RENDEZVOUS: A Quick Catch Up With No Sister
Melbourne-based band No Sister like to do things their own way. Their unconventional approach sees them combine electronica, pop and punk, ultimately whisking up one particularly rhythmic industrial sound. It’s largely guitar-driven and entirely experimental, even using screwdrivers to achieve the ideal ‘clang’. While dark, there’s a real beauty that shines through in the many layers of sound; an unlikely pairing of soft and harsh instrumentals that feels both natural and unique. We had a quick catch up with Mino Peric and Tiarney Miekus from the band, ahead of the release of their forthcoming 7” EP Influence, out this Friday 23rd August.
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First things first - whose idea was it to start getting so experimental with guitars?
Mino: It was a combination of me becoming sick of the instrument and Tiarney thinking it’d be a cool idea if we sampled things and ‘re-learnt’ them on guitar. From here we thought it’d be fun to take our interest in experimental-guitar bands (Sonic Youth, Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham etc) and blend it with more of a pop/electronic sensibility.
Your new EP is out this week. Can you tell us a bit about the recording process?
Mino: We recorded what was originally going to be an LP with John Lee and Pat Telfer at Phaedra Studios here in Melbourne. Long story short, we ended up recording the drums last over all the instruments and vocals, as we initially thought simply sampling Murray’s kit and playing to a drum machine would be the way to go. But in the end, this didn’t work out the way we wanted, so the drums became the last thing recorded. I ended up mixing the EP at home and David Walker at Stepford Audio mastered it.
What does the general No Sister creative process look like? Who writes the songs?
Tiarney: Mino comes up with the initial ideas and gets a solid framework for the song, which is where he largely works out the relationship between our guitars, and the even more important relationship between our guitars and bass and drums. So, Mino creates a demo from this, then I give my input to the song - looking at things like structure, guitar tunings and instrumentation, the mood of the song - and then we take this demo to rehearsal and finesse it further with Murray and Gemma, who play drums and bass. From here it’s a big process of revision, updating the demo, and working out the dynamics until we have a song we’re happy with.
What was one of the weirdest instruments or recording techniques you used on the new EP?
Mino: During the loud section in ‘Burning News’ I used a drumstick to hit the bridge of the guitar in a way where the stick would rebound really quickly, giving this gurgly, metallic-drone sound, which in combination with the tremolo makes this really cool rising sound which has a lot of tension. We also started sampling different kicks, snares and claps from our favourite 80s records and slotted a few of these in the final tracks (although very quietly so we don’t get sued).
There’s a real contrast between industrial and ethereal on your track ‘My New Career’. Both sonically and visually. Do you prefer creating darker sounds?
Tiarney: I don’t think we necessarily prefer creating darker sounds, but I do think we’re interested in the blend between experimental sounds and structures with more pop and rock elements, which I guess is the classical post-punk blend. But on ‘My New Career’ particularly, because the guitars are so chime-like, it felt important to upset or complicate the beautiful elements with the bass and drums. It’s the juxtaposition between polemical things like sound/melody, industrial/ethereal where the interesting things potentially happen.
Do you feel like your music has shifted since you first started? If so, how?
Tiarney: I think when we first started we simply wanted to make a first record, and then with the second album we wanted to write rock songs. Now with the new EP, we’re going somewhere that’s hopefully both more experimental and more latently influenced by pop production. But in saying that, the general idea of building songs based around alternative tunings, harmonics and screwdrivers, ensuring there’s a strong rhythm, and further blending the experimental and the rock/pop - that’s always been there and informs all the songs.
With an EP titled Influence, I can’t not ask what you were all listening to while making the album?
Mino: Mostly 80s music from all parts of the globe. Deep down we wanted to sound like Yellow Magic Orchestra but with guitars rather than synths. Heaps of Japan, Mariah / Yasuaki Shimizu, Phil Collins and later-era Genesis (can’t love it and can’t hate it), David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s solo albums, Laurie Anderson, the list goes on.
There’s a number of anxious intricacies to your sound. Do you feel like you harness the complexities of the world via your music sometimes? Almost as a means of therapy?
Tiarney: I don’t think we’re interested in necessarily delving into the complexities of the world or creating songs as a means of therapy. If that comes out it’s almost a surprise and seems to happen a little unconsciously. I’d say we’re more interested in formal explorations, and I think focussing on the formal elements - of trying to write interesting songs - are entwined with the world, but the relation is a little more complicated than just a straight up “I’m trying to reflect something about the world”.
Who are some local artists you’re listening to at the moment?
Tiarney: So many to name! I particularly listen to U-bahn, Bitumen, Den and Sarah Mary Chadwick. And I also love David Chesworth, Primo!, Premium Fantasy and Bodies - who are all playing our launch, so that’s pretty dreamy.
What do you want people to feel when they walk away from a No Sister show?
Tiarney: Not bored!
Finally, you obviously have an ear for music. How do you go on the dance floor?
Mino: When I was six my sister had her 16th birthday and I stole the show dancing to La Macarena but these days I can only seem to dance like someone who has just pulled their back out but doesn’t want anybody to know, so perhaps I need to get that checked out.
No Sister launch their 7” EP at The Tote Hotel on 30th August, with support from Primo! + Premium Fantasy + Bodies. Until then you can get lost in the below.