lo-fi indie chillwave dream-dance pop. if that doesn’t sound like a genre it’s because it’s not, but it does encapsulate the various directions that mr twin sister has pursued since its inception in 2008. the lengthy list speaks to the nyc-based band’s unique, amorphous sound rather than any sort of commitment issues. their latest record ‘salt’ features a blend of club music and smooth jazz reminiscent of early sade and portishead. its a serene yet eery listening experience, the kind of music that plays in “too-cool-for-school” lounge perpetually bathed in blue light.
ahead of their show at warsaw on 5/17 the band took the time to answer a few of our questions
“Power of Two” and “Echo Arms” are singles separate from the album. What relation do the songs have to each other? were they written in the same time period? It was mentioned that completing them came down to the wire, tell us a little about what happened
Those songs felt like our version of fun, upbeat singles you find on a disco 12” at a record store or thrift store, so we thought it’d be fitting to release them in that same way – like a tight little nugget of music. To those who really wish these songs were on an album: go buy the Japanese edition of Salt that we put out with PLANCHA, they’re all together!
Where does the band look for inspiration lately, and how does this get translated into the writing of new tunes? Do rehearsals still take place in Long Island?
New music comes from the time we spend apart. When we get together to work in our studio, we send the unrefined new material through the sort of creative centrifuge that is our band. Everyone plays shifting roles in working down that material into a thing that sounds like ‘us’. We’re like a design firm or something. I guess this is also how most modern pop music is made, but with a rotating cast of hired guns. And no, we haven’t practiced on Long Island in ten years, lol!
Tell us a little about the Mr Twin Sister radio station. How did this idea take off and what is the method behind it’s curation?
It started from wanting to do something with our big archive of demos and mixes that just sits around in our shared dropbox folder and on HD’s. We thought it’d be fun to have it all up and listenable somewhere, in a context where you could just tune in and hear whatever was going on, without any control over it. Dev is a programmer, so he quickly figured out the best way to put up an endless audio stream that could be managed, like a playlist, from wherever. Gabel became the program director, making daily schedules for the broadcast, gathering and making mixes, then later encouraging friends and fellow musicians to submit their odds and ends to the stream. Part of the fun was each day being a little different in format. One day we just played ‘Hejira’ on repeat all day because it was nice out.
Ultimately, having the stream running became a great way to talk casually with the people who follow what we do. For months, our DM’s were full of conversations with people asking for track ID’s or just wanting to be say “I love this song!” or ask when we were touring. We’ll definitely turn the radio back on when the next record is on the horizon, so that we can start talking to our people again and let them know what’s up.
There was also another single, “Jaipur” released over the summer that was perfect at it’s tense funk and pop execution. What is the story behind the theme of the song?
Udbhav wrote that song. The lyrics have that purposeful ambiguity where the song could be addressing a person, or an idea, like faith or love. The ‘you’ in the song could be a lot of things. It’s one of Estella’s best recorded vocal performances – she did it over what was essentially the demo, and then we sat on it for 5 years, swapping out instrumentals underneath, never changing the vocal track. Definitely an important one for us.
There are many noticeable dance music elements of house and minimal techno through the bands productions. Especially towards the latter half of the self-titled record. Are there certain DJs or producers that you all are fans of?
We all have so much love for club music. When we were making the Mr Twin Sister S/T, we were trying to work that stuff right onto the surface of the music. On Salt, we were probably equally influenced by that music, but out goal was to submerge those influences a little further into the songs themselves. Jaipur sounded like minimal techno or something for a while, but we ultimately took a route that felt less stylized. We used to air the ‘minimal edit’ on the radio station sometimes. Recently I’ve been listening to Ron Hardy edits. Good warm weather music.
It was mentioned that Mr Twin Sister helped Ava Luna mix their new album ‘Moon II’ What was that process like? Do both bands have a history together?
Udbhav helped Carlos and Julian from Ava Luna mix the record in our old studio in Greenpoint. They were pretty close to being done with it and they needed another set of ears. Udbhav probably had to kind of remind them that they’d already done most of the work, and then did his thing with it – ran it through our signal chains that we use on everything, probably put Eventide on everything. We’ve known Ava Luna for so many years, and they’re as close as we’ve got to musical family in New York. Playing this upcoming Brooklyn date with them feels like a proper reunion.
The third installment of Mr Twin Sister’s ongoing audiovisual series MTS VIDEO, showcases the fruits of a collaboration between the group’s own Andrea Estella, London based digital artist Diego Sánchez Barceló, and hundreds of Mr Twin Sister fans from around the globe
Interview by Evan Weiner
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