Call & Response: Tasseomancy

Tasseomancy are twins Romy and Sari Lightman. Their voices together sound delicate and brittle, yet as their LP Ulalume tells us, their folk strains hide a sharpness.

Ulalume follows a dark path, as songs like "Heavy Sleep" and "Healthy Hands (will mourn you)" hold your imagination in the shadowiest of moments. The twins hold you under a spellbinding narrative with playful tricks: Mythical imagery and sombre, mysterious lyrics envelope you into a world where light is sparse and night is never-ending.

In our interview, Sari talks about the inspirations behind Ulalume, their recent tour, and provides a glimpse of the future, a brief exhibition of tasseography.

Ulalume was recorded last winter in Montreal, a city known for its harsh winter weather. How did recording in that environment influence the dark and dreary tone of the LP?

The album was definitely influenced by the Montreal winter. We had long recording days, and the by the middle of our session, it was already dark outside. Both of us have a true reverence for this time of year. Spending many winters in Nova Scotia, the season has always been about going inward; being introspective, moving less, creating and thinking instead of being too corporal.

There's a timeless sound to your LP, a quality often used to describe the music of Timber Timbre. What made you decide to work with Taylor Kirk and Simon Trottier?

Taylor and Simon are both good friends, and we've been playing shows together with them for a few years now. We also really admire them as musicians, and we share a similar sentiment when it comes to music. The album was truly collaborative, as the two of them brought forth so many elements to our songs that we were really excited about, and it came together in such a way that felt really fluid and honest to the creative space we were in while recording it.

You borrowed the name of the LP from an Edgar Allen Poe poem of the same title. Besides the name, what else links the LP to the poem?

Initially, we just we both really drawn to the beauty of the title of the poem, but when we looked further into it, there's the theme of loss, and multiple realities existing all at once. We tend to jump from place to place with our songs, linking ideas, both lyrically and sonically into fragmented pieces.

And like the Poe poem, your LP roams towards realization through lyrical fragments, image repetition and the idea of remembering. How would you describe the story behind Ulalume?

The album was written by both me and my sister in several different habitats throughout the past two years. Romy wrote most of her songs while spending a winter on the Toronto Island at the Gibraltar artist centre, and I wrote most of my songs in rural Nova Scotia and Europe. These songs carry the experiences of the time we spent in there. And we were transitioning from a more rural, slower living to life in Toronto, and getting older, sharper. We feel a lot older now. A bit haggard, but still hopeful for how things are going to go for the human race.

I hope for more earnestness and less apathy, but that's not what the record is about.

There's a surreal and transcendent quality to the track "Up You Go, Little Smoke" - one of the softer tracks in the LP. Can you say something about this track?

Romy wrote this song a few years ago, and we were deliberating taking it off the album, but I'm glad it stayed. It lightens things up before it gets dark again.

Being twins, are there intuitive powers your minds share that make it easier to create music? How would you guys describe the song-writing process?

It has its strength and weaknesses. When you know someone so well, you have to be conscious of letting them have their own creative space to grow, even if you're not always into what they're doing. We usually write our songs separately, and then come together to finish them.

What can fans expect at your release show on October 20th at The Great Hall?

Pleasing visuals, band, and dancing.

What's it like touring with Austra? How does playing one musical style to another help you as musicians?

Touring with Austra is really fun for us. It nurtures a totally different side, where we play in clubs and for larger audiences, singing and dancing. I have never danced before being in Austra, but now I don't know why I wasn't doing more of it before. If you asked me a year ago, I would have never conceived that I would be involved in a project as a full-time dancer. It's definitely allowed us to be more playful and loose and confident in our own project.

Can you put your divination to work and give us a little preview for what's to come in the future for Tasseomancy?

A temporary rest from singing and dancing, preferably somewhere really warm or immersed in northern darkness, and then some separate projects, probably non-musical, and a new record next year.


Catch Tasseomancy's Ulalume CD Release Show at The Great Hall (1087 Queen St. West) on Thursday, October 20th. Check the Tasseomancy website for more info on any upcoming shows and record releases.

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