Amid a constant sea of new local bands, Mesa-based Sister Lip provides a refreshing twist in the music mecca that is metropolitan Phoenix. The jazz-inspired all-female group, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month, has been brightening up local venues around the area and across the country with its unique and soulful vibes.
Sister Lip consists of vocalist and guitarist Cassidy Hilgers, keyboardist and vocalist Jenny Rebecca, drummer Ariel Monet and bassist and vocalist Cheri French.
“(Our formation) was an accident,” Monet said. “They asked me to fill in for them until they found a better drummer. I’m good, though, so it doesn’t matter.”
According to the group, the fact that they are all female is incidental as well. Hilgers and Rebecca were the only two left from a previous project, and they were seeking out new members. The band originally had a male drummer. Then, after seeing French’s bass skill, Sister Lip was formed.
“Our bassist happened to be a girl. She’s really good, and she was just born that way,” Monet added.
The group released their first EP in February and released an acoustic album in July. Sister Lip went on an acoustic tour to showcase their skill and said their acoustic album is more of a demo rather than an embodiment of their normal sound.
“It’s definitely the more detailed version of our music,” Rebecca said. “Our live stuff is louder. (With this album) we could sing the vocals more separately and everything is very low-sounding.”
Sister Lip is planning on creating both a cdbaby account and a Spotify in order to purchase that acoustic album and future ones. The band does plan on recording another full-length album once funding is received.
“We recorded a single (“Flat Pillow”) at this studio called Chaton,” Hilgers said. “I think we’re just going to go around and do one (song) at one place and another at another place.”
Until then, their EP is available for free download and most of their acoustic tracks are available as well for $1. While the whole acoustic album is not yet available online, it can be purchased from the band at shows.
“There’s just some songs that you should have to pay for,” Monet said. “But we don’t care if people burn it and give it to a friend, that’s totally chill. Just give it to your friends, your dog, your grandma. Someone the other day was like ‘I’m really sorry I burned a copy for my mom’ and I’m like ‘burn ten more, I don’t know.’”
Sister Lip’s music embodies soulful jazz/blues with a few twists of modern beats and guitar riffs. Hilgers’ voice is full of vibrancy, pairing well with the smooth melodies belted out by the three other members and her own jazzy picks. Notable qualities are Rebecca’s powerful chords and use of harmonica, as well as Monet’s contemporary approach to syncopated beats and French’s stellar bass riffs.
Self-described as “jazzy blues rock,” each of the members has her own personal inspirations. Hilgers’ pick is Jeff Buckley, Rebecca’s is Regina Spektor, Monet’s is Neon Trees and French’s is lesser-known indie music, most notably Victor Wooten. Although the band has different influences, their sound is hard to compare to another artist.
“I don’t even try anymore (to compare us to anyone),” Rebecca said. “I can’t even.”
Sister Lip has performed at a number of locations in Phoenix and Tempe, as well as across the state. These venues include Phoenix’s Trunk Space, Lawn Gnome Publishing, Last Exit, and The Firehouse. The band also went on an acoustic tour throughout the United States and Canada, visiting California, Oregon, Washington, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, New York, Tennessee and Louisiana.
Rebecca and Hilger’s previous band name was called Sister Foos. When newly formed, the band knew that they wanted to remain “sister-something.” After booking a show under the name JuJu Kittens, the real name needed to be chosen.
“I was laying in bed about to go to sleep, closed my eyes, and Sister Lip came to my mind,” Hilgers said. “I typed it in on my phone and thought ‘Hmm, maybe.’ I still have it on my phone.”
Now Sister Lip has an immense local following. Throughout their journey to the ultimate goal of being successful through their passion and traveling the world, fans in the area will continue their treasured mantra: “SISTER LIPPIANS UNITE.”