you haven't heard about SING-SING already, you soon will.
MANIFESTO RECORDS was smart enough to pick up the band's
first release, titled THE JOY OF SING-SING, and put it out
domestically. SING-SING showcased in New York City during
the CMJ Music Festival in 2000 and played to an eager crowd
filled with those who came to see Emma Anderson from LUSH
and those who were already aware of the joy of SING-SING. In
2002 they put together a short US tour that ended with a
showcase in Austin during the SXSW Music Festival. I have
had the opportunity to see SING-SING live several times, as
well as perform in a band that opened for them on two of
their US tour dates. These ladies are creative, talented,
friendly and ready to share their danceable, hypnotic,
dream-pop tunes with America. We chatted via email and they
sent over photos of their favorite haunts in Kilburn and
Cricklewood, London, England.
Without a record deal in North America, how did you go
about putting together the tour that culminated with your
appearance at this year's South By Southwest Music Festival
in Austin, Texas?
Emma: Well, we have an
agent and a manager so it was no problem getting some gigs.
I think the fact I was in Lush helped a great deal -
certainly with getting well-paid gigs in LA and SF. The tour
wasn't very long (only 2 and a half weeks) so we did all the
organizing ourselves and as the travelling party consisted
only of us (and Jimmy, who used to work for Lush, for a part
of it) so we could all fit in a people carrier. It was fun
but a lot of work and I wouldn't do it again like that! Too
How did Sing-Sing and Manifesto Records meet?
Emma: Jo Lenardi, our manager, knows Evan who runs
the label. She sent him a CD and he loved it so it went from
there.I read that the two of you started your own label
called Aerial Records a few years ago.
Is this something you are still working on?
Emma: Actually, Aerial Records was just an imprint
we had when we were signed to Sanctuary Records over here.
It was just a name and a logo. When we signed the licensing
deal with Poptones we asked if we could use the Aerial name
and logo alongside the Poptones one but they weren't into
it. That was the end of Aerial really! But it wasn't a label
per se - just something to print on a record sleeve!
How many recording sessions took place to create
'The Joy of Sing-Sing'?
Emma: A lot! The album was made over quite a long
period of time due to lack of money so there were many
sessions both in the recording phase in Mark van Hoen's, our
then producer's, studio and at Trident, Nomis and the
Townhouse where we mixed it. I couldn't tell you how many
sessions there were but it seemed to go on a long time.
Worth it, I hope!
The album was definitely worth all the work. There are so
many textures and layers to explore.
How did you finally decide the album was complete?
Lisa: The million dollar question for any artist
is, 'When do I stop?'. So many albums are overworked, and
this usually comes from having too much time and money on
your hands, a problem that has never afflicted Sing-Sing!
Emma, did you seek out the opportunity to work with
women musically, or has it just happened that way?
Well, with Lush - it's just that Miki and I were school
friends and we followed our teenage dream of wanting to be
in a band - no great masterplan or agenda - so no. With
Sing-Sing I had written a bunch of songs before meeting
anyone else with whom I ended up playing but I guess the
lyrics of the songs were more suited to a female perspective
so that dictated getting a female singer. But I like to work
with both sexes. It's funny because when you tell people
like taxi drivers that you are in a band a lot of the time
you get, 'Is it all girls?' and I find that a weird
reaction! Why should it be??! I don't really think about the
gender issue much.
Lisa, how did you become interested in creating music
and come to work with Mark Van Hoen and The Mad Professor?
Lisa: I started singing because I was a bored
teenager with nothing to do and thought joining a band would
keep me out of crap Welsh discos. It did and my second band
followed me to London in '93 I think it was. We started
making demos, one of which ended up in Mark Van Hoen's hands
just as he was completing 'Morning Light'. It was too late
for me to contribute to that album fully so we wrote a track
together, which became a hidden track on the Japanese
release. That's what Emma heard. It's amazing the little
twists and turns that happen; one cog out of place and I may
never have met Emma at all. The Mad Professor thing came via
Sing-Sing too - via Joely who was to be the other Sing-Sing
singer. We started a little project with him that ran
concurrently with making "The Joy of...". There is in fact
an album of 'lovers rock' songs out there if anyone wants to
do some research and find it, but I'll give no more clues
because I'm vaguely embarrassed by it, to be honest.
