New Music: Mozart’s Sister

Features, Music, New Music August 11, 2014

Originally published and still available on The Girls Are (01/08/14).

Shunning her former indie ways, Mozart’s Sister abandons guitar in favour of a life led by the synth.

The lowdown: Caila Thompson-Hannant and a menagerie of synths

Affiliating oneself with the sibling of a musical visionary may induce a perception of egocentricity, but for Caila Thompson-Hannant it was symbolic of a confinement in a role long outgrown: “I wrote the song ‘Mozart’s Sister’ first and thought that’s the perfect name for my project. I was in another band at the time and I felt very stuck in a role being a side person, the girl and stuck in my own inability to record my own music.’”

As is purposeful of a namesake, the track in question is a three and a half minute exploration of Thompson-Hannant’s frustrated need for self-expression moulded into a delectable nugget of robust electro-pop, brimming with glitchy synths, rippling beats and… baby noises? “I like to play with my voice and effect it at times,” says Thompson-Hannant, “but I also like to use its full power… and I think people interpret that as being [influenced by] those sort of divas from the ’80s and ’90s… but I’m not really”.

It is, instead, Bjork that is the queen in question for the Montreal native, and in taking stock fromDiscovery-era Daft Punk and funk songstress Betty Davis fuelled her debut album thanks to her staunch DIY ethic. “I find I don’t really like writing with other people… I feel [it’s easier to] grab the moment by myself and go faster, [but] sometimes it’s hard writing on your own, you get sick in your head and it’s hard to keep perspective [and] push yourself out of your own habits”. The latter is a statement that one would be hard pressed into believing following a listen of Mozart’s Sister’s debut album Being which, despite being firmly rooted in pop, blends sophisticated electronica with enormous hooks, Thompson-Hannant’s limitless vocals and a constant thirst to broaden her soundscape.

‘Enjoy’, as the first single unveiled from Being, is an upbeat and introspective introduction of things to come, complete with accompanying home-made visuals. The YouTube video for ‘Enjoy’ “wasn’t intended” to be a video (it was made to retain creative control over aesthetics), but Thompson-Hannant believes viewers may find it “inspiring” to see visuals that are not as glossy as much of today’s output, where there is pressure for everything to be perfect. Performing as a solo artist has been a similarly liberating experience, as having previously being a member of indie rock band Shapes and Sizes had left little opportunity for performative expression. “Getting into anything more flashy… it just wasn’t on the cards. When I started performing solo I did really feel that I could dance how I would in a club onstage and I felt very unhindered”.

Ultimately, a sense of freedom permeates Mozart’s Sister, and for Thompson-Hannant, it is being able to control every aspect of her project. “I had an early 20′s indie rock phase and got a lot from that but I just felt a bit frustrated with guitar and feeling like ‘That’s all I’ve got!? There’s too much going on in my head for those six strings!’”, and in listening to the music, it could not be agreed more.

Listen if you like: Grimes, Little Dragon, MØ


Buy: Debut album Being is out August 25, 2014 via Asthmatic Kitty Records


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