & journalist, focusing solely on DIY indie rock, psych rock, grunge, and post punk music

Promoter, PR professional, zine editor, writer, journalist – it’s hard to believe that one person can do it all. Who is Sahera Walker? Please introduce yourself to the readers of our blog.

Some Might Say zine promotional picture

Sahera Walker: Very kind of you! So my name is Sahera, I’m 20 years old, and I’m a music journalist and promoter based in East London. I’m the creative owner and editor of Some Might Say Zine and Indie Underground Blog, running launch parties for each zine that comes out. I have recently taken over the Live Bookings and PR for a new DIY space on Brick Lane too!

You created “Some Might Say” zine at the age of 18. Was there any specific reason why you decided to start a musical magazine?

Sahera Walker:  I really love the DIY authenticity of rock music, and to me there’s something really special about flicking through a physical print publication, and just seeing all the beautiful photos and art pieces in print, and soaking up new musical knowledge. I really love that vibe, and I wanted to bring that authenticity back into an industry where mainstream magazines are either dying out, or turning to conventional pop music instead. I used to love NME but they sold themselves out years ago, so I suppose I wanted to create my own print publication with no sponsors or external funding, its sole aim to promote fresh upcoming new music.

So far “Some Might Say” published five issues and the sixth one will be released shortly. What can we find in the newest edition?

Sahera Walker: It will be available to purchase by the end of May/ very start of June, via somemightsay.org. This Issue has taken months to work on, as it’s taking Some Might Say down a slightly more creative and unconventional route, so I hope the wait will be worth it!

Alongside with the zine, you run a popular music blog Indie Underground focusing on rock, post punk and DIY scene. In your opinion, how important is support from blogs and magazines for up and coming artists?

Sahera Walker: To me, it’s absolutely vital. The music industry is made into the thriving and vibrant scene that it is through DIY support, from people who love music and want to work, often for free, to promote and support new music. That’s where fans of bands end up becoming journalists, photographers, promoters, and bloggers, inspiring a real love and passion into their work. This supportive DIY scene is probably the most important thing for new bands, as without them who is going to fuel the underground music scene?

Several issues of Some Might Say magazine

You have put bands such as Yonaka, Calva Louise, False Heads or most recently Black Midi on many people’s radars. What captures your attention when it comes to indie bands? How do you recognize the “next big thing”?

Sahera Walker:  I do try! I think I was very lucky, when I got into music aged about 17 it was when bands like Yonaka, The Blinders, Strange Bones, Calva Louise, and False Heads were all starting out (the last three I’ve had play Some Might Say gigs for me, which I’m very proud of!), so I just naturally saw them at small venues playing to tiny handfuls of people. For me, I like unconventional bands that are passionate and exciting, and it just has to click in a special way for me to go crazy about a band. This doesn’t happen too often, as it’s more of a feeling you get from certain bands – it’s very special though, and all the bands you mentioned are ones who really gripped and excited me when I discovered them.

Gig goers often ask what they can do to help bands, something beyond buying a tee from the merch store. Would you have any suggestions?

Sahera Walker: I think going to gigs is the most important thing, as it supports not only the bands, but also the small venues and promoters who are hosting the gigs, which is fundamental to the scene as a whole. Bands that have a strong live following as well are the ones who end up being hotly tipped by journalists, on the radio, and then eventually scouted by agents and managers, so going to gigs really helps. But even the small things like social media posts, buying merch, streaming and downloading music; it all helps, and I know they mean massive amounts to the bands.

In April 2019, you joined Cafe 1001 as their official promoter and PR. Tell us more about this place. What can it offer to the emerging bands?

Sahera Walker: So Café 1001 is a venue space in Shoreditch, just opposite Rough Trade East. We are currently undergoing a really exciting refurbishment and rebrand in the venue, which will change the name and appearance into something a lot more DIY. We’re taking the venue down a more creative, subculture-philosophy inspired route, and alongside the gigs (focusing on indie/punk/grime/grunge) we want to have a lot of new DJs playing with us too. What we’re offering bands is payed gigs, in a fantastic DIY 200 capacity space, with a state of the arts PA and backline system. I also run PR campaigns and social media campaigns for my live events, so bands would be fully supported by us.

