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Playlist: Family Matters

A few examples where family ties turn into something more

The notion of family members forming bands, whether that’s siblings, marital couples, cousins or in-laws, is nothing new. At HumanHuman in particular we’ve noticed an influx of Promising Discoveries in which the band mates are related and in recognition of this trend we’ve put together some of our favourite family bands and made a playlist for you to browse.

Most of us will be aware of well-known modern examples like The National, who have two sets of brothers in the quintet, or Arcade Fire fronted by married couple Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, or Haim and their solid sisterhood. Whilst most musical projects start out as a chance encounter between like-minded creatives, these familial acts seem to have fate or biology working in their favour.

Ardyn

Ardyn ignited an online buzz nine months ago with expansive debut “Universe”, but long before they took the blogosphere by storm, siblings Katy and Rob Pearson were getting creative at their family home in Gloucestershire. Encouraged by their parents, they turned their garage into a music room, where they wrote and recorded songs together. As two parts of a trip, Katy and Rob are understandably close and they make the most of this otherworldly connection through their intuitive and spontaneous songwriting, always keeping a dictaphone close at hand. The resulting sound of Ardyn resides in the melancholic shadow of pop with Katy’s voice swerving over piano phrases and subtle supporting instrumentation as heard throughout their impressive debut EP, also titled Universe. Clearly, family is important to this band as they pay further homage to the familial background with their name. Initially going by the name Kitten and Bear, they’ve renamed themselves Ardyn after a long lost family member. - PD

Ardyn - Help Me On My Way

Ibeyi

Another band for whom family is everything is twenty-year-old French Cuban twins, Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz, known as Ibeyi. Everything from their name Ibeyi, which is a Yoruba word meaning “twins” to the instruments they use, such as the cajón introduced to them by their percussionist father Miguel “Angá” Díaz, to their multiple languages to their song titles like “Mama Says” evokes a cultural and ancestral heritage. In fact their self-titled debut album is dedicated to their parents, because it was the passing of their father that inspired Naomi to pick up her first instrument and the consistent support of their mother who also acts as a manager to put the project in motion. It’s easy to assume that their twinship also has an impact of their music. In an interview with The Guardian, the sisters not only talk about the power of their non-verbal communication - “With music, we just look in each other’s eyes, and we know” - but also how opposites attract, citing that they have antithetical personalities, something which is key to their creative process. - HT

Ibeyi - Mama Says (Official Video)

Haiganoush

Music certainly seems to be a way for younger generations to celebrate their inherited family history. Haiganoush (meaning “sweet land” in Armenian) is the name of London-based duo Richard and Veronica, who take the name from the siblings’ Armenian grandmother. This brother-sister duo weave traces of their Armenian heritage into their sound, heard in the Eastern European sounds and harmonies, which succinctly contrasts against their British influences. A song like “Belong” demonstrates this clash of cultures, with a sparkling electronic composition rubbing shoulders with more traditional sounding instrumentation. Through this, the sibling pair can express the feeling of being part of a culture but at the same time being geographically separated from it. This tension of the familiar and alien is at the core of their sound. One of Haiganoush’s notable differences is that even though they’re blood relatives, their creative process is one that takes place remotely. They work on the tracks separately and then send files back and forth. - PD

Belong by Haiganoush

Flora Cash

In the press release I received from record label Icons Creativing Evil Art (ICEA), they introduced this act with the title of their EP and a question ‘can summer love last forever?’ and the answer seems to be yes in the case of double act Flora Cash. This pair of musicians first crossed digital paths on SoundCloud in 2012 when Shpresa Lleshaj based in Stockholm and Cole Randall based in Minneapolis first swapped songs. This artistic appreciation soon evolved into a romantic relationship and then into a marriage. The essence of this kinetic relationship comes through keenly in their music, both as a duo and separately. Take Randall’s newest release “Our Golden Years” as an example, a trickling acoustic serenade reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens and filled with nostalgic memos for his wife, like opening line “love me, for the thing I am” and later “don’t you remember, we said there’s no I without we?” Thinking on their collaborative efforts, the pair pepper their folksy tracks with contemplations of love, both positive and negative. “Pharoah” explores a kind of love-sick madness, “And Ever” is reassuringly settled and most popular single “For Someone” is undeniably moving. What makes this act stand out from an unmarried, uninvolved male-female duo is that they are able to take direct inspiration from their own relationship. Authenticity will always win over fabrication. - HT

Flora Cash ◘ Pharaoh [Official Music Video]

Tigertown

Tigertown is a Sydney-based indie pop quartet, who are all about the family ties. At the band’s core stands husband-wife duo Chris (guitar) and Charlie Collins (lead vocals and synth). This marital couple are backed up by Alexi (keys) and Elodie (bass), who also happen to also be Chris’ siblings. This merry band of relatives seem to be on a mission to make you smile and dance, with their poppy lighthearted tunes that capture a sense of carefree summer in. The band used to have more of a folky sound and they released three EPs of that style in Australia. However, while working on the Lonely Cities EP, which will be the first one for the rest of the world, they ditched the violin and acoustic guitar and traded them in for synths and samplers. In a lot of ways, their music is a celebration of togetherness, of family. As their Twitter description quite aptly states, “all family, all in a band, all together now.” — PD

