How did Bile Sister get started?
Bile Sister started as a solo project, making music in my apartment, recording weird stuff. I recorded a couple albums using synthesizers, drum machines, whatever I could get my hands on. Then, I started performing the songs live with a sampler and synthesizer. Shortly thereafter, I wanted to expand, bring a band vibe to it. So I had some pals join me. It’s evolving right now with the members that are part of it. We’re in the next phase while making this next album.
What has Bile Sister put out so far?
The first Bile Sister EP put out by a label was Octant Brim, off Inyrdisk. Then, ‘Faucet’ with Healing Power Records. There were tapes and CDs – for a small thing, it was pretty successful-at least more so than before [laughs]. After, I continued to contribute to various compilations which elicited a bunch of different collaborations. Currently, as a band, we’ve been trying different methods for recording, such as in a recording studio (though not exclusively) while focussing on developing our next full album. This time, David Jones and I are writing the songs.
The line-up is going through some changes, correct?
We have had four members in the past, but we will probably move forward as a three-piece. We are very satisfied with the sound we are producing right now. It’s good as it is. We don’t need to overdo it. There are people we perform with who contribute different things at different times. One live collaboration that we are excited about is our upcoming performances with the cult-famed New York icon, Chandra. We will be working with Chandra to prepare for our shows in Toronto (November 12th at the Jam Factory) and New York Nov 14th (one show being at Rough Trade headquarters) , serving as her band. Chandra and I will be singing together. We will be joined by the original guitar player from her 1980 band, The Dance, for a few shows. Stoked!
Is Bile Sister your alter ego?
Until recently, Bile Sister was my brainchild…. and I am very much tied to the concept, so I will know when the vision is self-actualized…and we strive to reach that point, to unify the vision. Now with the band, we grow closer and closer to the vision for Bile Sister. Bile Sister doesn’t have to be my baby, though I feel pretty attached to it. It’s better now with other people having their own creative input. I’m still the centre of gravity though [laughs]. In general, I’d definitely say I have several ‘alter ego’s’, Dohn Valley, DJ Garbage Body…to name a few. In terms of Bile Sister – I’d say it is more of a concept, rather than a person…though I’m aware that the name gives an impression that it refers to a person, a sister named Bile. The concept is intended to be jarring, two unexpected word-pairs juxtaposed. One word reflects a relatable and comforting symbol, with reference to a female identity that typically has a trustworthy connotation. The implication from the other word, bile, completely contradicts typical feelings associated with the word ‘sister’. There is an importance placed on female identity, and the archetypes that have classically come to represent how we view female stereotypical roles. I want to put those roles into question… and re-examine how we define ourselves as women, by means of examining the normative language embedded in society. I am very much inspired by language, word-play, ambiguity and multiple meanings, the sound of words, the structure of sentences… so naturally, the use of language, and words, plays a significant role with the way these themes are expressed for Bile Sister. I enjoy experimenting with the linguistic universals, putting meaning into question by playing with the confines of language. Such linguistic barriers may be symbolic for other fundamental restrictive boundaries we may face, even to the point of inherent confines that own bodies pose by separating us from other things. I’d say I am not Bile Sister… I am ‘her’ ‘manager’ [laughs].
Who are some of your musical influences?
Carol, Tenderness, Chrome, Suicide, Lucia Pamela, CCMC, DNA, Captain Beefheart, Dillinger, Daphne Oram, Kim Gordon, The Space Lady, Chandra, Question Mark and the Mysterians, Melt Banana, The Seeds, Spray Pals, Gravitons, Sister Nancy, Bruce Haack, Wolfcow, Alem Kebede, John Cage, Dara Puspita, Grippers Nother Onesers, Le1f, Invisible Paths, James Ferraro, Barbara Lewis, Lamborghini Crystal, Nico, Terry Riley, The Fall, Aretha Franklin, The Pink Noise, Kool A.D., Aidswolf, Yoko Ono, Bunny Michael, Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons, La Femme, Tommy Wright III, Princess Loko, DJ Paul, Cardboards, Storm Bugs, Tara Cross, YU, Numbers, SWV …the list goes on!
What kind of music do you like out there?
I like so much music ‘out there’. Music from the past, music from the present. I always dig finding obscure gems — the excitement of the ‘score’. It’s like a drug and I can never get enough! I dig home-brewed stuff though, and definitely searching for those experimenting with rap. I dig warbled and weird sounds, and currently I’m re-visiting microtonal music. Also, I very much appreciate those who use sounds from everyday life, in new ways.
How would you describe your sound?
Our music is a new kind of pop. It’s album pop. Sludgy, but emotional and pretty. The song structures have experimental elements. I’d call it avant pop. We like to challenge the traditional song structures, especially with beats. We are not conforming to any rules or being classified in any genre.
It’s not singer-songwriter stuff. What we create happens in the moment. On the first album I didn’t think about song structures in advance – I maybe had a concept and knew that I wanted to achieve a certain thing.
We implement jarring beats that don’t come in at predictable times. And we keep it fast enough that people want to dance. I like that. Hey, we’re still working it up.