Some Might Say logo at legendary London Club, Nambucca

You are known for coming up with groundbreaking ideas. Your newest one is to create a rotating exhibition aimed at avant-garde DIY artists, music zine makers, live music photographers and designers. Can you provide us with more information about it? How long will it last? will artists be able to sell their works?

Sahera Walker:  Given the DIY subculture philosophy we are implementing, I came up with the idea of running a rotating exhibition in the venue’s front room. We will have art work, photos (art based, film, portrait, and live music), and film reels on display, as well as zines in the venue. The idea is to have a launch night (June 27th) with live music to accompany, and this will be a chance for the creatives involved to network and sell their work. We will then keep some of the work up in the venue, and keep the zines in the café space for people to browse through during the day. Then every three months, we will run another exhibition, where we can refresh the art and photos we have, and bring in some new zines to the space

Let’s play! You are given a whole page in The Guardian for a music column. What bands are you recommending to the public?

Sahera Walker: So many, I could write you pages on this! I’d have to narrow it down to Black Country New Road, The Murder Capital, Weird Milk, Kid Kapichi, Fontaines DC, Uncle Tesco, Legss, Happy Hour, Pip Blom, False Heads, Squid, Haze, LICE, Avalanche Party, Strange Bones, Calva Louise and JW Paris. Just a quick note, when I spoke earlier about those rare special bands who I just click with – Kid Kapichi are my current obsession, and I would recommend them highly.

The last question (but very important one). If any artist or musician wants to get in touch – how can they reach you?

Sahera Walker: I have contact forms on my websites which are usually the best shout to play a gig at my new venue:
https://indieunderground.blog/play-for-us/,

Send your submissions to:
https://indieunderground.blog/contact/
https://somemightsay.org/contact/

Or any London based bands, you can usually find me at a scatty punk gig in Camden or Brixton, so feel free to come up and say hi!

You can follow Sahera on socials:
https://www.facebook.com/sahera.walker/
https://www.instagram.com/youareallslaves/
https://twitter.com/sahera_walker
https://open.spotify.com/user/1143822162
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCssXbu_GT0ZU47I8xUmXEdw

https://www.instagram.com/somemightsayzine/
https://somemightsay.org/
https://www.facebook.com/somemightsayzine/

https://indieunderground.blog/
https://www.facebook.com/indieundergroundblog/

Articles:
http://northern-exposure.co/interview-sahera-walker-some-might-say/
https://www.thezineuk.co.uk/2019-futurepicks-the-music-people-on-and-off-stage/

The new issue of “Some Might Say” will land in a couple of days so don’t forget to order your copy. Supporting local zines, magazines and independent artists is vital for the scene to survive. Indieterria will keep shining light at the people behind the music – promoters, event managers, club owners, streaming services companies, radio DJ’s and hosts, photographers, managers or music scouts – they all are working in the background helping artists move from one level of their careers to another. They are essential yet they are rarely getting any credits or thanks. Let’s bring them into limelight!

Please stay tuned as we have something special planned very soon!

XXX
R+M

Indieterria meets The Empty Page

Hello again!

Let’s start with a riddle. Do you know what Frank Zappa and John Peel have in common? They both thought that the music business became too safe and too predictable. The thrill of making something exciting, the unknown and the chance of everything going awry that characterized the music-making for generations suddenly disappeared. The stimulating and (sometimes) dangerous game turned into a polished and ironed showcase for pop princesses and boy bands. And it slowly started leaking into the rock and roll, turning rebels and their muses into fashionistas and influencers buying shoes and belts.

Luckily for us and certain old school radio DJ’s, there is always an underdog band that comes out of nowhere and rescues the day. Our musical saviours are raw, energetic and completely independent. And they come from Manchester! We have sat down with the Mancunian trio, the Empty Page, few days before their gig at the Dead Dead Good Weekend on 11th of May to discuss their beginnings (in an old and cold warehouse), having a female lead singer and their plans for a glorious future.

