You Can’t Sit with Us
You Can’t Sit with Us is available via:
The album, Missdefiant, is available at:
I suppose I am breaking some of my reviewing…
PHOTO CREDIT: Michaela Efford Photography
cardinal rules because, in a brief side-step, I am looking at a duo I have assessed before. I will look at their new album – and a song from it – but I wanted to explain why I follow certain acts and come back to ones I reviewed. After that, I will have a peek into Pop and variations on the market; putting fun and energy back into music; artists who dig deeper and defy expectations – a bit about artists who have exceptional social media links and make it very easy to discover their music. I am pleased to be back with MissDefiant as I have been following their career for a little while now. When I last reviewed them, it would have been for their latest single release and, before that, the single that preceded that. It is interesting charting an act and how they can develop over the months/years. In terms of MissDefiant; I am pleased they have continued to grow and develop. That may sound condescending but a lot of artists in these times do not ensure and impress as much as they have. It is a tough industry and can be very hard when performing Pop/Electro. There is such a proliferation and promotion of the mainstream: artists who perform outside of that have to struggle a lot and work that much harder to get recognition. For Jordan Cather and Emily Rose Adams, there is a sisterly bond that touches me. They have a deep connection and understanding of one another. A lot of times; duos are together to sell records and because of some marketing plan. You can tell when they are together to make music – there is no personal connection and understanding. I find duos, actually, are more solid than bands. You can get a lot of unpredictablness with bands because there are often four/five members and tensions can arise through the years. Because of that, one finds some groups – you thought were brilliant and solid – that break-up without warning.
PHOTO CREDIT: Michaela Efford Photography
Duos are usually comprised of great friends or those in relationships. MissDefiant spend a lot of time together so can’t exist as a distant and detached unit. The songwriting, performing and promotion is the two of them – if they did not get along then you would notice and they would not survive long. Cather and Adams have a great friendship and have a lot in common. I do not get the same feel from other acts as I do from them. One can tell they are meant to be together and have a great compassion for one another. It is not only their relationship that impresses me: the music they produce continues to evolve and improve. Their earliest songs are brilliant but I find, with every new release, they get stronger and more confident. I think the touring they do – and the people they meet – has pushed that. Each gig pushes love their way and they, in turn, have the confidence to grow their music. It is encouraging seeing the girls grow as a duo. Their debut album – semi-eponymous (‘Missdefiant’ rather than ‘MissDefiant’) is a collection of all their past material; combined with their new songs in a fourteen-track bonanza. I can follow their career and periods through each song. Those earliest numbers – Robot, Venus & Mars, for example – seem effortless against newer tracks like Robot and You Can’t Sit with Us. Another reason MissDefiant have made me stick with them is the way they continue to put their music to new crowds. They do not sit back and let marketing people do all the work for them. Keen to play to crowds and ensure their songs get to as many hearts as possible – a fantastic duo that persevere and campaign harder than most. Who knows how far MissDefiant can go but, the fact they have been together for years suggests they are in no mood to quit anytime soon. In fact; I feel they could go on for many more years and record a few more albums at least. I will talk about touring later but, for now, a time to move on.
PHOTO CREDIT: Michaela Efford Photography
I wrote a piece yesterday – after a very stressful and fraught day – about how much has been split between North and South. It seems there is a division between the areas and the media puts too much emphasis on London. The fact I am reviewing a London duo does not undercut my point but I am keen to focus on acts outside the capital going forward. I think London will always have its place and is vital in regards modern music. I feel there are too few media sources looking further north and the great acts emerging there. I will do my best but what I wanted to talk about is the snobbery still afforded Pop music. We often get the idea all Pop formations and sounds will be commercial and off-putting. I agree there are so many unappealing and weak examples performing in music right now. I am not a huge Pop fan because, a lot of my exposure to it, consists chart performers and something rather hollow. When it comes to acts like MissDefiant; they have a fantastic sound that matches intelligent and wise lyrics with deep and nuanced sounds. They do not go for the marketable looks and sounds so many artists do. They have their own identities and songwriting – they do not have a huge team controlling everything and telling them what to do. Naturally, like most artists of the moment, there are people helping produce and write but, in the most part, it is the girls’ personalities that come through. That sense of personality is what brings the music to life. One gets a real identity to their music. A lot of performers sing and release music but you never get a sense of who is behind the music and what they are about. Every track reveals a bit about MissDefiant’s twosome. Each member has their own dynamic so it is never a case of Adams and Cather blending together and an indistinguishable whole.
