If we all changed as much as Mr Twin Sister does, it would be hard to pin down what our identities were. The New York band began as an indie rock act in 2011, switched to electronic chillwave in 2014, and now finds itself in a glitchy electropop world of minimalist soul in 2018 thanks to Salt, its third album.
Salt is a perfect example of how scattered yet polished Mr Twin Sister really are. Despite forays into jazz, soul, DnB, orchestral strings, and horns, the record sounds incredibly singular in its production, giving the feel of a lucid dream in the club. That comes from inherent experimentation and being open to failure. Saxophonist Eric Cardona, for instance, did hundreds of takes on his saxophone and then tried to recapture his original idea, often tossing ideas in the trash that felt stale. Lead singer Andrea Estella toys with how her voice falls and fades. Sporadic moments on Salt are united in how they’re constantly in communal motion. So a song like “Buy to Return” can see maximum vocals blossom in real time while the music fritzes behind it, whereas the opener “Keep on Mixing” feels like a slick, electronic, minimalist work of art that’s intent on letting you get lost in the feeling of dance. Different songs, but somehow they belong on the same record. Salt flickers between these styles, but it never once feels jarring because of how confidently Mr Twin Sister pull it all off.
“This record fell together in a way,” says Cardona. “We’ve always listened to such different types of music growing up and sharing music with one another. We’ve had this large, large, large pool of songs for so long. There was something about these that glued themselves together pretty quickly sonically. We cooked each one down. I think what keeps these songs in the same world is that they operate with the same amount of elements in each song. The core of each song is cooked down, and that’s something I feel very proud of. When we listen back to some old recordings of ours, we feel like they’re a bit overstuffed. So we were craving some air and space, which this glues together. ”
To sort through the complex persona of Mr Twin Sister, we interviewed Eric Cardona and Andrea Estella for a round of Wheel of Tunes, a series where we ask musicians questions inspired by their song titles. With Salt as the prompt, their answers are imaginative and succinct—qualities that will ground Mr Twin Sister’s songs when the band headlines Great Scott this Thursday night.
1) “Keep on Mixing”
DIGBOSTON: If you were DJing a party, what are two songs you would absolutely include in your mix?
EC: Two songs, oof. Andrea is here with me right now, so I’ll let her pick one. We’re both not DJs at all, but we love to put music on. She picks “Pull Up to the Bumper” by Grace Jones. I like the moment in a party when it’s ready to put on “2 Become 1” by the Spice Girls. [laughs] It’s a moment that happens, and that’s a great track.
2) “Alien FM”
DIGBOSTON: Do you think To The Stars Academy, a UFO investigation project started by Tom DeLonge of Blink-182, is a good idea and worth investing in?
EC: Actually, I have heard about this because I’m a Blink-182 fan. [laughs]
AE: I think we should stay out of the sky. We’re doing plenty wrong down here so we should stay out of the sky. We gotta keep it down here. It might fix all of our problems, but I’m done. People are so annoying. We could be saving the Earth! That’s a difficult question. [laughs]
EC: So I think our answer is “No” for that. [laughs]
DIGBOSTON: If you owned one of the largest diamonds in the world, where would you display it?
AE: My first idea is right on my butt.
EC: [laughs] That’s a big diamond though! You would need a case. A silicone case…
AE: Maybe on a shoe. Just one diamond? I have a bad left foot so I would put it on my left shoe, that way it can distract from my limp.
EC: It would be a healing diamond!
4) “Buy to Return”
DIGBOSTON: When is the last time you returned an item you had purchased new and unused?
EC: Andrea is laughing because I do this all of the time. This happened recently actually! I was designing our merch and I was in charge of one piece in specific where, well, should I ruin the surprise? You want me to ruin it? Okay, I’ll ruin it. We don’t have our album to sell on tour. We have containers of salt that we’re selling. [laughs] I could not make up my mind what type of salt to order. So the last thing I returned was that. I ordered a white salt and returned it because it was a very basic bitch salt. So we upped our own game. We got a delicious, smoked sea salt from Maine. And it’s very attractive, so we think that maybe a few people will buy it. I have about four pounds of salt right now that we didn’t use, though. We filled out our quota and had that much left. I wish I could return it, but I cannot. So now I don’t know what I’m going to do. [laughs]
5) “Tops and Bottoms”
DIGBOSTON: Can you describe your favorite outfit you own?
EC: Hmmm. I’m giving this one to Andrea.
AE: I don’t have a favorite outfit, but I think I might all of a sudden start to have one. Because I recently realized I fit into a little boys’ size 18. I’ve always wanted a little suit, but I can’t fit into them. I don’t like how the women’s suits have a curvy hip thing. So I just bought a bunch of Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren little boys’ suits from Macy’s that were so cheap. I got, like, three suits for under 200 dollars. So I plan to wear those a whole lot. One is just gray, another is a shiny salmon, and the other is a linen type [that] has a color called hummus.
DIGBOSTON: If you could be granted one wish today, what would you wish for?
EC: More time before tour! It feels so close. [sighs]
AE: There’s so many wishes! I’d wish for more wishes.
EC: No, you can’t do that. That’s a rule. I’m making it right now. That’s a rule you can’t do.
AE: What was yours, more time before tour? Come on. I wish … I wish people didn’t have pets.
AE: I don’t like it.
EC: But you have so many pets!
AE: Yeah, but I feel bad about it. I feel like we made dogs the way they are so they can’t live in the wild. We have all these weird dogs that are small, boutique types. Birds are incredibly intelligent, but all these birds are stuck in cages. The way people sell them and treat them grosses me out. Even though I have pets and my own birds and I treat them well. If I had to choose, I would choose that they could fly outside, though. They’re at least rescues. But it’s just sad because I know it will never have. We have so many problems that the problem of releasing animals back into the wild is not one of them that will happen.
7) “Taste in Movies”
DIGBOSTON: How would you describe your taste in movies to someone who’s never watched a single film before?
EC: I would say that I want to laugh and I want to cry.
AE: He likes boring movies. [laughs] Mine would be “Do you wanna get grossed out?” I’m in it for costumes and rubber and—
EC: Slimy 3D costumes! She’s a huge horror fan. That’s her thing.
DIGBOSTON: Which part of Indian culture do you think should be more popular or known in American culture?
AE: I’m always blown away by old Bollywood films. The set design! The choreography is so spot on! They dance in spaces of a song that I would never even think to move that quickly during. I don’t know if that makes sense? Like they will add an extra wiggle between drum beats that another instrument did. It’s crazy how big some of those sets are. Americans are like, “Oh yeah, Bollywood, that’s cool.” But you have to look at what they were making during that [old] era too. They nailed it and put so much work into it. And then even when you get people to realize that, everyone’s like, “Yeah, but I don’t understand [the language], so…”
9) “Set Me Free”
DIGBOSTON: What’s something that’s been stressing you out lately that you wish you could rid yourself of?
AE: I would say just everyday anxiety, the kind that doesn’t make any sense. It’s not for any real reason. It just pops up throughout the day, on and off. I’ve been trying to meditate more. That helps me. I can actually sit on the subway now. Every time before then I felt like I couldn’t breathe, like I would throw up. And I needed a puke bag. So yeah, anxiety! What about you, Eric?
EC: That’s it. I think you nailed it. That anxiety is the worst.
MR TWIN SISTER, SATEEN. THU 10.18. GREAT SCOTT, 1222 COMM. AVE., ALLSTON. 8:30PM/18+/$14. GREATSCOTTBOSTON.COM