Official bio:

Taking their name from a Sonic Youth song which in turn was inspired by Jack Kerouac, 90s alt-punk inspired Northerners The Empty Page have been making steady headway since their inception in a draughty warehouse in Ancoats, Manchester. Following an invite from rock production royalty Gggarth Richardson (RATM, Biffy Clyro, Melvins), their debut album, ‘Unfolding’ was recorded with him in Vancouver, Canada, with tracks receiving national airplay by the likes of Steve Lamacq on 6 Music and receiving praise from the underground press. As well as diligently ticking their favourite UK venues off their collective wish list, from Manchester Ritz to Hebden Bridge Trades, the band went back to Canada to play shows in Toronto after winning Indie Week UK. Carefully selected UK shows are planned for 2019.

The Empty Page picture by A supremeshot

The Empty Page are:
Giz (guitars)
Jim (drums and vocals)
Kel (bass and vocals)

You are described as a band that combines guitar noise with Northern charm. Please introduce yourself to readers of Indieterria.

Kel: I’m Kel, I play bass and sing and write the words.
Jim: I’m Jim, I play drums and sing
Giz: And  I’m Giz and I play guitar

We have heard some incredible stories about how bands came to be. But meeting in a cold warehouse must be one of the best tales so far. What were a trio of rock musicians doing on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Manc?

Jim: A friend of ours had this weird room in a freezing cold mill in Manchester full of instruments and recording gear. Full. You couldn’t move. Anyway, we needed somewhere to rehearse and record. It really was freezing. We could barely get through a full song it was that cold so in the end we started to set fire to our gear for warmth. Shame really because those songs were brilliant but we’ll never remember them, just how cold we were. Also it was quite a cheap room! (laughing)

The Empty page started to turn heads almost immediately after its conception. Your demos “The Ancoats Sessions” were heard by producer Garth “GGGarth” Richardson who worked with The Melvins and Rage Against the Machine – and he invited the band to his studio in Canada to work on your debut album “Unfolding”. It was released in 2016. Please tell us how do you remember your collaboration with Richardson?

Jim: The guy is wonderful. He’s thoughtful, respectful, he knows everything about music yet he always listens to what you want. He’s ridiculously funny but my god his “Northern” accent is dreadful! (laughs)

Kel: It was the best time. So great to lock ourselves away in a cabin in the middle of nowhere and focus on music 24/7 while drinking lots of Canadian craft beer and listening to stories of legendary musicians which we’re not allowed to repeat. We’d love to go back and record with him again but it’s just logistics really.

In February this year, you released “When The Cloud Explodes” produced by local duo Sugar House. The album, according to your page, is inspired by Northern cities like Liverpool and Manchester. Did you plan to have your new record produced locally, as if in opposition to the first one that was created so far away from home?

Kel: No, not really. We just made a decision to try a different way of putting music out there this time. We wanted to take each song individually and release it as its own thing. I do think it made sense to record that song in a humdrum town in the North though, and it doesn’t get much more humdrum than St Helens. The recording process was very different from what we did with GGGarth, we had more time for a start. So, we came out with something sounding quite different from what we have done before. Our plan now is to release a series of individual songs over the year, produced by different people and all quite distinct from one another musically. People keep asking about an album, but for now, we’re doing things step by step. Maybe an album will come later.

Let’s talk about the excellent video to you shot for the song. It was filmed in Manchester and directed by Jason Weidner, who worked previously with Desperate Journalist and Stonehouse Jack. You have also recruited two contemporary/urban dancers named Max and Chiara. How did you convince them to star in your video? What is the message behind it?

 

Kel: Jo from Desperate Journalist suggested Jason when we were looking to shoot a video at quite short notice, to cut a long and boring back story short. We hit it off right away and got planning. We’d had an idea to include dancing somehow and had been through lots of ambitious ideas, then, in the end, we decided to keep it quite simple. Jason is extremely skilled at editing and he did a brilliant job. Max got involved through a friend of ours named Bundy who we have known for years on the punk scene as he’s drummed in lots of punk bands including The Business. Max works in Bundy’s brilliant little punk bar, The Salty Dog in Northwich, so he suggested him when I put a call out for dancers. Then we asked Max if he knew anyone else and when he suggested his girlfriend Chiara. And it seemed perfect to have them star as a young couple just hanging out. They were absolute troopers. It was a hot day as you can see and we had them dance over and over again in different locations till they pretty much collapsed on the grass in Hulme Park. But they’re young and fit and they loved it. We had such a fun day together.

