Long Island five-piece Twin Sister’s debut album In Heaven (album of the month for October) is sure to end up in the upper reaches of my end of year album chart. It creates a small unique Venn diagram between dreamy pop songs, indie, synth-pop, disco and funk. It’s this push and pull that keeps bringing me back into its sonic world.
That cross-section is firstly down to the different backgrounds of Andrea Estella, Bryan Ujueta, Eric Cardona, Gabel D’Amico and Dev Gupta. Some of them have been friends a long time and played in disparate bands in Long Island. “Brian and Eric had been in a band together when Eric was 13 or 14 [Brian is 3 years older]” keyboardist Dev told me. “Their band played hardcore, Eric and Andrea had a folk duo, I played in a bad pop band, Gabe played with Brian in a rock band….”
Their varying influences also play a part in their hard to pin down sound. “Eric will always like folk singers, where I don’t care about folk music,” laughs Dev. “One thing all of us agree on is music that will make you move a little bit, that has a groove that unites everything.”
Collectively, their iPods feature the likes of Sly Stone, Stereolab, Talking Heads (“intellectual stuff”) and they all agree on Sade, which they listened to a lot while they were recording In Heaven.
Main vocalist Andrea, who Dev calls a very visually-orientated person, is inspired by Anime and that influence can be heard and seen most prominently on ‘Kimmi In A Rice Field’. The song’s epic-yearning style, haunting vocals, synths and delayed beats conjur a musical netherworld analogous to Anime’s recognisable but dream-like environments. The video for the track re-inforces the ethereal quality with Andrea being haunted by the ghost of her dead sister before they are reunited. Not happy twin sisters then.
Like Anime, imagery and colour add inspiration in the band. “We like our music to be visual,” Dev elaborates. “Sometimes when Brian is describing how he wants something to sound he’ll use colour and confuses all of us. We like to think of our music as soundtracks to movies that don’t really exist.”
A standout song on the record, ‘Gene Ciampi’, was inspired by a joke that Andrea tells about an Asian cowboy movie star whose best days are behind him. “Gabe and Andrea found this tape on tour that was I think a Chinese band who played what sounded like cha-cha music filtered through their own eyes and that inspired us led us into the direction of that song.”
So a great debut album on Domino Records and a couple of killer EPs, things are going well for Twin Sister. What’s next to judge them on – their debut Irish live shows? Dev promises that the band are a little bit more uptempo live than on record. “Who we are and what we’re about comes across better I think.”
Twin Sister play The Limelight, Belfast on Friday November 11th and The Grand Social, Dublin on Saturday November 12th. Tickets are £7 and €14.50 respectively. You can win tickets to the Dublin show here. Holiday Shores will support on both dates.
Niall Byrne is the founder of the most-influential Irish music site Nialler9, where he has been writing about music since 2005 . He is the cohost of the Nialler9 Podcast and has written for the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Cara Magazine, Sunday Times, Totally Dublin, Red Bull and more. Niall is a DJ, founder of Lumo Club, event curator and producer of gigs, parties & events.