How long was it after you first met that you
realized you wanted to combine your talents?
Lisa: Immediately really. I think we met once
without knowing anything about each other, 'strangers in the
night' style, but the next time we met was in September
Sound studio on the Thames in Twickenham, where I demo-ed
Emma: I had heard the hidden track on the 'Morning
Light' album by Locust (a.k.a. Marc van Hoen who ended up
producing the Sing-Sing album) and thought it was great. I
had met Lisa but only as the girlfriend of my then
boyfriend's flatmate but when I met her in a different
capacity -i.e. a potential musical cohort - I realised she
was serious about it and we did seem to click pretty much
straight away. P.S. my copy of 'Morning Light' wasn't
Japanese - it was the limited edition British rlease!
I noticed Mark Van Hoen plays several instruments
on the album. Did you come to him with your ideas for synth
and drum sounds?
Lisa: A bit of both. Emma and I would write the
songs as whole entities then we'd all sit together in the
studio and add the icing. I worked out a lot of the synth
solos and he'd get more involved in the keyboard
programming, getting unusual vintage sounds out of them and
the drum programming is almost all Mark. I think its fair to
say that there's a lot of Mark in the
album so it's a shame we aren't working with him again.
Emma: Working with Mark was a learning experience for both
us and him. With regard to me especially he had never really
worked with someone that had written WHOLE songs before
(chords progressions, basslines etc) and at first he found
that quite difficult and restrictive. I had to learn to let
go of some of what I had written (e.g. the basslines!) and
let him change things which was weird for me and he had to
learn how to adapt to being a producer and not an artist
which wasn't that easy for him either. I think the result
proved satisfactory though.
I've seen a few of your American shows over the past
two years, I'm curious as to what the gigs in London are
like for Sing-Sing.
Lisa: We have a lot of regular fans and more
friends in the audience obviously, but the crowds are always
up for it and appreciative. However they don't bring us
flowers and wave cardboard hearts at us like they do in the
States, more's the pity!
Have the two of you started working on a follow up
to 'The Joy of Sing-Sing'? I imagine a lot of time has
passed since you wrote the songs on that album.
Lisa: Yes, but only recently; it took so much
energy to release "The Joy.." because we were without any
kind of business help, and I think that sapped any creative
energy to write new songs. Now its all sorted and we have a
manager and American label looking after things, we are
freed up to write which is how it should be - I can't wait
to see what it'll sound like. Emma and I both have different
situations now; a lot of things have changed since we wrote
the other songs.
Emma: We had quite a lot of problems getting this
album released in the UK and that really affected me. I
couldn't write songs for ages because I was thinking, 'If no
one is going to hear this album what's the point of writing
another one?' I was quite depressed about it, to be honest.
But now, as Lisa says, we have a North American label,
manager etc. in place (and the option to make another record
with the same label) I feel a lot more inspired and have a
lot of ideas. I hope when we tour in the autumn we will be
playing at least 3 new songs.
You mentioned to me that the part of London you
live in is a bit out of the way. Let's discuss the photos
you sent over of some of your favorite places.
Lisa: Emma and I live near each other in a quite
obscure area of London - Kilburn and Cricklewood - not many
people go there.
I noticed in two of the photos you are underneath
signs boasting South Indian food. Do you both enjoy South
Lisa: Oh yes, Indian food in general. It's to us
what Mexican food is to you and the humble 'chicken korma'
was recently voted as the nation's favourite dish. Do you
like Indian cuisine? I didn't notice any Indian restaurants
in the States sadly.