The song, in a nutshell, is just about the beauty of creativity. Whether that’s writing songs, making art, poetry, knitting, dancing or whatever. It’s one of the most wonderful things we have as humans and I really think it’s a lifesaver. We didn’t want to be too literal with the video, so we thought dancing would be a nice visual expression of the joys of creative freedom.

Jim: I think we filmed the whole thing on Valentine’s Day too, so once they’d finished and got their breath back, they were straight off out for a romantic date. They probably went down the arcade or to the fair or whatever fit young dancers like to go. Stock car racing? Something like that!

We can’t stop salivating over the vinyl edition of “When The Cloud Explodes” – 7 inch, released on orange wax, limited to just 330 copies. It looks unreal. Are there any copies left and if so – where can the record be purchased? Asking for a friend…

The band photographed by A supremeshot

Kel: It’s sold out on the Rough Trade website twice now, they will be restocking soon. We have some in a few record shops like Jumbo in Leeds and others, and it will be in Piccadilly Records in Manchester very soon. We are selling it on our website (theemptypageband.com) and Bandcamp as well and we will have some for sale at upcoming gigs. It’s selling really fast though, well over half gone, so I wouldn’t hang around!

Kel, a question especially for you. You gave an extensive interview to Louder Than War in 2016. You said: “I think more women should play music, because there is still a heavy trend towards males on stage at gigs, but more importantly women should just be able to do it without having to be scrutinised so much in every way.” Has the situation improved in the last three years? Are organizations such as Safe Gigs for Women really making a difference?

Kel: (deep breath) I’ve been in bands for a really, really long time and I’ve always felt I had to work a bit harder just to be treated with respect as a musician and songwriter and not just considered a “girl singer” (like it’s some kind of gimmick) or putting up with comments about my appearance rather than the actual music. I remember many moons ago, some bloke actually saying to me that they were thinking of “getting a girl singer” for their band as it was a good thing image-wise. I was furious then in my teens and I am as furious now at that attitude. There have always been women in guitar bands but I think there have been more women getting involved and getting a platform in the past few years. This has been the result of a lot of different factors including the issues relating to inequality in this industry (and in general) being openly talked about more. Women haven’t always been as welcomed, celebrated and treated as equally as they are now in the UK music scene but I think we still have a way to go and it’s complicated.

One thing that has helped is more promoters putting together representative bills. Women don’t need to be sidelined into only playing “female only” band nights. Don’t get me wrong. There are people doing that well and for the right reasons in the name of shifting the balance and being representative, and crucially this is usually done in an inter-sectional way. Power to those people. But there are others (yes, often if not always blokes) still doing that in an awful, gimmicky, frankly pervy way. Like “check out these chicks with guitars, pfwoooarr”. As a woman,  you have to be careful about which gigs you say yes to. I have been caught out in the past where the gig has seemed like a normal booking and then nearer the time, it has turned out to be something else. You have to be quite vigilant, which is really annoying when you just want to play. But there are lots of bills now that are just generally more representative. I like playing with a mix of bands that are similar to us musically and I like it even better if there is an intersectional representation of humans on that bill. Nobody likes to be tokenised.

Safe Gigs For Women are doing great things for audience safety and it’s essential that women and non-cis males who attend shows are not made to feel threatened or treated disrespectfully. These are slightly different but related issues. It’s all part of an ongoing fight and we also have to remember that this is not just a fight here in the UK but around the world. Feminism is worthless if it does not aim to make things fairer for all women all over the world. There is a long way to go.

You jokingly say that you are on world tour of Yorkshire this year, but you have scoped some amazing gig opportunities. You supported Desperate Journalist in March at The Deaf Institute and in May you will share the stage with The Wildhearts in Scarborough. You will also make an appearance at Dead Dead Good Weekend in Manchester and at Camden Rocks in London. What can be expected from your live shows?

Jim: A fucking good show. We throw everything we have into them. We have fun!

