They seem to be going from strength to strength right now with some powerful new music and a hectic touring schedule, for Bristol based grunge trio Sœur this is just the beginning of the journey. With Festival season kicking off this month and an appearance at Farm Festival this summer, I thought I would take the opportunity to catch up with them to find out more about their new music, tour life and who is most likely to get them in to trouble.
How is the tour going?
JAMES – Yeah it was a busy start to the year, touring in March and April promoting a new single release and then support shows with Dilly Dally, Orchards and Black Futures. We’ve been overwhelmed by the response we’ve had in the new cities we’ve managed to reach so far this year, it can always feel a little daunting the first time you play in a new place but we love getting out on the road and wish we could do more often, thankfully our post festival touring schedule is shaping up nicely.
ANYA – as Jim said, it’s been busy and a little overwhelming at times! We’ve been incredibly lucky to have been invited to play with such wonderful bands and to have had people showing up to see us in places we’ve never been before.
TINA – It’s been a really great first half of the year. After festival season we’ll be touring again with Saint Agnes which we’re really excited about.
You have a busy festival schedule this summer including Farm Festival! Apart from performing, what is your favourite part of the festival season?
JAMES – I love bumping into fellow bands we’ve met with along our journey, there’s always another band on the bill you know and it’s just nice to have a catch up, festival season is also a great to discover loads of new artists. And then of course there’s the food vans…the competition of who can find the best festival meal.
ANYA – I love the sense of unity you get at festivals, which I suppose is the same feeling you get at gigs but on a mass scale. Usually, people are friendly and happy and care free, they’ve left their day to day lives behind them and they’re just open to the overall experience.
TINA – Watching other bands is the best. We often find our new favourite bands at the festivals we play. We discovered De Staat at 2000 Trees last year and so when they came to Bristol a few months back, we were well on that. Good weather always helps too.
What will you be bringing to Farm Festival to make your set in particular memorable?
JAMES – There’s usually loads of hair flying around on stage, not mine of course… Anya’s hair actually got caught in Tina’s guitar once, it was all mid mosh so they had to battle it out “just rip it off” mid set so maybe something similar will happen again…that’ll make it memorable!
ANYA – my guitar… she’s pretty memorable. But then I would say that.
TINA – We’ll be bringing our good selves and some new songs. We like to think that our live shows are memorable enough without having to use gimmicks but hey, you might find a dance routine somewhere in there. Who knows.
Which one of you is going to cause the most mayhem at Farm Fest?
JAMES – Tina…we have to give her a tracking device so we can find her…she turns into the tasmanian devil the second that wrist band goes on, I’d keep out her way if you see her around.
TINA – Not me. I’m a chilled sort of gal.
What has the response been like for the powerful single ‘No Show’?
JAMES – It’s been good I think, we’ve been that wrapped up in other stuff that I don’t think we’ve really taken time to think about it.
ANYA – I was anxious to put out something that was so blatantly about depression but the response, particularly at our live shows, has been amazing. Almost every show, someone has opened up to me about their own struggles and to be completely honest, that’s everything I ever dreamed of when deciding to start a band.
TINA – It’s gone down really well. The message resonates with a lot of people at the moment and so it’s always great to hear that it has helped people in some way.
What was the process of writing this song? Did you find it cathartic?
ANYA – Our process is always different but I think with this one, we couldn’t work with the original idea for ages, it got shelved and then at some point we came back to it. My perspective in the song is of someone struggling with depression and Tina comes in with the perspective of someone struggling to help that person. It’s important to us both that we write something that rings true to us as individuals, even if we’re coming from different standpoints. I think every time I write, it’s cathartic. It’s the safest way I know how to express my emotions, to understand them, to process them and I suppose eventually to let them go.
TINA – I think for Anya it was probably very cathartic. She started writing it about depression. I’m lucky enough that my mental health has been quite healthy throughout my life and so my contribution to songs like this is to try and give a positive alternative. Life is tough, but we can smash it.
