In the wake of the release of Bristol trio Sœur‘s new EP, we had the pleasure of picking their brains about their experiences surrounding this record.
You discuss ‘post-traumatic growth’ in this record – an ultimately positive message. However, would you say that fights can ever have a winner?
Tina – It depends on what your definition of ‘fight’ is. It’s not physical, it’s not a push back against constructive criticism, it’s more about trying to understand people and situations on a deeper level and being responsible for what you think and say. The fight against ignorance is an important one. Ignorance has put us in very tricky situations over the years and being well informed as well as pushing back when needed is so important. So yes, the right fight produces winners all round.
Anya – Yes, definitely. In fact, I think even if we feel we’ve lost a fight, there’s still something to be gained, to be learned, to be ‘won’, in a sense. Post-traumatic growth is a perfect example of that; it takes us at our most broken, our most fragile and rebuilds us in a more resilient way. It deconstructs us and allows new growth.
Can you offer any more thought about how we use social media to present ourselves? Do you think that this is potentially dangerous behaviour that is becoming more and more normalised?
Tina – As a band, social media is integral to our success. There may be bands out there that have managed without it but it helps us no end and so we engage with it. We live in a very tumultuous time, technology has advanced so quickly it’s difficult to get a hold on it and understand it before it evolves into something else and it’s addictive in ways we never foresaw. People usually present their best selves on social media and whilst it gives the illusion that people’s lives are always great, which can be damaging, I think most people know that that isn’t reality. It’s all about education, understanding what it is and managing it.
Anya – I think everyone’s still sort of finding their feet with how to present themselves on social media. Certainly, for the most part, people tend only to post about their best moments, to present their best selves and this creates the illusion that everyone is so much happier than they are. The irony that social media is making people less and less sociable is palpable. We are so entrenched in this world that we lose sight of the bigger picture and become obsessed with the projections of personal perceptions that persistently propel the manifestation of our collaborative creation. However, recently, I have seen a surge of people using social media as a platform to open up about all kinds of struggles and to reach out to communities and ask for support. I think social media has helped a lot of people find groups of people they can identify with, that don’t necessarily appear in their day to day lives.
Outside of music, what would you say fuels your craft? What inspires the passion in your delivery?
Tina – I’d say people fuel my craft. I’m inspired by people everyday. When I see someone killing it, it engages me and I’m drawn to them. I’ve busked for a living for about 4 years now, and so I often stand singing for 3-4 hours a day watching the world go by. In this time I’ve seen people recover from drug addictions, go through messy divorces, get promotions, get married and it’s all inspiration. People are amazing.
Anya – I think I’m a naturally very emotional and passionate person which comes out in lots of ways, usually not very constructive or useful ones. Music has always been a safe space for me to express myself and an effective way of processing my emotions. I’ve spent a lot of time working on my mental health, getting to know myself, understanding my behaviours and working through the traumas that have stuck with me but I honestly think it’s that trauma, that loss, that pain that fuels my passion to create.
2018 has been super busy for you guys, and you’re booked all the way through November. You’re gonna let yourselves have Christmas off, right?
James – It’s certainly been an exciting journey this winter! Pretty much as soon as this tour is over, we’re back in the studio to record the next EP and then we have another weeks worth of touring in December. I’m sure we’ll have a bit of time for mince pies and Christmas films then as soon as 2019 comes we’ve got a lot to be working on! Exciting!
How much does touring so extensively take its toll on you?
Tina – Touring at this level is easy, especially when you’re not the driver haha. We’re doing what we love the most and we book our tours so we make sure the drives aren’t too taxing. If anything takes it’s toll, it’s being away from family and loved ones. And maybe the waiting around, but I just bring a good book.
Anya – I don’t think our tours have necessarily reached the point where they feel ‘extensive’ yet but I’m sure that’s all relative anyway. Being on tour is a whirlwind of emotions and personally, I find a lot of them tough to deal with. There’s a lot of waiting around, lifting, setting things up, packing them down and only ever a brief window of each day that we actually get to do thing we love doing but it’s worth it for me.
What would you say has been the biggest struggle in your career so far?
James – Nothing has felt massively difficult so far. We’re all team players so any hurdles are soon cleared. We’ve met many great people along our way that have helped with our ideas. At the moment we just want to play as many shows as we can and gain as much exposure as possible, sometimes that can feel like a struggle as we’re quite a small fish in a big pond and every band seems to have their pla(i)ce. HA!
Tina – Having to keep up work commitments as well as putting in all the work needed to maintain the band is hard. We’re pretty much on call 24/7 and it’s always in the back of my mind, it’s important to have down time but it’s just not possible at the moment.
Anya – Overcoming my confidence issues has been a massive struggle for me. Being in a band is very demanding of confidence, not just in writing, playing, performing and recording but in the way you look, speak and act as well. I have days where I feel completely useless, I feel like a fraud who can no longer keep up the facade of a ‘musician’, it’s soul-destroying, to be deflated by the thing that I feel defines me most but I’m getting there.
On a more positive note – tell us some of your highlights!
Tina – Supporting Demob Happy was amazing, they’re such good company as well as a great band. Playing festivals, playing BBC Introducing Live and this current tour has been such a marked improvement on our previous tours. The shows have been well attended up and down the country.
Anya – Yes, as Tina said, the Demob Happy tour was amazing! Reading & Leeds was completely surreal and having the chance to record at Maida Vale studios was insane!
Looking forward, do you have any plans in the pipeline? How bright is the future looking right now?
Tina – The future always looks bright, we’ve been booked for a few festivals next year, we’re recording our next EP and have a bunch of songs written for whatever happens next.
When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?
Tina – I’d like to be remembered as hard-working, happy and determined.
Be sure to check out Sœur’s brand new EP, Fight here:
Sœur are on the road this Winter at the following dates:
28th Nov – BIRMINGHAM, Hare & Hounds
9th Dec – LONDON, Camden Assembly
10th Dec – SOUTHAMPTON, Joiners
11th Dec – BRIGHTON, Green Door Store
13th Dec – NEWCASTLE, Head of Steam
14th Dec – NOTTINGHAM, JT Soar
15th Dec – BRISTOL, The Old England
16th Dec – BRACKNELL, Acoustic Couch