You have hinted on your social media that the coming months will be very busy for the band. What can we expect in the nearest future?

Kel: (laughing) More shows and more releases! Our next single, “He’s Very Good At Swimming” is coming out on June 28th accompanied by a video by Debbie Ellis/asupremeshot. It’s a song with an important subject: victim blaming, and the way the media (and arguably the justice system) foregrounds the academic and sporting achievements of the accused and picks apart every aspect of the victim’s life and lifestyle when writing about rape cases almost all the time.

Last question – you can steal one record made by a band that inspired you. Whose work is so good you’d claim it as your own?

Jim: For me it would be “The Holy Bible” by Manic Street Preachers
Kel: Yes, that and Fontaines DC  – “Dogrel”

You can follow the band at their socials:
https://theemptypageband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thmptypg/
https://twitter.com/thmptypg
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRvo9IV6VKi6HRdzJRXwawA

The Empty Page will be touring a lot this summer and we can expect a lot of dates to be added to their calendar. Outside for the Dead Dead Good Weekend in Northwich, the band is booked to play Leeds on the 18th of May at CHUNK and Camden Rocks Festival in London in June. Catch them for an unforgettable lesson in independent rock and rolling. With a huge dose of unspoiled, unfiltered fun.

See you soon!
xoxxo
R+M

Indieterria meets Sybling

Hello!  

It is a music journalist’s privilege to speak to some of the most talented people in the world. Some of the artists might be living just two doors down from you, or in the same town, but some of them might be located at the other side of the pond. Not so long ago, we had an undeniable pleasure to discover an American duo named Sybling. Two New York based sisters, stole our hearts withing minutes with their breathtakingly vocals, harmonies and eerie sounds that would make David Lynch look twice over his shoulder on his way home on a dark winter’s night. The duo are represented by the wonderful folks at Marauder Group and we  wrote to them asking if we could speak to both ladies. Much to our delight, the label and the band said yes (thank you)! We discussed their upbringing in a musical family, writing their debut EP and their eclectic musical taste ranging from Nick Drake to the British indie rock sensation, Radiohead.

Band picture by Manny Inoa

Sybling:
Alice Makwaia (vocals, multi-instruments)
Mariana Quinn-Makwaia (vocals, multi-instruments)

Not always we have a pleasure to speak to an emerging artists from the other side of the pond. Please introduce yourselves to the readers of Indieterria.

Sybling: Hello there! We are sisters, Alice Makwaia and Mariana Quinn-Makwaia of the duo Sybling.

You grew up in New York, in a musical family with musician and composer father and mother who is an actress and an acting coach. Did your parents have any influence on you to become an artist yourselves? Have they encouraged you to chose this path, or maybe they were against it knowing how hard it is in this business?

Sybling: Both of our parents are artists. As you already mentioned, our father is a musician and our mother is an actress. We grew up, the four of us, near the poverty line, in a one bedroom apartment. It was totally great (and we mean that in earnest). Our parents weren’t unhappy with the struggling artist lifestyle. They saw no problem in going into the arts. Our parents only encouraged us to do what spoke to us. And, from a young age, music did just so.

Before the creation of Sybling, both of you had an impressive musical resumes: Alice wrote musical scores for theatre and film (“The Snow Queen” by Downtown Art and “Forest Bathing” by Yaara Sumeruk) and Mariana found success as part of R’n’B outfit Smoke & Sugar. What convinced you to form a band together? Have you worked with each other before?

Sybling art by Catya Bastien

Sybling: (laughing) Making the band was an easy decision. We grew up singing together and harmonizing. In many ways, we knew each other musically better than anyone else in the world!

Sybling is inspired by a wide and eclectic range of genres: from traditional folk, to soul, jazz, funk and alternative rock. We can hear Nina Simone, Jeff Buckley, Marianne Faithful and Elliott Smith. And Stevie Wonder! Who is your inspiration?

Sybling: We’re both very inspired by alternative and folk genres. Our top inspirations are Sufjan Stevens, Nick Drake, Feist and Radiohead. Funny fact: we actually wrote “The Grim” for Radiohead! We heard the song in Thom Yorke’s voice.

