tasseomancy create beguiling pop songs from an alternate universe
We premiere the video for ‘Missoula’ from the sisters’ forthcoming album ‘Do Easy,’ and ask them about going to school with Drake.
"Do Easy was seen as a spell. It's kind of magic in a way," explains Romy Lightman of the philosophy behind Tasseomancy's upcoming album LP. Although twin sisters Romy and Sari Lightman are recognized from their time in queer cold-wave band Austra, they have spent years cultivating their own sonic universe as Tasseomancy (along with Johnny Spence and Evan Cartwright). The Toronto-born duo have tapped into their folk origins to explore the otherworldly dimensions of pop music in their new release Do Easy (due out November 18 via Bella Union). The album's atmospheric grooves draw from synth-pop and prog-rock to create a psychedelic pop experience.
The album slides from ambient grooves on tracks like "29 Palms" to the prog-rock vibes of "Missoula." With Do Easy, Tasseomancy have added a bit of magic to the mundane, injecting the pop stratosphere with their own transfixing blend of influence. We caught up with Romy Lightman via Skype for a chat about "doing easy," singing karaoke, and stealing pot from Peaches at summer camp.
Can you tell me about your creative dynamic growing up?
There are a lot of memories from our childhood of us playing together that aren't too far off from our dynamic and how we perform now. We sort of write songs equally but primarily my sister's been more of the songwriter and I feel like my interests in the project have a bit more to do with the performative aspects. There's this video I was thinking about recently of my sister and I, and she's introducing me as this ringmaster. I'm doing this really awkward dance and I feel like it's not really that different. We support each other in ways where we try to give each other full creative permission.
When did you start playing music together?
We started playing music late because where we grew up in Toronto — we actually went to high school with Drake - where we grew up, we weren't really encouraged. I feel like all the boys played in bands and we weren't invited. We never had the initiation of teenagers jamming in the basement. We started busking together at this farmer's market and actually got kicked out because we were singing these dissonant harmonies.
I love the retro vibes of "Missoula." What can you tell me about the concept for the video?
We had three days to make this video and came up with the concept pretty stoned the night before. The concept of the video is in response to a terrifying moment in politics and I feel that's such a huge conversation that we can talk about forever. Sari and I were thinking about how in Toronto there's this really funny local news station called CP24 and we were like, "What if we came up with our own news broadcast that could recognize a reality that was more forming?" This whole idea of really being able to be in the present and be mindful and explore these interactions that happen every day.
What is behind the album's title "Do Easy"?
Do Easy is this discipline written by William S. Burroughs. I was interested in listening to manifestos and life advice on how to get by. It was a survival tactic and then I found the Discipline of D.E. It's kind of like this cute domestic manifesto written by this poet but then when you dig down into it, it's about mindfulness and being present and doing everything with a certain amount of clarity to avoid doing more work in the end, which I really resonate with because I'm super lazy.
How would you describe this album sound-wise compared to your previous albums?
Do Easy is definitely a pop record. I didn't really understand what pop music was. My whole life, I always had an affinity to it. My sister and I were huge fans of The Supremes and listened to a lot of Motown music, so that was a huge influence for us growing up. A lot of contemporary pop music I find very alienating because of the content — how you can't get away from how misogynistic and homophobic a lot of it is and super male gazey. So I feel like as a result I kind of rejected the pop world. I started going to these karaoke nights in Toronto and really seeing the healing power in popular song. It's kind of obvious but it's really a beautiful format for expression.
What do you like to sing at karaoke?
I've been singing a lot of Sade. That's my go-to right now at karaoke. It's funny because I talk about not taking things seriously but I do take karaoke seriously because it's really hard to do well.
On your Instagram, there's a photo of you and Peaches which includes the caption that she knew you as babies.
It's sort of wild but she knew my father. They worked at this hippie summer camp. My dad was the director of this summer camp, and my sister and I were babies. Many years later, my sister and I were in this queer electronic dance band (Austra) and her roommate was working on some costumes for us and had these photos of us that said our names, and she [Peaches] was like, "I knew them when they were babies," and she told this funny story about how I got into her pot stash when were like three years old.
Is there any advice you can give on how to "do easy" in life?
I feel like the idea of doing easy is taking a breath and not being afraid to sit in yourself. To take a breath and come back to yourself and with everything you do, put yourself in it.
Text J.L. Sirisuk
Image courtesy Steven Perlin