Profile was originally published on uclaradio.com in 2012. The band changed their name to Mr. Twin Sister in 2014.
Tuning into the dream pop band, Twin Sister, is like floating on a bed of clouds. Operating on themes of reverie and romanticism, the Long Island transplants layer cryptic lyrics on a top of beguiling pop sensibilities. Since forming in 2008, the quintet has released two records: the excellently lo-fi In Colour EP in 2010, and 2011’s more polished and tightly arranged, In Heaven LP. Each track on both albums sounds like a quiet whisper, as if lead vocalist Andrea Estella is breathing a secret into the listener’s ear. Twin Sister’s musical influences are as visual as they are auditory. The gang stretches from disco, Kpop, Japanese horror films, and Brazilian lounge-jazz to Bye Bye Birdie star, Ann Margaret. The end result is a sound that incorporates seductive R&B beats, psychedelic drones, hazy 1970s grooves and 1980s electro-funk.
Last week, CEC presented an intimate show at the Kerckoff Grand Salon with Twin Sister and headliner, Toylight. After the performance, UCLAradio.com was able sit down with the wispily charming Andrea to talk about Kendrick Lamar, covert nicknames and speeding ticket-inducing movie soundtracks.
The band is originally from Long Island but how did everyone first meet?
We all used to be in separate bands and we met during local shows while we were still in Long Island and in high school. We were in separate towns so we didn’t go to the same high schools but we would meet up and hang out and we started to write music with each other. We were all friends so we kind of waited until all those separate bands ended. Then we got to together and decided to form kind of a superband. There were other members that we had in mind for this sort of fantasy band and it used to be called the Cream Dream Supreme but that never really happened.
How did you guys come up with the name Twin Sister from the Cream Dream Supreme?
[Twin Sister] was something that Eric kind of pulled out of a hat from an old song of his. We had a bunch of old names; Sperm Whale was one of them. And we ended up picking Twin Sister.
What’s your songwriting process like?
It’s pretty different every time. With these new songs, we’ve been writing them individually and we bring it together and it’s like, ‘Everyone learn a part.’ But we used to just make songs halfway and we would all work on it and like, I come up with a vocals idea and someone comes up with something else. We go back and forth.
The band’s songs are definitely more than just indie pop or chillwave so how would you describe your sound and the influences that go into that?
I like to describe it as fantasy… and butterflies.
The EP, Colour of Life, was an image of a dollhouse and the cover for the full-length, In Heaven, was a cartoon portrait of you. Where do you get your ideas for your album covers?
Everything from my visual artwork to the songs to the lyrics are pretty much all tied together. I had a dollhouse that I was building and I was like, ‘it’d be really cool if this was the album cover’ and then it was. And the cartoon album cover of my head was an artwork by my friend, Jonny Negron. He did that artwork and he does our t-shirts. He’s another friend from Long Island and we all kind just grouped together and hung out a lot. He’s doing really well with his art.
Your tattoo on your left forearm is really interesting. Is that another design by him?
Yeah, he actually designs for me. He did the characters [on the tattoo] in this fun little pose. They’re the Japanese anime characters, Lupin and Jigen.
Your personal fashion style is so out there and you kind of resemble a cartoon character. Is there a particular movie that you’re pulling from?
Not so much movies but I look at Japanese fashion magazines a lot.
Recently, Kendrick Lamar sampled your guys’ song, “Meet the Frownies” for his track, “The Recipe.” Can you tell us the story behind it?
Scoop Deville, I think he heard our song on an airplane or something was like, ‘Oh, I gotta sample this.’ And it ended up being on a song with Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre. I think they did a great job. We really didn’t know what they were going to do with it. They asked us for the song and we thought, ‘Maybe it won’t come out for a year’ or ‘maybe it won’t be a big deal’ but it ended being their single. We were watching them live on Coachella and we were blown away. We didn’t know it was going to be their song of choice. My dad loves [the song]. My dad’s a big Dr. Dre fan. He’s been calling me Dr. Dre since I was little.
Dr. Dre and An-DRE-uh. Is that why he named you Andrea?
No! [Laughs] It’s my great-grandmother’s name [with Spanish pronunciation], Andrea Estella.
Do you give everyone in the band nicknames?
Two of them do. Because I think Bryan, the drummer, and Dev, the keyboardist wouldn’t stand for my nicknames [laughs]. Eric is called Ninny Smith and Gabe, my boyfriend, is called Fing, which is short for Finger-head. Fing-head is how you really say it.
Are there any other artists you’d love to collaborate with?
Yeah, I just saw Some Ember last night and I thought they were really cool. I’ve been seeing Diamond Rings everywhere and I’ve been calling him Whiteout. I call him Whiteout because he has really blond hair but he doesn’t know [about the nickname] yet. I give everyone nicknames. We played with [Diamond Rings] in Austin a couple days of ago. It was the Fun Fun Fun Fest and he’s been a couple days behind us and I’ve been seeing his posters everywhere. And every time I go, ‘Look, there’s Whiteout!’ But that’s not really his name; it’s actually Diamond Rings.
Are there any places that you guys haven’t toured in but would love to?
Japan. It’s really expensive for us [to go there] on the East Coast. Each ticket is around two grand. It’s also a really long flight from the East Coast. I think most bands tour towards the West Coast and then take a plane to Japan because it’s cheaper to fly from here. I haven’t been anywhere in Asia but I want to. I want to go to Korea too. I love Korean food.
What are some new artists that you have been listening to?
I don’t really listen to a lot of new music. Like that band I was telling you about (Some Ember), all they have are cassettes. They’re really good though so check them out. Another person is Avoxblue. He’s a friend of ours and we’re going to be collaborating with him.
Bonus Question! What is your favorite movie soundtrack and why?
I really love My Neighbor Totoro. Joe Hisaishi does the soundtrack and it’s something from my childhood. The music is good even when you take it away from the movie. One time, I was driving on tour with that soundtrack on and it was a beautiful, sunny day. I was so into the music that I was speeding and got a really big ticket. Once you go over 85 [miles per hour], they’re not very nice to you.