SISTERS: A toast to family

by Caitlin Cohen

photo by Josie Simonet

Andrew Vait and Emily Westman of Seattle indie pop band, SISTERS, have so much to celebrate. The title of their new album, Pink Champagne, couldn’t be more fitting with everything the duo has accomplished this year.

“It’s my favorite call to action (the message behind their album title), it’s a command,” Westman said.

“SISTERS commands you: drink champagne,” Vait added.

Why champagne?

“It’s the most celebratory drink on the planet,” Westman confirmed.

“Also, Emily’s voice is lovely in a lot of the ways in which champagne is lovely. The sound of Emily’s voice is the way I used to think champagne tastes as a kid. I only had Martinelli’s and it’s gotta be better than M’s if adults could drink it. It had to be the best tasting beverage on the face of the planet. I feel like the flavor I was imagining is the way Emily’s voice sounds,” Vait added.

Besides putting together Pink Champagne, the two both raised their glasses at each other’s weddings within the past few years.

“Emily’s wedding was at the Fremont Abbey and the whole Seattle Rock Orchestra played. I got married in Anacortes at the Port of Anacortes Transit Shed and there were these amazing wood planks which you could see the water through the cracks. It was right on the water, it was just beautiful. The sun was setting,” Vait said. “Those were some fantastic parties.”

Besides both getting married, the duo said another significant triumph is that they found each other in the dark. Making Pink Champagne has brought the two closer together in terms of collaboration. The song writing has become more of a joint effort.

“When we first started playing, we each were bringing songs to the table and then sort of arrange them together. Now, we’re really writing everything together. Our individuality is still represented but we’ve become more of a unity,” Westman said.

Most of their songwriting occurs in their friend’s family cabin on Whidbey Island. They’ll stay in the cabin for a few days to focus on creating new songs—musically and lyrically.

“We’ll write nonstop pretty much for three days straight. We write everything together. We write the melody, we write the lyrics, and we write the music,” Vait said. “We’ll start in a jam and then one of us asks, ‘Okay, what is the song about?’ and we’ll start ripping out ideas. That’s how a lot of songs on the album came together.”

The themes within the lyrics of SISTERS’ songs revolve around human experiences, all the colors of the rainbow, and supporting love in all forms.

“The song “Queer Life,” was one the first song we wrote on that first trip to Whidbey. Two days later, the Supreme Court ruled marriage equality. That’s how we’re writing,” Vait said.

Inclusivity is not only present in the songs but also in the reason behind their band name. Vait and Westman have a very powerful bond—they are the family they have found in each other.

“We feel like that’s (sisters) what we are. It also calls into question: what is gender? What is friendship? What’s a relationship?” Vait said.

“And also chosen family,” Westman adds.

In addition to love and relationships, SISTERS has another message they want their listeners to hear in their songs.

“Imagine you’re in a car and looking at a scene. Someone else in a different car is looking at the same scene. We’re all looking same moon. We’re all disconnected but we’re also totally connected,” Vait said.

See SISTERS Nov. 18 at Make.Shift. For more info, see Their album, Pink Champagne, will be released Valentine’s Day 2017. 

Published in the November 2016 issue of What’s Up!