To prepare for their debut album, Drink Champagne (released this week), Andrew Vait and Emily Westman—also known as Sisters—put together an “exhaustive” playlist of their favorite songs, made a mental Venn diagram of where they overlap, and sculpted the sound of the album, which includes telltale traces of the Beatles, Jim James, Motown, '80s synth pop, Talking Heads, St. Vincent, the new Solange album, and Chance the Rapper. Honing what they call their “together sound," is a process of constant sonic compromise.
“We're kind of opposing forces,” says Vait. “I have a tendency toward cliche, and Emily has a tendency towards avant-garde. So…”
“…the middle of the road for us is nice, easy pop—still complex, but not, like, extreme in any direction,” says Westman, completing the thought (they do this a lot).
Vait and Westman formed Sisters in 2014, though their lives had intersected before that: they met when they were both at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music, and later both played for the Seattle Rock Orchestra after moving out west. They finally “discovered” each other and decided to play music together after Andrew’s wife suggested they meet up for coffee.
“It wasn't like Les Miz,” says Vait.
“Or like the dance scene in West Side Story.” Westman adds.
“It was more like a mockumentary…” says Vait.
Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of fun times for the duo, after releasing the Diamonds of Gold EP, touring, and playing local shows with a single-minded intention. Their only goal, they say, is to make you feel good. But is it okay to feel good right now, considering various factors?
“We can come at this with anger, and we should come at this with anger,” says Vait, “but there's a certain amount of self-care that's necessary in order to give something to any situation, whether it be relationships, or activism, or creativity.”
“And nothing is more upsetting to someone who’s trying to oppress you than being in their face, having a good time, and showing love.” adds Westman. “We're resisting with joy. Naked, in our backyard, and it's sunny all the time.”
Though the band has two sold-out record release shows at Sole Repair Shop (last night and tonight), they say they’re more excited about the recently-organized Bake Sale to benefit the ACLU (with Tilson XOXO, Spirit Award, and other guests) at the Fred Wildlife Refuge on Saturday.
“Now, all of a sudden,” says Vait, “it feels like that's the only show that matters.”
“I think it’s powerful just being able to feel like we can do something right now,” adds Westman, “even if we're just doing the thing we love, music. It doesn't feel frivolous when you're able to apply it in a certain way.”