Siobhán Kane talks demos, New York and Asian cowboy movie stars with Eric Cardona of Twin Sister.
Twin Sister had crossed paths for quite some time through the musical community of Long Island before they eventually, organically, decided to play some music together. That led to a few EP’s including 2008’s brilliant Vampires with Dreaming Kids, 2010’s Colour Your Life and this year’s truly lovely debut album In Heaven.
Their sound is a jangling mixture of indie-dreamy-pop, taking refuge in corners already lit by The Cocteau Twins among others, but imbued with a kind of slouchiness that adds to the charm of songs like ‘Gene Ciampi’ and ‘Daniel’. There is an unfettered joy on the record, from the Morricone inspired ‘Spain’ to ‘Saturday Sunday’ which brings to mind Camera Obscura, and Andrea Estella’s vocals fly all around the range to pleasing effect. Sometimes Eric Cardona joins in (‘Stop’, the brilliant ‘Eastern Green’), which adds a more steadying poise to proceedings, since he sounds a little like Destroyer (only a good thing). Their record is a really complete, rich piece of work; moving around songs like the uptempo ‘Bad Street’ then seamlessly moving over to the ethereal ‘Kimmi in a Rice Field’, and heartbreaking, atmospheric ‘Luna’s Theme’. They have managed to create a record of real emotional depth that far outweighs their years, and with an interesting kind of musical bric-a-brac, have created one of the records of the year. Siobhán Kane talks to Eric Cardona of the band.
It’s wonderful that you have so many of your demos available for people to hear on your website, it is a lovely way of being generous, but also honest and true – and in some ways tracks your progression, a kind of an archive – is it an important marker for you? We started doing it for ourselves just as a way of sharing ideas within the band, some of the songs up there are slightly embarrassing, but I’m happy that they’re there. They help give perspective to what we’re doing now, and what we want to do in the future.
In Heaven has such depth that far outweighs your years, what do you feel you did even slightly differently with In Heaven? It sounds even more cohesive. We’d never made music full time until this record, and we’d also never recorded in a studio together until this record. I think those things had a deep effect on how it sounds. We also made it rather quickly, much faster than we’re used to. There was a little less time for reflection, but we’re in the habit of constantly second guessing ourselves. I want to be more confident in what we do next, have more faith in ourselves and take our time getting everything right.
Do you use quite a lot of older equipment to get that warm, hazy sound? Tape decks and such things? Do you record onto tape? This album was our first time recording to a full tape machine. We have used cassettes a lot for our demos and older songs. Nectarine, on our first EP, was finished on a computer and then dumped on to a cassette through Gabe’s boombox. We like the imperfections and flaws of analog recordings. At the same time, the ease of use and flexibility of making music digitally is something we really appreciate as well. We like to use a little of both.
The song ‘Gene Ciampi’ is lovely, he seems like a character, can you expand a little on his “history”? Gene Ciampi is a character that grew out of jokes that Andrea would make all the time. He is an Asian cowboy movie star who is a bit past his prime, but still valiantly attempting to continue his career.
You did many live shows around New York in the last few years, it must have been a good apprenticeship of sorts? We spent a couple of years playing shows in New York, and it was a great training ground for us. I think before that happened we were just five people who played each other’s songs. It helped make us into a band. I love playing The Silent Barn, which is a DIY venue in Ridgewood. Our shows there are always a little bit rag tag, but the heat and sweat bring out this wonderful energy that is hard to replicate anywhere else. I only lived in Brooklyn for a little more than a year, and Andrea and Gabe have never lived there. Now I live on Long Island. Brooklyn is close by though, and having all of those places to play was very very helpful in helping us get to where we are now.
You have previously said that you have enough material at the moment for a few records? Well, all of that material is in various states of completion. Some are just fragments of ideas that will take a long time to become full songs. We’re very fast at starting songs, and slow at finishing them.
I believe that Andrea is a very talented dancer, does she incorporate any of those bits and bobs into the live shows? Andrea definitely has some moves. On stage she has her own thing going.
You have toured with Bear and Heaven and performed with people such as Wild Nothing, and John Maus – what have some of your favourite experiences from those times been? Touring with Bear in Heaven was one of our favourite experiences as a band. Those guys are wonderful people, and they were amazing to watch every night. That tour spoiled us a little bit, we just expected that every other show would automatically be just as magical.