You have released your debut EP on February 22, 2019. It is promoted by a lead single “Grim” and a video in which a young man is haunted by nightmarish figures with white masks covering their faces. Can you tell us more about “Grim” and the concept behind the video?

Sybling: The concept of “The Grim” video came from a sketch we made some years back. It was about someone on the subway, seated next to a suited man in a deer mask. It came from a thought that the subway is the looniest place we know! People are simultaneously physically close but oblivious to each other. We actually wrote the song when we were in High School, and it deals with the loneliness, and darkness that followed us around a lot then.

We absolutely love the cover of your EP, and the artwork  that is displayed on your social media. Who is the author?

Sybling: The cover of our EP was made by a Texas-based artist Catya Bastian. And we made the cover of our single for “Under.”

EP cover by Catya Bastien

You once said that “If one quote were to sum up the entirety of Sybling, it would be Kurt Vonnegut’s: “He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral.” A lot of your lyrics seem to deal with themes of searching for lost things and the past. The whole EP has this aura of melancholy and some sort of sadness. Perhaps we are mistaken but we feel like this record could be considered as a concept album, rather than just a collection of songs to reflect to?

Sybling: We like thinking of our EP as a concept album! Originally, we didn’t know what songs we were going to release, so it’s a bit of a fluke that they contextually fit together so succinctly!

We want to ask you about our favourite song “She is Alive in the Past”. It has beautifully crafted voice harmonies with catchy, radio friendly guitar riffs and piano. What’s really surprising, it has no lyrics. Please tell us more about it. Is there any particular story behind it?

Sybling: “She is still alive in the past” was very much an experiment. We’d had the tune in our heads for years, no lyrics. Even the finished product is a bit of a dream without a clear story. We think of it as a funeral march. We weren’t planning on recording it. Then one day, with an extra hour at the end of a session, we recorded a draft. Simple, just sparse vocals, guitar, organ, a little piano. Mari had the great idea of adding percussion, giving it that lopsided beat—which immediately reminded us, quite morbidly, of the way a zombie would walk.

“Grim” single cover

Last question – If you were to score a Netflix drama of your choice. What would it be and what songs appear on the soundtrack?

Sybling: We think, we’d have to go with Netflix’s “Russian Doll” to write music for. It takes place in the neighborhood we grew up in. We could see “She is still alive in the past” in there.

You can follow Sybling on their social media:
https://www.syblingmusic.com/bio
https://syblingmusic.bandcamp.com
https://www.instagram.com/syblingmusic
https://www.facebook.com/pg/syblingmusic
http://sybling.maraudergroup.com/

Email: syblingmusic@gmail.com|

Alice Makwaia (as a solo artist):
https://alicemakwaia.bandcamp.com/releases

Smoke & Sugar (Mariana Quinn-Makwaia side project):
https://www.instagram.com/smokeandsugarmusic
https://www.facebook.com/smokeandsugar/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1KsvM0hfcgI1_7DNTW-ptw

Articles:
https://alonelyghostburning.co.uk/interviews/getting-to-know-sybling/
http://ventsmagazine.com/2019/02/21/premiere-sybling-streams-new-self-titled-ep/
https://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwmusic/article/New-York-Folk-Duo-Sybling-Release-Their-Debut-EP-20190301
https://chicagonbeyond.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/mariana-quinn-makwaia-w-smoke-sugar/

Vanadian Avenue would like to say a few “thank you’s” to Sybling manager, Mr Phillipe Roberts and to the Managing Partner/Co-Founder of Marauder Group, Mr Rev Moose for making this interview possible. It was a real pleasure!

It is also worth mentioning that Marauder Group, is responsible for bringing the Independent Venue Week to America! This year, the US edition of IVW will take place on July 8-14, 2019 with more than 60 venues participating. You can find more about the  events here:
http://independentvenueweek.maraudergroup.com/
https://www.independentvenueweek.com/2019/04/independent-venue-week-announces-first-round-of-2019-us-shows-more-participating-venues/

We may try to speak to Marauder about IVW and the difference between the UK and USA versions. Keep your fingers crossed!

Please come back soon, we have a fantastic Mancunian band scheduled to speak to us next week!

Till then,
R+M