Emma: Yes, it's a bit different to the normal
Indian which is kormas, biryanis etc. South Indian is more
vegetarian/fish and the pancakes, which are called 'dosas',
are a speciality.(It was chicken tikka masala that was voted
the UK's favourite dish but it's not South Indian or even
Indian - it was invented for the British palate,
apparently!).I like Indian food, but restaurants do seem
difficult to locate in the States unless you find locals who
can tell you where to go.
What is your favorite menu item at Geeta
Lisa: Geeta's is one of the oldest Indians in
London - very simple and a bit scruffy. It's run by this
lovely, elderly Indian woman who floats about in a red sari.
The food is so delicious. My fave is the sag paneer. Sag is
spinach and paneer is a type of Indian cheese; almost like
feta but milder. They also do these great pancakes called
iddli sambar. They come with a weird, sour coconut dip.
Please go there if you come over. I've done extensive
research and it's the best one in London.
Emma: Green banana and coconut is my favourite in
Geeta's and my favourite in Vijay's is a green bean and
coconut dish. Yes, I like coconut.
What is your favorite pub and why?
The Salusbury, not officially in Kilburn but a few roads
over in the very middle-class Queen's Park. You can get
French cider in there; my preferred tipple. We took a photo
outside The Black Lion because it's one of the most
untouched Victorian pubs in the city.
Emma: I am not really a pub person but I quite
like the William IV in Kensal Rise - it does great food.
What is the Jubilee (see photo)?
Lisa: Good Lord, it's when we celebrate the
anniversary of the Queen's coronation, of course! One of the
only times, apart from during The World Cup*, that you see
the British getting patriotic. I loved it - lots of Union
Jacks everywhere, village and street parties. We love a bit
of servitude over here...
*The World Cup is when the best football (soccer to you)
teams in the world play in a huge tournament every four
years. This year it was held in Japan/South Korea. England
did OK but the USA did very well. You were beaten unfairly
by the Germans, though.
The Jubilee? Every 25, 50, 75 etc years the state throws a
big celebration to recognise the reigning monarch's time on
the throne. I am not really a royalist so don't really get
into it. The best thing about this year's one (50 years) was
the pop concert held in the gardens of Buckingham Palace
with the whole of the Royal family in attendance. Among the
performers were Ozzy Osbourne (yes, really!), Rod Stewart,
Brian Wilson but the most Spinal Tap moment was Brian May of
Queen playing 'God Save the Queen' on the roof of the Palace
- all excruciating guitar solo grimaces and long, curly hair
being blown about in the wind. Bizarre. ('Jubilee' was also
a seminal, low-budget, art-school film made by Derek Jarman
in 1977 to commemorate the Queen's silver Jubilee/punk
rock/decline of Western Civilisation (type stuff)).
What is the Tricycle Theatre like? The street sign
is quite whimsical!
Lisa: It's an art-house cinema and theatre with an
art gallery. They play lots of foreign titles and,
incidentally, do the best steak and chips in London (the
restaurant is French owned). Kilburn is a real hotbed of
Emma: I haven't seen a play at the theatre but the
cinema is great. I love local cinemas - they always show
crappy ads for local restaurants and stuff. Very
entertaining.Where are some of your favorite places to shop
for clothing or shoes?
Lisa: There's quite a good cheap shop called Benny
D's for underwear. I've got to say though that Kilburn isn't
really the best place for clothes unless you like gold lamé
catsuits and once you've got one...
Emma: I have never bought clothes in Kilburn or
Cricklewood, where I live, but my favourite shops in London
are (if I am feeling poor) Top Shop in Oxford Circus and (if
I am feeling rich) Agnès B, which is a French chain.
What music are you listening to these days?
Lisa: At this exact moment I'm listening to 'Innervisions'
by Stevie Wonder but there's a great new band out called The
Bees, in the vein of The Beta Band - probably only available
to you on import.
Emma: I really like Ladytron and The Czars, at the