Twin Sister: TAS In Session
Twin Sister is a clever exercise in duality. This pop-and-dance loving band claims both Long Island and Brooklyn as their home turf. They love a good 70s disco tune, but relish a poignant, melancholy twist in their songs.
After releasing their crafty 2010 EP Color Your Life, which featured the breathy kiss of "All Around And Away We Go," Twin Sister signed with Domino Records. Their eclectic and spirited debut album, In Heaven, came out earlier this year and the band will launch their first headlining North American tour this January.
The quintet — Andrea Estrella, Gabe D'Amico, Eric Cardona, Dev Gupta and Bryan Ujueta — plays Bowery Ballroom on December 17 and they dropped by The Alternate Side not long ago for a session, playing In Heaven selections like "Bad Street" and "Daniel."
You can hear the session this Friday, December 9 on TAS on 91.5 WNYE or streaming on The Alternate Side. Or after the fact, listen to the archived session here.
Alisa Ali: I understand that you guys are [from] Brooklyn via Long Island. When did you move to the old BK?
Gabe D'Amico: Well, there’s always been some amount of us living there.
Andrea Estrella: The three of us with microphones don’t live in Brooklyn. I live on Long Island. Suffolk County.
Alisa: How did you meet and get together?
Andrea: We’ve been friends for a long time. High school.
Alisa: Did you all go to high school together?
Andrea: No, we didn’t. But we’re a couple of towns apart from each other. A five minute drive. Some of us a little further. But we used to meet at shows when we were in separate bands when we were younger. We used to hang out and we became friends forever. So we’d always be playing Long Island shows, since I guess that was the only thing you could do on the weekend.
Alisa: [What of] those songs from all of your other bands? Did you guys hold on to them?
Andrea: The song we just played, “Daniel,” is about five years old. It’s had many makeovers.
Alisa: So you kept all of the tapes from all of those different band?
Gabe: In some ways we have recordings of every act, yeah.
Andrea: I don’t think we really recorded that much. We used to practice and play live back then so there aren’t that many recordings.
Alisa: So before you made this record, did you go back and listen to some old tapes for inspiration?
Eric Cardona: Andrea likes to look forward only. And that’s fine because we are constantly revising ourselves and going back to things we’ve done in the past. Making little collages of other things. So it’s best that Andrea not be interested in that or things would go a little overboard.
Alisa: Can you tell me about this next song you’re going to do? Did it start with a guitar riff?
Gabe: It did. It’s called “Stop,” it’s track two on the record. It’s one of the newer ones, actually. It’s the first one we wrote for the record, in our house in Water Mill that we rented for a couple of months. It was fun. We set up in the living room and started working on it.
Alisa: Eric did some singing on that one. Did you take lead vocals on that because you wrote that song?
Eric: Yeah, we tried to swap it around.
Andrea: I was supposed to take a crack at it and I just decided that Eric would be better at it. I had totally different lyrics.
Alisa: Did you come up with a concept or theme for this song and then you went in different directions with lyrics?
Eric: Not really. She had half-a-joke song written.
Andrea: It wasn’t a joke!
Eric: It wasn’t a joke, no.
Andrea: It was about a girl going to a party and a guy was totally messing with her head. And I was like, forget it. Eric’s lyrics were way better.
Alisa: Do you guys tend to collaborate on lyric writing?
Eric: We did more in the past. For Color Your Life, we wrote a lot of those together. This new one is a little more divided.
Alisa: Why is that?
Eric: We just don’t like each other anymore.
Alisa: You have different styles?
Andrea: Mine are more simple and Eric is more poetic.
Eric: I have no clue.
Andrea: He doesn’t know how good he is.
Alisa: I read the mission statement on Domino Records’ [site] which says that Twin Sister want to make music which you could feel comfortable cheating on someone to. Please elaborate. Anyone?
Gabe: Bands don’t usually write those.
Alisa: Were you okay with that copy?
Andrea: Our friend did that.
Gabe: Our manager and record label man. Hunter Giles.
Andrea: You can call and complain.
Gabe: Once you’re a band and you make your music, it’s up to other people to define you.
Alisa: That’s a funny way that he defined you.
