by Teyquil Skelton
On a quiet warm night, I entered the world of the band Sis from San Francisco as the lead singer, Jenny Gillespie-Mason, and I, conversated about music, life, mothering, touring, and running a record label. I had an amazing time talking to Mason, as she detailed what her busy life is like musically and regularly, to say the least.
The interview began by talking about Lark in the Morning, a music establishment that has carried musical instruments from all around the world since 1974. The band visits this particular store for new equipment, but also for inspiration, as the band embarks on releasing their new album, Gas Station Roses.
The process began with the band’s synth master himself, Rob Shelton, who visited an endearing music store called Revival out of Portland, Oregon. In the earlier stages of creating the album, Shelton brought in amazing percussion instruments that were neatly tucked away in a suitcase, all from different parts of the world. The band wanted to travel somewhere else creatively and thought that the instruments that Shelton gathered could possibly be a platform for a more earthy, organic, percussive sound moving forward.
Mason also mentioned that they are inspired by also sharing music that each band member is currently listening to, in the hope that it would spark or ignite a fire in terms of thoughts and new concept ideas.
While Shelton sends an 80’s electronic pop band called BlueGas to Mason, she sends Shelton sweet melodic sounds of Nenah Cherry’s album Raw Like Sushi in return. As they shared in one another’s spaces music-wise, the end result is to become inspired while venturing into a world of weird, experimental sounds that compliment Sis and their own journey creatively.
After discussing the music process, I decided to shift gears and get to know Mason and the band members as people and not Sis “the band.” When Mason isn’t performing, recording, touring or writing, she’s mothering, being a wife, and running her record label, Native Cat Recording.
The other two members are quite busy with their own projects, as guitarist Carly Bond, is in another band and Shelton is also an engineer. Though all members are quite occupied in other areas musically, life, in general, is also a priority to take into account as well. As stated earlier, Mason has a responsibility, not only as a music artist/CEO of her record label or lead singer of the band Sis, but she’s a mother of two and a devoted wife to her husband.
Mason also mentioned that there are times when the band abandons the demands of the music and focuses on Shelton and Bond as friends and not just colleagues. Mason explained that sometimes she and Bond would conduct poetry club sessions and exchange poems with each other over lunch.
Mason also points out how valuable time is and that her schedule is crazy hectic as she wears multiple hats and playing multiple roles. In knowing her crazy schedule and how limited it can get at times, Mason is blessed to have found artists like Shelton and Bond to work with at this point in her life. Though they laugh, joke around, smoke a little pot here and there, they’re all are on the same accord in making music the main focus.
If I had to describe to you a way in which a record best describes this band, it would be Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell which Mason mentioned to me during our conversation. Mason’s reason for selecting this album is because of its seduction and captivating energy the album possesses. The band hopes to do something similar with their album, Gas Station Roses, hoping that it would spark the listener’s ear and bring them into their world in which they’ve established and are now open to sharing with the world around them.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to grab yourself a copy, do yourself a favor in making it a priority to do so soon. The album is worth it and if you’re a fan of worth, then you know the necessity of having this LP is urgent.
Here’s an added bonus; Teyquil’s audio interview with Jenny Gillespie-Mason.