PHOTO CREDIT: Michaela Efford Photography
There are many things that impress me about MissDefiant but it is the way they evolve and subvert that sticks. They do not perform the same style of music that everyone else does or want to be celebrated in the mainstream. By that, the duo does not compromise and write music that sacrifices substance and distinction. Their music has a populist edge – in so much as it can be taken to heart by the masses – but it does not rely on gimmicks, cheapness and aimlessness. What we get are songs that have spirits, physicality and memorability; tied to lyrics that make you think and ponder – vocals that have so many different aspects and colours. The girls have worked hard to craft that sound and are always developing what they do. I know they will release new material next year but, for now, their debut album is out and turning heads. It would be a risk compiling an album that has songs from the start of their career to now. Some do it but there can be a sense of incompatibility. Some of the tracks sound older and they struggle to gel with the new songs. Also; many people have already heard (most of the) singles and it creates a familiar-yet-unexpected listening experience. Most new artists release albums and then put out four or five singles before the record gets to us. It gives us a chance to discover what’s on the record but it can get quite tiring – do we need THAT many tracks out beforehand?! MissDefiant are different because they released their singles not sure whether they would release an album. The demand came in and reception received. The fans want to hear their older songs but some new ones from MissDefiant. We get a nice and easy mix of the heard and fresh from the London duo – it all sounds perfect together and flows as a whole. It is the way MissDefiant add something new into Pop and Electro that means their music is timeless and always warranted.
One other reason I love MissDefiant is, because, they inject fun and energy into music. I find the industry is becoming too serious. You either have artists that are too po-faced and emotive or the acts that try to be loose and fun but sound very forced and limited. Of course, there are artists that can lift the spirits and body but, for the most part, we are being fed those artists that could do with a bit of a kick. I am all for musicians that document something serious but I always look to detach once in a while and have my mood elevated. MissDefiant are not your average and fluffy Pop act that throw all the beats, electronics and production layers into the mix and bamboozle the listener with force and intensity. It can create a hypoxia and weariness that one looks to remedy. MissDefiant are different in the sense they write music that gets into the head but makes the body move with it. I know Cather and Adams have been working together for a while and they have researched the market. When I look at duos, I always investigate why they formed and how they differ from the rest of the music out there. In a way; being in a duo can be tough and easy. The relationship is solid and there are few extra bodies but they do not have the options of a band – to make something fuller – or the chance to be as intimate as a solo act. It is tricky so, for that reason, duos tend to play in particular genres. You get few Rock/Alternative options: more Pop, Electro and Folk brands. MissDefiant know this but do not limit their imaginations because of their restrictions. From their very first single, the girls struck away from their contemporaries and ensured they would do something original. Fun and involvement is at the forefront of everything they do. They want people to move and bond with the music.