Lonely Cities by TIGERTOWN

Cruel Youth

You could mistake Cruel Youth for the solo project of Teddy Sinclair, as it’s her smokey voice and image that fronts all of the songs, but supporting her throughout writing and recording is her husband and fellow musician Willy Moon. Their coming together could definitely be described as a whirlwind romance, as explained in their extensive Facebook biography, “After meeting Willy in 2013 at Universal Records, Teddy found an inseparable intimacy in their creative chemistry and the two married just a few months later.” Four months ago the result of nights and days locked away in the studio with each other made it’s appearance online in the form of “Mr.Watson”. This tightly produced alternative pop single is hinged on the repeated question “what would I do without you?”. This mutual reliance seems to be a theme throughout Cruel Youth’s songwriting and is even seems to be something they warn against in “Diamond Days” with reference to films like Mulholland Drive and Vanilla Sky where romantic partners lead each other down treacherous and destructive paths. - HT

Diamond Days by Cruel Youth

Doomsquad

Odd could be one way to describe sibling trio Doomsquad. There’s no denying that this band is definitely left of the usual field with their Americana-goth fashion choices unexpectedly paired with a psychedelic new wave sound. The sibling band is based in Montreal and Toronto, drawing support from the local tight knit art community of the latter city and collaborating with musicians like cult artist Mary Margaret O’Hara. As heard in single “Pyramids On Mars”, the backbone of Trevor, Jaclyn, and Allie Blumas’ sound is pulsating beat and New Romantic-style cantations which have an hypnotic and ritualistic feel. The result is equally enchanting as it is entrancing, emphasised by the accompanying outer worldly dreamstate video. If these indie triplets aren’t enough to satisfy your appetite for family bands, then you could always catch them on their upcoming tour where they will be joined by the Hasko twins - aka North America. - PD

DOOMSQUAD - Pyramids on Mars

Lastlings

One of the recent brother-sister duos to receive the attention of the blogosphere is Lastlings, formed by Amy and Joshua Dowdle. Aesthetically, this Gold Coast act look the part, with their similar facial features and complimenting clothes affirming that their music is a reciprocal effort and should be treated as such. Their dreamy sound is also reminiscent of sibling project BROODS, something with is pointed out by one commentator on Triple J Unearthed, “You've got such an early Broods thing going on. This washed-out pop number [“You”] shows you've really matured as songwriters.” Looking through more of the comments and filing through the many internet write-ups, it seems that most listeners are surprised that these young musicians are able to produce music to such a professional level alongside their brother or sister. Like Australian publication Oyster points out “most of us were fulfilling our sibling-hang quota back in the day fighting over the remote and pretending not to know each other in public,” but Lastlings show us the finer side of sibling collaboration. - HT

YOU by LASTLINGS

Lily & Madeleine

Here’s sister act Lily & Madeleine, known to their friends as Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz. The pair started singing together at their home in Indianapolis. Following the online breadcrumb trail, producer Paul Mahern (The Frey, Iggy Pop) discovered their home recordings on YouTube and invited them into his studio to work on their first EP while they were still in high school. The strength of their music lies in the contrast of their dreamy ethereal vocals against a sparser instrumentation and air of seriousness. The combination of Madeleine’s higher girlier voice with Lily’s deeper and darker tone is what makes this sibling vocal blend stand out. They’ve been compared to First Aid Kid in sound and set up, but the Jurkiewicz sisters balance a more stripped down and temperate rope. They’ve released three albums so far, two of which on Sufjan Stevens' Asthmatic Kitty Records and their latest Keep It Together which was released earlier this year through New West Records. Lyrically they’ve matured from teenage angsty ponderisms into maturity. Restlessness, movement and transition are the major themes throughout their music. - PD

Lily & Madeleine - "Hotel Pool" [Official Video]

LUH

When Ellery Roberts left his former band WU LYF in 2012, he gave us a searing statement “The sincerity of [debut album Go Tell Fire to the Mountain] was lost in the bull shit of maintaining face in the world we live” (via NME). After one solo single and a three year hiatus, Roberts appears to have found his muse in partner Ebony Hoorn, a musician and visual artist. Together they call themselves Lost Under Heaven, or LUH for short. The pair have since released a handful of impressive tracks and a poetic manifesto that shows Roberts’ disdain for insincerity is still in tact. Perhaps their criticism of others is why single “I & I” strikes such a powerful chord as their voices follow each other chanting “If you’re not ready, forget it, lay down and fall back to sleep.” The video which was co-directed by Ebony Hoorn alongside Florian Joahn is equally impactful as the camera swirls around the couple in blur of red, establishing LUH as the centre of their own musical universe. - HT

I&I; initiation

TEEN

Stylishly capitalised TEEN is the band built around Nova Scotian native Kristina “Teeny” Lieberson, known for playing keyboards with Here We Go Magic. Alongside Teeny, who takes the lead vocals and handles most of the songwriting duties, are her two sisters Katherine (drums) and Lizzie (synths), plus honorary sister Boshra AlSaadi on bass. Even though they’re based in Brooklyn now, the band dismiss the “Brooklyn” label, because they personally don’t feel like part of that scene and so take their creative process elsewhere. For example, TEENs third full length album, Love Yes, was written and recorded partly in Kentucky and partly in rural Nova Scotia. Love Yes is a red velvety exploration of identity, spirituality and sexuality of womanhood, forged out of their biological and nominal sisterhood. Shying away from conventional recording, and trying to encompass the energy and soul of live performance on their album, they decided not to use multi-tracking. The result is an confidently luscious album in which the band that is completely in tune and in sync. - PD

TEEN - "Free Time" (official music video)

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