I am pleased I get a chance to chat with Sisteray…
as it has been a little while since I last featured the boys on my pages. They tell me more about their new single, Algorithm Prison, and the story behind it. I ask whether privacy and data protection is something we need to all be more aware of; if the guys have more material brewing for later in the year – they talk about their formation and how their music has progressed since the earliest days.
I learn more about the tour dates booked and new artists we should be checking out; what the mood is like in the Sisteray camp; if they spend time away from music relaxing – the guys each select a song to end the interview.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
It’s always non-stop in Camp Sisteray. This E.P. isn’t even out yet and we’re already back at Sisteray H.Q. in Haggerston writing new material…always moving forward. Algorithm Prison was premiered on Radio X on Thursday and we’ve been announced as the headliner for Soma Fest in Chelsea on 21st April; so, a good week all in all.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
We are Sisteray from London Town and we are the future of the Post-Post-Post Punk generation.
Algorithm Prison sounds like an interesting title! What is the story behind the song?
This tune is more of a rallying call than a storyteller. Niall does this spoken-word part in the middle of the song when we play it live which goes: “This is Algorithm Prison. It's is about the darker side of social media. We’re fed up of having random posts and adverts rammed down our throats day in and day out and we want to know if you’re happy being a target market because we’re not!”. That sums up the song perfectly.
At a time when the Cambridge Analytica scandal is still raw; do you think we all need to be wary of privacy and how much of our data is being given away?
Yes, absolutely. Should someone in, I don’t know, Outer Mongolia, be able to target people in rural U.K. towns with ads saying immigrants are coming to take their jobs?! Absolutely not. That sort of thing is dangerous to our democracy - and who knows what would happen if malicious people got hold of your personal information?!
We started our own Cambridge Analytica-style personality test called ‘Are You Trapped in an Algorithm Prison?’ under the guise of ‘Hoxton Analytica’. It’s ironic, but a lot of people ended up signing up to our mailing list to take the test.
I last chatted with you about your 15 Minutes. It had an original concept. Do you feel it is important to keep fresh and stand away from the mainstream/predictable?
Absolutely. People consume music much differently these days and it’s important that you live and breathe what you do as an act. We believed in every aspect of 15 Minutes, from the theme, to the art; the special fifteen-minute shows we performed and to ensure the release was exactly fifteen minutes long, as that was our fifteen minutes… a moment in time where we could put down our flag and make a real statement.
I understand an E.P. is due very soon. Can you reveal its title and the sort of themes that inspired the songs?
We can’t reveal the title until Vallance Records does but it’s another statement piece from us, that’s for sure. Algorithm Prison provides a great taste of what’s to come. We take shots at the press, the stale state of the music industry and more…
That’s all Sisteray can say for now!
How did Sisteray come together? Do you share similar tastes in music?
We came together under odd circumstances, really. I’d wanted to start and band for a while and had been writing some tunes with my brother, the original drummer. I met Niall at some Thrash Metal gig at the old 12-Bar Club in Denmark Street. Me, Ryan and Niall wrote some tunes and booked a gig in Camden. Mick was an old workmate who joined three weeks before our first show, learning all the bass parts on an electric guitar. Believe it or not, the first time he ever strummed a bass was at our first ever gig!
Calum Landau recently joined us last year on the drums. He’s a fantastic musician and songwriter, as well as an up and coming producer/engineer - and definitely brings a lot to the band.
We all have quite eclectic tastes in music. In the tour van, we’ll listen to anything from The Clash to Eminem; Blondie, The Velvet Underground; Kendrick Lamar, Pixies; Bob Marley, Django Reinhardt and The Specials. We’ll listen to anything, really.
If you each had to select the one album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
Nirvana – In Utero
One of the most honest albums ever made. Still gives me chills.
Do you guys have any gigs lined up? Where can we see you play?
21st April – Soma Fest, Chelsea
8th April – Café INDIEpendent, Scunthorpe
1st May – The Workman’s Club, Dublin
3rd May – The Black Gate Cultural Centre, Galway
18th May – The Great Escape Festival, Brighton
19th May - The Royal Standard, Sheffield
2nd June – Camden Rocks Festival, London
20th July – NambuccaPalooza Festival @ Nambucca, London
14th-15th September – AnfiRock Festival, Huelva
17th October – 100 Club, London
If you had the chance to support an artist, and choose any rider; what would that include?
Would love to warm up the crowd for John Cooper Clarke, the same way he used to warm-up Punk crowds; that’d be something special. As for a rider; just a table tennis table, some balls and a bat. That’d keep us entertained for hours, just as the Sheffield Hallam Uni student union did.
Oh…and some vegan sausages for our Mick.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
We just want to connect as many people as possible; make them feel part of a community. We’d like to give as many hardworking grassroots bands and venues a leg-up as possible and make and release as much music as possible.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Our Camden Rocks headline set at The Good Mixer (last sometime). That was the most eventful hour or so of my life…I’d never seen so many people packed into a space like that! Non-stop crowd-surfing all night; just the way it should be!
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Don’t rush into anything: take your time to develop a great sound and great songs and don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way because that’s how you learn. Also, copy no one. Be yourself and don’t be afraid to be different…even if it takes a while to break through…
Eventually, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Do you all get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
No, not really! Whenever we’re not selling vegan pies or promoting our own shows, we’re on the road or going to gigs! We live and breathe everything we do and we love it!
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Calum: The Lemon Twigs – These Words
Niall: A$AP Rocky – A$AP Forever
Dan: The Vaselines – Son of a Gun
Mick: Novelist - Stop Killing the Mandem