The U.S.P. of MissDefiant is their lyrics: addressing themes and subjects that many of us can relate to but are not often spoken about by the more popular artists. By this, I mean we hear about the dangers of clubbing – drinks being spiked – and gender inequality; the differences in love and problems in society. MissDefiant do not merely talk of love and all the problems one has in relationships. That is common stock and, because of that, they are more concerned with talking about things that many of their peers do not. Their music appeals to everyone but they do not feel the need to talk down to anyone. We get the impression Pop artists are going to focus on narrow themes and denigrate music by presenting immature and shallow lyrics. That is not the case with every act and, if one looks around, you can find acts that put intelligence and wisdom into their words. I have heard songs from MissDefiant and been made aware of areas of society I was foreign to. It is good when music educates you and, in the case of MissDefiant, I am more aware of things they face in their everyday lives. Music should be about educating and informing people. So few artists take the time to write about what is around them and stronger issues in society. There would be some that assume, because Adams and Cather and beautiful and stylish, they would sing about love and relationships in a very ordinary way. This stereotype, in fact, does not apply to most Pop/Electro acts but the girls do address relationships in their music – they would alienate listeners were they to neglect that vital commodity. It is hard pleasing everyone but I am impressed with artists that do not follow everyone else and decide to talk about something important and serious. MissDefiant never abandon their sense of physicality and fun and have that intoxicating brew.
PHOTO CREDIT: Rob Gardner
I will move on and come to the music soon but, before then, a look at social media and how important that is when it comes to new artists. There are so many who still labour under the assumption they can ignore imagery and information and let the music do all the work. This is ground I tread commonly but I still see too many artists committing ignorance and naivety with little embarrassment. MissDefiant, I challenge, would not be as popular as they are if they were to overlook social media and be as prolific. Their music is solid and excellent but the way it gets to people is through social media. I see so many acts that have great songs but put very few photos out there. They might provide status updates once in a while but forget to keep the pressure on and do anything proactive. MissDefiant are keen to get in front of the camera and produce various shoots. They have a great look and sense of fashion and that comes out in their images. Music is not a fashion show, I know, but one needs to see the artist and have images available. For people like me, it can be rather depressing if there are a few half-decent photos and nothing else. It makes articles look bare and shows laziness on behalf of the musician. These days, anyone can take a photo of themselves and there is no point being ‘mysterious’. Music has power but not so much it can elevate an artist that chooses not to put their face out there. This kind of arrogance is leading journalists and fans to look elsewhere. Music and social media are visual mediums and, as such, this is a side of the industry many need to think about. MissDefiant are prolific with their photos and always update fans about goings-on and gigs. This means they feel more connected to their follows and, in turn, bring people in.
Consider looking at an artist’s Facebook page and seeing a few scratchy images and very little information. They might have a new track out but, psychologically, one is less likely to investigate because the rest of the profile is unattractive and sparse. It is a worrying trend but I am concerned few artists are doing anything to counteract this. I would not have bonded so hard with MissDefiant is they ignored photos and information because it would be hard to know where they came from and what they are about. The songs are the personality of an artist but it is good having visibility and something aesthetic to tie together. Music is a marketing tool as much as anything and a business. Success is down to talent but one cannot underestimate how pivotal social media is. Streaming figures and exposure arrives when artists put themselves out there and promote their work. People only pick up on an act when they think there is something intrigue and appealing about them. It is vital having a full package and profile. I bring back the dating analogy when one sees a profile that has great photos but the profile consists of a single line – normally asking someone to email them to find out more. If it is the other way – no images but lots of information – then you are not going to be enticed. The way to attract relies on revelation and visibility. One cannot be guarded in one area and expect people to be allured and hooked. The same goes for music. Those who succeed have every aspect of their music figured and active. MissDefiant are always busy and ensure they keep their profile fresh and mobile. It is a reason I remain with them and I can say that about many other people. What Adams and Cather do is engage with their followers and bring them into their world. There is no sense of the listener being a separate and intangible entity – they are drawn into the music and an integral part of MissDefiant.