Pick 2 or 3 of your songs and tell me about the
Track Your Transit :
This song is based on a few cases of tragic car-related fatalities; strange and extreme dangers related to motor-vehicles and what can happen, even when you feel safe. Essentially, we may not always realize the magnitude of potential danger we face as a result of having power to operate big machines. And though life can show such resilience, it is also so fragile. We live in a time where we have the power to control nature, and this power comes with great responsibility! This song is based on two specific cases that really impacted me, one of which involved a limo catching on fire while on a highway bridge in San Francisco. The passengers, a bridal party including a bride-to-be and her best friends, were trapped in the back of the limo and by the time the driver could stop, they were all dead — stacked in the window separating them from the front. They died as they tried to escape. A tragic story. The other story is also awful, and closer to home. It involves a young Ontario father and family man who went to test drive a car he was purchasing from someone off Kijiji, a community-based online forum for trading, purchasing, job finding, apartment hunting etc. This man tragically never returned from this Kijiji-sought purchase and test-drive. Later, police discovered his incinerated remains, along with remains of another missing person, on the property of wealthy 20’s something year-old millionaire. Just awful. So “Track Your Transit” is based on these car-related tragedies, and it extends into a message or warning to care for yourself and to be careful out there on the road. Be wary of the risks, though not all things can be predicted. These specific tragedies speak to the unexpected fragility of life. We can’t always plan, control, predict or foresee what may happen. So it’s best to do what you can to take care of your end of the street!
This was written when I was getting over a bad breakup. The sentiments lingering are in the song. But specifically, the song is about a dream I had a long time ago, and I found it relevant at the time of the breakup. Also, there are intermittent memories interspersed in the song, based on a camping trip where my friend Vanessa taught me how to chop wood with an axe. The dream: I am in a deserted parking lot, and always walk by a forbidden ‘ghost mall’. One day, I fall to temptation and go inside the ghost mall. Inside, everyone is dead! We get into the elevator (led by a putrid-looking tour guide) and as the door closes I realize I’m trapped and once the doors shut, I will be locked in! I wake up as the doors are closing. The dream is definitely not literal, and was not interpreted superficially. The meaning would take long to explain right now, so I will let others interpret as it pertains to them.
Overall, dreams have an immense impact — to the extent they are examined and interpreted within many interdisciplinary communities and cultures. Personally, dreams have been a significant portal to creative narrative building, and identity. Now, in adulthood, I continue to re-examine myself as a result of my dreams, and my dreams continue to re-examine me.
What’s coming up this year?
We would love to tour across Canada. Currently we have a US tour in the planning stages. We have a few New York shows booked. We will be applying for some festivals in Canada this year too.
How would you define success for Bile Sister?
That’s a tough question. I guess success for Bile Sister is very much dependent on whatever current goals we may have. Since goals are always changing, success isn’t a permanent tangible thing. It’s more about finding ways to expand and grow. Success may be a means to achieve whatever is needed to access new ways of exploring things we were not able to prior. It’s about future aims that are continuous, with no end.
I find that community building is emblematic of success — and seeking new ways to constantly reach more people, to expand a community and build strength in numbers, that’s a powerful thing. There are many ways to reach more people, and it seems to be done in steps. Finding the next step is key. The more you engage with people, the more those people open doors for you. It’s a two-way street, an adventure. More about the journey than the destination. However little the destination, goals need to be set, I’d say, to find out where to go next. I wish I knew what the clear path looked like! Ultimately, to be in a place where we can make a difference, if ever in a position to help others or do good in the world, and to live comfortably by making art — this is a dream. What does this current freeze-frame in time look like for Bile Sister? Currently, some goals are related to exploring new territory…literally! Touring (and being part of shows on tour that are well-attended), finding help with managing and publicity — like a record deal of sorts — grant writing, website making, festival playing, etc. And musically, there are creative goals — new things we are trying when it comes to recording and performance. It’s exciting!
Could you explain the name?
We used to hang around the kitchen a lot – having a few beers and stuff. I used to joke around with my friend Kasper. He’s a postal worker and a really ‘out there’ dude. We would make up funny words and jot stuff down. He just started calling me Bile Sister. The two words together are shocking and slightly humourous.
What do you think of the NDP getting in Alberta?
I cannot speak for other people, nor do I claim to be an expert by any means…but in general I know it’s a very big deal, NDP getting in Alberta… history-making. I am curious about the specific platform, promises and plans, especially in regards to Alberta’s climate change strategy related to their pipelines and oil industry. Alberta’s environmental responsibility is a hot topic, and I think people are ready to address it, but what that it looks like to Albertans — to Canadians, and to international neighbours — we shall see. I hope, however, leaders’ decisions will be founded on more than a desire to simply make an impact beyond their ‘environmental reputation’. I do hope that our leaders help us care for our precious earth, even if it’s under the guise of generating economic growth and helping generate more jobs opportunities. A good plan cares not only for the economic wealth, but also takes global warming seriously.
On another note, it is important that we see female leaders in Canada (and in the world), to represent diversity and to ‘even out’ the playing field. I’m glad to see Alberta has chosen a female to represent the province. Symbolically, if people want change, then people should damn well get it!
Ultimately, an overarching sentiment as a result of being asked this type of question: I feel my generation of artists is more complacent when it comes to speaking out about issues that affect our world, at least within the communities I know. I’d like to see peers get more involved (myself included), because (without sounding too ’sappy’) together we can make a difference.