interview is from the
Williamsburg website. Emma talks about the Elvis impersonators
who they hired to sing Happy Birthday to Chris on this 30th birthday
during the 1996 San Francisco show at The Fillmore.
An Interview by Alexander Laurence
Sing-Sing is a two person band consisting of Lisa O'Neill on vocals
and Emma Anderson on guitar. They have been together for about four
years on a number of different labels. Lisa, who has sung with
various artists like Kid Loco, was introduced to Emma by a mutual
friend. Emma had been looking for a singer to work with since her
former band Lush had disbanded in 1996. A shimmering future was
Lisa hooked them up with technical wizard Mark Van Hoen
(Locust/Mojave 3) and they made a demo of four songs including the
irresistible hit "Feels Like Summer." Emma's old friends Robin
Guthrie and Simon Raymonde of the Cocteau Twins were the first to
hear the results and agreed to put out a single on their own Bella
Union label. Soon they were being offered gigs and a live band was
In fall 2001, The Joy of Sing-Sing was released on Alan McGee's
Poptones label followed by a tour of America in early 2002. Soon
after, they were signed to Manifesto Records, and The Joy of
Sing-Sing saw American release. I spoke to Emma Anderson for a few
minutes before their soundcheck on their most recent tour.
AL: This is your second tour this year. How has the
Emma: The reaction has been really good. We are
playing with Venus Hum on the whole tour. They are really good.
They are an American group. They are very electronic. It's just
two guys with laptops and mixers and a girl singing.
AL: How did you get involved with Alan McGee and Poptones?
Emma: I have known Alan McGee for fourteen years now.
We actually made the record for a different label. We parted
with that label. We got the album back. We just needed someone
to release it. So I sent it to Alan and he liked it. He is
someone who I've known for a long time.
AL: What where you doing for the four years?
Emma: We have been putting out singles and going from
label to label. We had a lot of crap to deal with. I am not
going to lie. We left the Santuary label and had to sign
contacts all over again and it took so long. The record was
released finally in England late last year, and on Manifesto
it's been out two months here.
AL: How do you write songs in the band? Did you write
material before you joined forces?
Emma: We had written some songs but not a lot. I wrote
"You Don't Know" before I had met Lisa. She wrote "I Can See
You" before she had met me. Some of the songs that we co-wrote
like "Tegan" and "I'll Be" have different writing processes
behind them. I write songs on guitar. I usually get a melody
first then put some chords around that.
AL: Many of the songs are about relationships?
Emma; Some of them. Not all of them. Lisa writes about
that a lot especially when she is angry or frustrated with
somebody. That helps her write a song.
AL: I saw the video for "Feel Like Summer." It's a song
about an end of a relationship. The song sounds summery but the
video is all very bleak with you two walking around at the beach.
Emma: Yeah. We actually released the video when we
released the first single about four years ago. It's like an old
video now. We are probably less fat in it.
AL: What is the song "Command" about?
Emma: Lisa wrote that one. It is about her boyfriend
who is quite a reserved English guy, not very demonstrative with
his emotions. That is about her frustration with that. That
feeling of "If I could command you to say wonderful things I
AL: You had an incident with Lush and Elvis Herselvis in
San Francisco? Elvis Herselvis is this well-known Bay Area lesbian
Emma: It was Chris' birthday treat. It was a funny
thing because there was a mixup. We were trying to get an Elvis
lookalike to do a tribute. Two people went separately not
knowing what the other was up to. One person got a normal male
impersonator. The other got Elvis Herselvis. Both turned up that
night. But they came on together and it was quite funny.
AL: There's a lot of feeling of John Barry, sixties french
pop music in Sing-Sing?
Emma: I love John Barry. I quite like Françoise Hardy.
Have you heard Margot Guryan? I think she's American actually.
She's like breathy, sixties female pop singer. The guy who
designed our album turned me on to Margot Guryan.
AL: What do your parents think about you doing music?
Emma: Both of my parents are dead actually. They were
quite a lot older than me, even when I was born. They couldn't
get their heads around what I was doing. They were from an early
age. My dad was an army guard. They came around to it. My mom
saw me on Top of The Pops and they eventually realized what I
was doing all these years. They didn't have to worry.
AL: Are you playing at CMJ this year?
Emma: Yeah. We played it two years ago. Then we are
doing it again this year. It was good. We played with Lupine
Howl and Freeheat so it was a heavy bill. This time we are
playing at Bowery Ballroom with The Music. It should be good.
AL: What should people expected when they come to see
Emma: Christmas lights and white clothes. That's what
we wear onstage because we have funny projections. We might not
bring the projections with us to New York.
AL: Do you have some new songs since the record?
Emma: We have a few. We are rotating them.
AL: Have you read any books recently?
Emma: I have read a book for a while which is really
bad. I should read more but I haven't had any time.
AL: Do you have any hobbies?
Emma: Nothing weird. Just travel and cooking.