PHOTO CREDIT: @robgardnerphotography
There is a sense of the 1980s when one gets the first whiff of You Can’t Sit with Us. I was thinking about an early-career Madonna. Wordless vocals come in and the song gets off to a rushing and effusive start. A smooth and rushing horn sit with funky beats in a carnival-style jam where anything is possible. When the vocals come in we hear about club-life and being excluded. Our heroine approaches a group of girls and, when asking if she can sit with them, they turn their noses. I feel it is a situation many are familiar with. That desire to be communal and sociable is rejected by those who feel enjoying their company is a privilege. I am not sure whether MissDefiant are addressing the seedy and salacious girls that try and hang with them – the type that exposes themselves and bring a sense of shame to proceedings. I feel it is the former and that snotty kind who gives rudeness to everyone they met. “Hey girl/what’s that look for?” and “Hey girl/don’t start a catwalk” suggests a group of women who stare and glower at those who try and approach them. Maybe there is that vanity and exclusivity that means only the most fashionable and hip are allowed into the club. Social life should be about connecting with everyone and, listening to the song, you get a sense of division and oppression. How much MissDefiant have experience is hard to say but I imagine they have encountered that kind of hostility. Maybe it refers to a balance of clubs and cafes. Throughout London, there is a split between the everyday and common and the cliques. The posher areas are filled with the types who refute and criticise anyone they believe is not to their level. I guess this extends to all areas of the world but it seems pronounced in the capital.
PHOTO CREDIT: Anna Urik
The song’s intoxicating and alluring combinations contrast the seriousness and strictness one finds in the lyrics. Even though the lyrics profess a sense of exclusion; the wording is conversational, fun and loose. You feel like you are alongside them in the club and the jabber and nonsense these snobby girls project. MissDefiant have always been great at talking about serious matters but providing an accessible narrative for the listener. The chorus repeats the song’s title and is punctuated by vocals of “Hey, hey!”. One feels like they are in the setting and following the course of events. Like all MissDefiant choruses; they are big and bright and will lodge in the head for a while. You Can’t Sit with Us is a Pop song that is not reserved for those who are fans of the genre. It has an amenable and flexible manner that means anyone can hear it and bond. I have heard it a few times and every listen reveals something new. Aside from the big chorus, it is the production that shines through. It has gloss and polished but is never too shiny and gleaming. There is room for a rawer club sensibility to come through so you get a mix of 1980s Pop and modern-day Dance. The resultant brew attracts the senses and makes the head swim. Our heroines ask whether it is their lack of Prada that means they are being shunned. The vacuous and air-headed clan have their expensive clothes and taking endless snaps of themselves. Our girls are not bothered they are being shunned but kind of glad they do not have to stoop to that level. Giggles, sarcasm and cutting jabs mean the song is always vivid, candid and real. It makes you smile and side with MissDefiant as they navigate a labyrinth of conversational nonsense, arrogance and cheap values.
The girls are not with their honies and not draped in diamonds. The fact they are not bejewelled and blinged-up mean they are not worthy of time with the ‘cool’ crowd. Many MissDefiant songs look inside the clubs and the social scenes they encounter. Adams and Cather, in various guises, have been around these types of people. Working in modelling, acting and fashion would have given them an insight into the rather regrettable sort they have to be around – radio reporting and interviewing does that too. One can call MissDefiant fashionable and cool but they bring people into their world. They never exclude and thing they are above other people. It is difficult knowing whether the duo want to be part of that inner-circle but one feels the song is a dismissal of those who shut themselves away and think they are better than anyone else. One feels this song, ironically, might be played during an episode of Made in Chelsea. You can, if you have the inclination, encounter the kind of scenes and snobbery (on the show) one hears in the song – they do it without irony. Maybe there are certain areas that have such a mass of bitchy and arrogant people but you can encounter it wherever you go. You Can’t Sit with Us is the second track from Missdefiant and a blast of energy and attack. The girls are cheeky throughout and expert when it comes to cutting the lesser sort down. A brilliant track that could get the clubs bouncing and, let’s hope, shame those who are being addressed throughout You Can’t Sit with Us.
