More about: Sirens of Lesbos
Switzerland five-piece Sirens of Lesbos could probably tell you a bit about learning through your mistakes. The band, whose new single 'I See Stars' dropped this past month, broke into the mainstream music world through first single 'Long Days, Hot Nights', a surface-level Ibiza club banger which left the group feeling creatively unfulfilled almost instantaneously.
However, it seems that initial step in the wrong direction worked in the bands favour: the years spent between its release and their 2020 debut LP Sol allowed them to blossom creatively and understand what sort of music they felt truly compelled to make.
It’s a little ironic then that Sirens of Lesbos are somewhat hard to define, the time spent cultivating their tastes has resulted in a musical melting pot of soulful electronica with helpings of hip-hop instrumentals, with splashes of rock and pop added in for good measure. In conversation with the band from their native Switzerland, I learn that the relative isolation of de-facto capital city Bern is in part responsible for their eclectic style and wide range of inspiration.
“Part of the positive side of living in Bern, is we had to get influenced from music out of Switzerland” Arci Friede, who along with Melvyn Buss produces the band explains. “It can be interesting for an artistic process, because I imagine in Berlin or London you’re in a bubble with those who do the same things or follow the same trends, and we have this privilege where we can watch these scenes and choose what we like to get involved in”.
Vocalist and co-producer Jasmina Serag however, insists that it’s as much a personality factor as a geographical one and expressed that meeting in the studio together is where the creativity gels. “We don’t spend every day together, so we're able to have our own interests, and then bring them back in the studio where we have to work on getting all those things in the mix.”
It's interesting that Sirens of Lesbos are aware of the potential pitfalls of taking inspiration from far afield. Their Bandcamp page declares them as “the new wave of worldbeat” with aims to “shift the genre from folkloristic cliché and cheap exoticism to urban nonchalance” which at first glance reads as a little pretentious, but upon listening to the group discuss their admiration for the genre and its creative potential, is sincere and truthful.
“We love bands like Talking Heads and artists like Peter Gabriel, and they didn’t mean to harm anybody back in the eighties when they were producing world music, it was just the time” Friede mentions, adding that “We still think that the concept of worldbeat, melding different types of music together, is very interesting. But we feel it has to done in a different way and I think we’ve found out how to do it without drifting into those fields of exploiting somethings that’s not ours.”
Latest single 'I See Stars' is a strong example of the unique genre-colliding sound the group are striving for, with the skeleton of the song being a re-interpretation of German synth band Supersempfft’s track of the same name, though given fresh life thanks to the modern production, bright synths and original verses complete with nods to both Wu Tang Clan and Paulo Coelho.
After their initial identity crisis, Sirens of Lesbos seem like a band who wish to remain in charge of their own representation, proven by the way the band praise Denise Häberli who oversees the bands design, graphics and visuals (and is credited as a full member of the group). It's rare that bands have non-musical members included in their line up (though Jasmina playfully mentions Denise does give occasional notes with her thoughts on the music from time to time) and thus is proof of Sirens’ commitment to creative management.
Though not all of Sirens of Lesbos’ independent spirit is intentional, Friede describes self-releasing 2020’s Sol as being more of a pragmatic decision than anything else. “This is the negative side of being a band in Switzerland” he adds, expressing the band feels their location may have played a part in their creative decisions, but as for gaining a reputation and developing it - that's difficult. “No one cares about acts from Switzerland” he says. The pandemic also hasn’t exactly helped groups like them, who at one stage describe Sol as a “lost album”, a musical statement which did garner positive critical acclaim, but one that for obvious reasons didn’t springboard the band onto a European tour or anything of the like.
Regarding their future, the band have recordings ready to feature on a new record, though as Nablya Serag (co-producer, vocalist) notes, whether 'I See Stars' is one of them remains to be seen. “We are enthusiastic to do another project, but we keep it open about what it’s going to be, and if 'I See Stars' is going to be involved”. It’s typical of a band like Sirens of Lesbos to carefully consider the future of the latest single: it shows a reluctance to rush and an appreciation for an organic way of creating and is part of what makes them an exciting act to look out for.
'I See Stars' is out now.
More about: Sirens of Lesbos