This time next year what would you like to be saying about the year you have had?
JAMES – That it’s been the best year we’ve ever had on this planet! We’re really wanting to ramp things up in terms of Soeur so it’s going to be an exciting 12 months.
TINA – Progression is always key. You don’t want to be stood still for too long. Next year, it’d be great to say we’ve improved as musicians, people and band mates and that our year was productive. It’s taken us a bit longer to get this EP out than we’d hoped but writing for an album is going really well and so I hope to see some momentum working on that towards the end of the year.
Do you think the music industry has changed much since you started out?
JAMES – I started out quite a while ago with previous bands so I’ve seen a few changes in certain areas but I think the main challenges for being in a band are the same. Just get out on the road and play shows if you want to build a solid fan base. Social media helps in some areas but at the same time do you remember what you saw on your instagram feed yesterday? or do you remember that gig you went to last week?
ANYA – I think the music industry is constantly changing, probably faster than anyone can really keep up with but our reasons for wanting to be a part of it never change and I think that’s the most important thing. It’s easy to get bogged down in the ‘admin’, in the latest trends and the newest ways to engage your audiences so it’s important to remind ourselves that we love what we do and that is why we keep doing it.
TINA – Definitely. I started about 9 years ago when streaming platforms weren’t widely used. Social media wasn’t the beast that it is today but I think that’s more a comment on our everyday lives rather than just the music industry. We’re tied to our smartphones, and the internet is everywhere. People stream more music than they buy so I think there’s more emphasis on building a good live show. I’m not complaining though. It means that anyone and everyone can enjoy music and enjoy making it, and that can only be a good thing.
You’ve had various acts support you at gigs over the past couple of years. Are there any who continue to be on the radar that we should be looking out for?
JAMES – Yes..Trigger Thumb, CLT DRP, Hoopla Blue are just a few.
ANYA – So many! CLT DRP are one of my favourite bands going at the moment, their singer Annie is kind of my idol, though all three members are outstanding at what they do. I saw a great band called Pet Semetary at our Oxford show earlier in the year and am really interested to see what they do in the next year or so! I’ve also been keeping my eye on Bristol band Sans, who played Thekla’s 35th Anniversary show with us and get gnarlier every time I see them. I could do this for hours but I’ll leave it at that for now.
TINA – So so many. No Violet, Indigos, Sans, Trigger Thumb, Valeras, Husky Loops, Vukovi, CLT DRP to name but a few!
If you could have a Soeur festival, what would happen?
JAMES – So long as I got to do a 2 hour DJ set I don’t think I’d mind what else went on!
ANYA – Oh my, this would be a dream. I think we’d get all the best vegan food vendors we know… Greasy Vegan in Cardiff, Thali Cafe Bristol, Biblos from Bristol are just a few favourites. I love a good beer so I’d most likely orchestrate a bar full of all my favourite craft breweries… Left Handed Giant, Verdant, Wiper & True. Music wise, I could spend a lifetime trying to decide but if I could get Bjork, PJ Harvey and Radiohead, I’d probably die happy. We’ve always talked about how awesome Daft Punk would be at a festival and we all love Queens of the Stone Age so let’s chuck them in there for good measure. I need to stop now, my brain is whirring.
TINA – All of our favourite bands would play, the weather would be glorious and everyone would have the best time.
Which causes would you say mean the most to the band?
JAMES – I’d say we’re all pretty big on climate change and equality, mental health plays a massive role within the band.
ANYA – I think Jim’s got that one nailed.
TINA – Any topic that needs a conversation.
Top 5 tips on how to get through a festival?
JAMES – Plan your day, plenty of water will help those hangovers, protect yourself from the sun, ear plugs and toilet roll.
TINA – Bring baby wipes, ear plugs, water bottle, a hat and some wellies (you never know). I like to bring a small stove so I can make myself a cup of tea in the morning. Then I’m ready for the day.
Limited tickets are still available for Farm Festival just click here!