IN THIS PHOTO: MissDefiant a Thousand Island
I will finish things very soon but wanted to talk about MissDefiant’s touring, future and album. They launched the album at Thousand Island in London and gained a huge reaction. The girls are bonded to London and have played in many different venues. They are comfortable at a place like Thousand Island (Highbury) as they are in Hoxton. They have a sound that is as fresh, colourful and varied as the city. This year is the biggest one for MissDefiant and this month especially. They have released the album and will want to get Missdefiant to the people. Because of that; I hope they have more London gigs coming up. There is a lot of love for them in the city and people are reacting to their unique brand. I know they have had a whirlwind last few months and will want a time to relax before the end of 2017. It has been great seeing them play at various venues this year and get a big reception. The people of London love them and the girls and getting more fans flocking their way. I wonder how much of the U.K. they have seen. I talked about the North-South divide in music there is a reciprocal issue arising. Many artists outside of London stay where they are because they cannot afford to come down here. The media does not often feature them and assume they are being distant – the fact is they are not allowed a fanbase because they get little attention. Those in London who have a fanbase here do not often travel further afield – either to secure their popularity in the capital or think all the great venues and crowds are down here. I can see MissDefiant going down a storm in other parts of the U.K. They could stamp a real impression further north and get some fans up there. I know they have an international following but there is a chance for them to make an impact further up the country. Manchester is a city that spring to mind and they could easily get dates here.
I would like to see them, in 2018, think about the country and where they would like to form. Their music is terrific and it is being consumed by so many people. Many are waiting out there so I hope the girls get a chance to explore more options. The same goes for international areas. I think MissDefiant could go down well in the U.S. and North America. I am not hearing many like them in America and feel there is a desire for their music and what they provide. One can say the same of parts of Asia and Australia. I know Australia would be hospitable and there are cities MissDefiant could conquer. Perhaps finance and budget are factors that will limit their horizons but their popularity is worldwide. They are keen to get London talking about their music but I hope they think larger next year. I know there is a lot of love for them in other parts of the world so it would be great to see that exploited. MissDefiant are fans of acts like Lady Gaga and Little Mix but, in a way, they surpass them. I find those artists – Little Mix for certain – to be too mainstream and not as engaging as one would hope. They are concerned with getting fans in and the way to do that is repeat what other artists say – appealing to the pre-teen market with lyrics that are easy to understand and common to them. Lady Gaga is not as limited but still does not dig as deep as MissDefiant. It is great seeing the London-duo rise and succeed. I feel they will be in the mainstream in due time and able to exert influence. They will bring their compelling and engaging music to the masses and be able to make some real changes.
The girls, through their social media strengths and awareness, have secured a contract with MAC Cosmetics and, between them, have enjoyed careers in acting, radio and modelling. They have played at some great venues in London and worked with amazing producers. Missdefiant is an album that has already gained some great reviews. It unites all their music and their earliest moment to some new songs. The songs are not chronological so there is that nice and unexpected mix. One might hear something from a year back and a song you have not encountered before. For new fans; it is a chance to see how the duo has evolved and the range of their music. I know Emily Rose Adams and Jordan Cather will be pleased to see the positivity flowing and will want to increase that. I feel their music will reach even more people and they have the potential to take their album worldwide. I am looking at their social media feed and seeing the reaction people have afforded the album. It is wonderfully produced and the running order is perfect. The songs all fit together and it is equally weighted so the best tracks are either end of the album. Every song is strong but you are never bored or feel the need to skip tracks. They do not throw all the bangers near the top or keep them for the end. It is evenly distributed so the listener gets a great hit of energy right through the album. By the end, you want more and will go back and repeat certain songs. I wanted to look at You Can’t Sit with Us because it is a new song and one the duo are keen to promote. It is one of their most confident and bold songs and is destined to be a big radio hit. I know many stations have played their music but they are not an act that are resigned and confined to London stations. I shall end this but would urge everyone to have a listen to Missdefiant and check out You Can’t Sit with Us. I have followed the duo since 2015 and am impressed by the fact they grow stronger by the year. They are at their peak but one feels they can actually improve and grow from here. It is an exciting time for MissDefiant and proof they are…
AMONG the finest duos out there.
PHOTO CREDIT: Amy Spanos Photography