Profile photo from their Myspace page.
For Toronto-based twin sister duo, Tasseomancy, music runs deep in the bloodlines, and is as enchanting to the eye as the ear.
“We’re really big on aesthetics, creating a space, and making people kind of enter this environment and bring music to a visual level,” Romy Lightman, one half of the group, told Chart Attack in an April interview along with her counterpart Sari. “For [music] to be a much more sensory experience, that’s what we try to do.”
The Canadian neo-folk outfit began as a simpler creative unit, known as Ghost Bees, but they gave their own name and sound an ethereal spin for their second full-length album, Ulalume. Released in August 2011 by Out of this Spark/Turf and co-produced by Taylor Kirk and Simon Trottier of Timber Timbre, the album is self-described as “dreamy, dissonant vocals, influenced by eastern song, drone music, phonography and myth.” According to Tasseomancy, their music has a projected aim to defy the distinctions set between pop and independent music. Similarly, they strive to find a divergent platform in the Canadian industry, where radio acclaim is not the utmost benchmark of success.
“When we initially started to write music, we weren’t really thinking of things like formula or what the end result would be,” Sari explained. “We’re both sort of intuitive musicians, that’s what comes across in the music. Like there might not be a relief in the song, and I think we’re okay with making music like that.”
Don’t expect their work to confine itself to stylistic restrictions however. In fact, Tasseomancy intends to continue broadening their scope. Though they began as an acoustical duet, Ulalume is soul music stirred by the wilderness, with a subtle synth effect across each track. The sound is reminiscent of Fleet Foxes and Dido; Florence Welch without the bass or giant vocals; and Bjork minus a techno beat. Their lyrics are poetic enough to offer driving rhythm.
“I only reap what my father sowed; brother, sisters, we bowed; every little bump under his flesh; our backs are wilted like a rose,” they sing in “Up You Go, Little Smoke,” the standout of the LP. “Dreams of clouds opening clean; drifting forth in fearless flight.”
Currently on the road with electronic group, Austra, Tasseomancy looks to expand upon the bare acoustics of Ghost Bees by venturing into experimental sonic domain. According to The Stool Pigeon, the name change came along with their maturity, and references the desire to foretell the future through the examination of tealeaves. Their latest work reflects deeper exploration into human multiplicity.
“I think definitely the theme of loss [is important on the album],” Sari observed. “It was recorded in the winter in Montreal, in the dark season… The poem is really reflective, there are these ideas of multiple realities and a sense of timelessness. I think this was something we thought about when we recorded this album, and we happened to find the poem after and it seemed really appropriate.”
We got into contact with the band to find out more:
BreakThru Radio: What’s the dynamic like in a band with twin sisters? What roles does each sister embody?
Tasseomancy: We are very different from each other, and our roles in the band are constantly in flux. We try to avoid any twin dichotomies, but Romy has a visual art background, where I come from a more literary place, and that plays a part in how we approach our project and the music we make.
BTR: Austra is described on your Facebook as an “electronic” project while Tasseomancy is “neo-folk”? Does one influence the other at all or where do you see the intersection? How would you describe your mindset for each project?
T: Although it’s really exciting to be playing in an electronic band like Austra, I think my heart is in the quieter, acoustic realm. Musicians like Robbie Basho and Moondog are my heroes. I do find myself much more interested in electro-acoustic sounds, and I can attribute to my newfound love of electronic artists like Gina X and Zombie to Austra.
BTR: What can we expect from you next as Tasseomancy?
T: A more musically based album. And a bit more upbeat than the last.
BTR: Why did you change your name from Ghost Bees? Was there also a divergence in your approach to music? I notice subtle differences in the sound, so was curious as to your thoughts.
T: We had just outgrown the name. Ghost Bees was the first time either of us had ever even played in a band, and we wanted to shed our earlier ideals of music and performance by taking on a new name.
BTR: Most important item on your tour rider?
BTR: What has been the best experience for you as musicians?
T: Being able to travel to such majestic places and meeting the people who take us there.
BTR: What’s the one thing that gets said about your music or your band that you’d like to refute?
T: That we are very severe. We’re actually pretty funny and can get loose.
Now in between albums, the sisters can be found performing in their home fort of Canada. Follow them on Twitter: @tasseomusic