Andrea: We all kid around and say stupid stuff so it kind of does fit us. Cheating is natural I guess. The animal in people.
Alisa: I feel that there’s a little Donna Summer going on there. You’re into the disco?
Andrea: Yeah, I love disco.
Gabe: I like her producer, Giorgio Moroder. Techno man.
Andrea: I made the lyrics up. It’s about Latin American life in New York. My family is Latin American. My mom is from El Salvador and my dad is from Puerto Rico.
Alisa: I love the video. It’s so much fun. Is that your family in the video?
Andrea: Family and friends. And people who are practically family.
Alisa: The video is basically a birthday party for this adorable little girl. And you guys are having fun, there’s a piñata going on which I feel that every good party [should have]. Was that a family member?
Andrea: They’re practically family. They helped my mom when she came over here.
Alisa: Do you think that at some point you’ll do a song in Spanish?
Andrea: I was thinking about it. We had other songs in Spanish in the past. One day.
Alisa: “Bad Street” iis seriously funky. The thing that I found interesting about this record is that all the songs are so different. So many different styles integrated into your sound. Is that because there are so many people in this band who have different loves of different types of music?
Andrea: It’s partially that and partially because a lot of the songs have different characters. There’s different stories, different characters and we kind of make a whole theme or world for each character.
Alisa: You mentioned before that you guys went out to Long Island and rented a house to make this record. How long were you in that house?
Eric: We were there for four months. In the winter. It was crazy.
Andrea: My dog loved it. Lots of stairs. Beds to go under and hide with toys.
Eric: We threw a New Year’s party that was really fun.
Alisa: Was it just you guys in Long Island in this house?
Eric: Yes, some of us lived there, some would go back and forth.
Andrea: I went back and forth between there and my family because I love my family and need to see them all of the time. I was on tour so when I came home, I needed to see them a lot. So I’d go back and forth.
Alisa: I saw on your website that you were feeling a little isolated in that house.
Eric: That’s true. A little bit. We got cabin fever. It was snowing and we wouldn’t leave for a couple of days.
Andrea: And in the winter there isn’t much going on. It’s very touristy in the summer.
Eric: Bryan became a fireman. He did the fireplace every night. Shirtless, going outside to get logs.
Andrea: We had a lot of rooms and sometimes friends would come and hang. Our friends from Holiday Shores, from Tallahassee, Florida. People were camping out, making dinner and watching movies. But our cars and vans would get stuck in the driveway in the snow. It snowed a lot and we couldn’t get out.
Alisa: So you were forced [to makes songs].
Eric: A little bit of that sometimes.
Alisa: There sounds ilke there were a fair amount of distractions.
Eric: There were. We were close to our homes, friends and stuff.
Alisa: Where did you actually record the album?
Andrea: Minor Street in Philadelphia.
Eric: We were there for four or five weeks. We recorded the two EPs all at home and mixed them.
Andrea: And it took forever.
Alisa: You guys are going to do a pretty big tour, aren’t you? Away for how long?
Eric: We’re doing our headlining tour in late January and February.
Twin Sister Tour Dates:
12-15 Miami FL - Bardot #
12-17 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom*
01-22 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's *
01-23 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel *
01-24 Greensboro, NC - Blind Tiger *
01-25 Atlanta, GA - The Earl *
01-26 Tallahassee, FL - Club Downunder *
01-27 New Orleans, LA - One Eyed Jacks *
01-28 Houston, TX - Fitzgerald's Downstairs *
01-29 Austin, TX - Mohawk (inside) *
01-31 Phoenix, AZ - Rhythm Room *
02-01 La Jolla, CA - The Stage @ Porter's Pub (UCSD) *
02-03 Los Angeles, CA - The Echo *
02-04 San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall *
02-06 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge *
02-07 Seattle, WA - The Vera Project *
02-08 Vancouver, BC - The Media Club *
02-10 Boise, ID - Neurolux *
02-11 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court *
02-13 Denver, CO - Hi Dive *
02-15 Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room *
02-16 Columbia, MD - Mojo's *
02-17 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle *
02-18 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Tavern *
* w/ Ava Luna
# with Lrs, Little Beard