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Brother Sister - MNZ Interview: Cross Section S01 / E08 - Brother Sister

22 Sep 2023 // An interview by Shannon Coulomb

Aiming to dissect the cross section between the creative process and the industry side, Cross Section is an exciting interview series hosted by Shannon Coulomb.

Auckland electro-pop band of siblings, Brother Sister, bring their passion for the sound and style of throwback 80's culture to their new EP On A Roll, releasing today, September 22, 2023. Dave Thomson (synth & lead vocals), Taz Thomson (bass and lead vocals) and Ben Thomson (drums) make up the energetic trio Brother Sister. They have shared a womb and now share the stage to deliver unapologetically nostalgic sounds of 80's cartoons and cinema. Pulsing keyboards, programmed drums, driving bass and duelling melodic hooks are expertly blended to take listeners back to the future.

“For us this EP has been a fun journey and emotional outlet which has allowed us to celebrate our passion for 80s nostalgic soundscapes and memorabilia in keeping with the bands theme but branching into new sounds and textures we have been itching to use.”

Brother Sister - 3AM (One Shot Music Video)

What did the creative process look like in regards to your new single 3AM and the upcoming EP On a Roll?

Firstly, I fill my 1987 Alf mug with freshly brewed filter coffee then once the caffeine hits I get writing…

Once I had an idea for a song I draft out some lyrics then fumble my way through some badly played keys, bedroom vocals and dodgy drum loops played slightly out of time also on my keyboard and pull together a demo. If it sounds like a song I will get together with my brother Ben Thomson the more scientific music producer of the group and we would re write the track together into a synth popping masterpiece. Then get sister Taz along to bust some vocals and take it to a final shape. Once we had our final tracks in place we headed to the studio to take a final pass at production and mixing. 3am was much the same but the lyrics were written in Fiji when on holiday and pondering some past gone troubling times.

Do you apply the same creative processes to other aspects of the Music Industry, for example, in your approach to marketing yourself?

Ha, yes. Coffee is a must. And 80's toys.. we are all collectors of 80's/90's nostalgia, so it brings us joy to weave that into our visuals and promo.. At the moment we have an artist friend working on a sweet Stay Puff Marshmallow Man illustration for one of our Japan tour posters.

Is your creative process something you feel to have locked down or does it generally change on a song by song/release by release basis?

Not at all.. we have our go to’s, but some songs are created differently.. The lead track from our previous EP SSDD was written by my sister and I whilst drinking beer in the band room and cussing on the microphone.

What qualities do you appreciate the most in other musicians?

I personally work with a lot of musicians as I am also a music video director and producer. I absolutely love musicians, there is a sense of joy and contentment that just flows out of these humans when they are performing and creating their art. I think it’s where it all comes from for most of us.. A bubbling core of musical passion.

Brother Sister has some upcoming shows across NZ and in Japan. If you could collaborate with another NZ musician/band, who would it be?

So excited for our up-and-coming shows.. We are playing at some amazing venues with some great bands. Japan will be wild. Well, we would love to work with Disasteradio / Eyeliner on something, absolutely love what he does. We would love to do an 80s rap song, so keeping our eyes out for someone to work with there.

How do you keep an eye to the future in regards to your work and work ethic? Do you generally focus on just the project at hand or are you considering how it fits into a larger plan?

We are always talking about the next idea… like a creative whirlwind, but we do try to park the ideas until we get through the current project. I often create mood boards for music video concepts as the ideas come to me then roll back to them when we are ready. We are filming one this weekend from an idea that came about whilst looking at 80's Christmas sweaters last year.

Where have you had the most success in terms of marketing to the Aotearoa audience? If applicable, has this translated well to an international market?

We have had a real mixed bag so far, some radio play and usually a great response from our live shows… I think we are still finding our feet as to where we sit in New Zealand. But we have taken a lot of joy in performing at a few Pop Culture expos.. We love the people that attend those. We are playing at “The Retro Event, NZ’s largest 80's/90's culture expo” at Barefoot and Thomson stadium on November 11th so that will be fun. Internationally we will find out when we adventure over to Japan!

There are so many resources available to musicians in Aotearoa, such as Muzic.net.nz, Music Managers Forum Aotearoa, APRA/AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ. Have any of these (or other) NZ resources played a significant role in your journey so far?

There are and we should use them more… We have been so busy creating lately we haven’t been reading enough.

Has having access to these resources led to any break-through moments for you, particularly in regards to crafting a successful narrative in your online presence?

No but I hope they will once we read them.

Are there any other resources that you would recommend to NZ musicians who are coming to terms with the business side of the craft?

For us we just make sure we are talking to other artists about what they have been up to and what is working for them, we always find that inspiring and enlightening.

*****

Shannon Coulomb is the co-songwriter, guitarist and producer for Auckland Based band Impostor Syndrome. He also plays bass for Swerve City and is currently the Head of Music at Birkenhead College, Auckland, as well as a tutor for Music Education at AUT University.

Impostor Syndrome:
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Swerve City:
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