Tipped by Grimes, flooded in #pinkdepression, labelmates with Salem and The Klaxons – stream the debut EP of the best singer you've never heard inside
Montreal's most exciting new pop proposition is Mozart's Sister, the melodically-forthright project of Caila Thompson-Hannant, previously of indiepop four-piece Shapes and Sizes. Her 2011 EP Dear Fear was slightly overlooked - despite being bigged-up by Grimes - but now she's signed to Merok and her re-packaged new Hello EP is the chance for her self-tagged #pinkdepression pop to shine.
The EP's only new track is 'Mozart's Sister' (yes, she's named a song after her moniker), an oddly imagistic track with the grandiose sparkle of 80s synthpop where she is "crawling on my hands and knees like a baby". The intimate songcraft of acts like The Blow or Life Without Buildings isn't too far from mind here, but Mozart's Sister is rather more hi-fi as Thompson-Hannant is open-throated on the spacey Italo propulsion of 'Don't Leave It All To Me', while texturally close to freak-folk with the reverbed riffs and propulsive percussives in 'Contentedness'. Hello never gets lost in its looped vocal layers, and it's loads of fun. Stream the EP exclusively on Dazed Digital today, and we also got the lowdown on her favourite sexy movies, Emojis and falling asleep at a rave.
Dazed Digital: You tagged your last EP Dear Fear on Bandcamp as "bedroom paranoia". What hashtag would you use for your new Hello EP?
Caila Thompson-Hannant: I would not describe it the same way. It's weird cause they are mostly the same songs, but they seem different to me now! I would say it's a #pinkdepression or #pinkblues kinda record. It's upbeat but sad. I think pink and blue go well together.
DD: Your song 'Don't Leave It To Me' concludes with the words fear, sex, love. What's your favourite depiction of sex in a movie?
Caila Thompson-Hannant: I think the ones that make a strong impression are often really dirty ones. Like the guy fucking chickens in Pink Flamingos. That was weird. Also the movie Secretary kinda disturbed me as a kid - in a sexy way. But really the ultimate is Titanic - Kate's hand sliding down the steamy car window. Jesus that was incredible as a 12 year old. Just the best thing ever.
DD: Virginia Woolf imagined Shakespeare's sister as an unrecognised female writer. Is your alias Mozart's Sister a riff on this?
Caila Thompson-Hannant: Yes it is. Mozart had a sister and she was a composer also. When I thought of the name I wanted to be the forgotten smart kid in the family, hiding behind the ottoman and sulking during dear brother's recital. I feel safe in the position of underdog and I think there are a lot of advantages to being a bit on the outside. But actually, the song title came first, then I decided I liked it for a name.
DD: You've worn some pretty out-there outfits on stage before. Do you have any new looks planned for your upcoming dates?
Caila Thompson-Hannant: I've been into sportswear lately. Hoodies and sneakers and colours! I just got a florescent orange sweater, and I want a boxy track suit next. I have a couple shows in London but I am such a light packer that I don't really have anything good to wear. I gotta shop. I usually spend quite a bit of time putting my outfit together and then I'll play for 3 minutes and it's all gone to shit cause I'm dancing and sweating and flipping out.
DD: Your new EP is called Hello. Which person, dead or alive, would you most like to say "hello" to?
Caila Thompson-Hannant: Someone strange and mystical. Like the Buddha or someone scary like Rasputin. Just a quick hello to him.
DD: Which time of the day is your most productive for making music?
Caila Thompson-Hannant: 9am - 2pm and then 9pm-2am. The middle of the day is just so lazy! I just wanna nap. So does my cat. So it's hard not to. The day seems too real also. My creative side craves a bit of blurring the edges. Something about the light emerging and retracting frees up the pressures rational thought.
DD: Which language do you think "hello" sounds the best in?
Caila Thompson-Hannant: OMG! There are so many good ones. I think French is the worst. It is soooo hard to say properly. I gotta say English might be my favourite so far. I was getting pretty fancy there and listening to lots of hellos online. But English is soooo cute! And you can say it with so many different inflections and meanings. That's why I picked it for a name. Plus it makes me laugh.
DD: What's the weirdest place you've ever slept?
Caila Thompson-Hannant: Being on tour you end up sleeping in strange places; truck stops, forests, random dudes' beds but that all seems kinda normal to me now. But when I was 15 I slept at a rave in Duncan, a town 2 hours away from where I grew up. I decided this time I was not gonna do ecstasy, I had done it a couple times before and was afraid I was gonna get ADDICTED. So I ended up getting really tired and the rideshare didn't go back till 9 or something. It's just weird falling asleep to drum n bass.
DD: I've seen you tweet about your manicure. What's your favourite nail polish?
Caila Thompson-Hannant: I love pink lately. Baby pink, electric pink, pearly pink. Iridescent sparkles too. But I think I often go back to greens. Alien nails. Painting my nails gives me a lot of joy. When I'm on the road and feeling a bit grotty I find painting my nails refreshes me more than taking a shower. But both is heaven!
DD: To you, what are the Top 3 components that an amazing pop song needs?
Caila Thompson-Hannant: A hook and a little breathing room to digest it. I am constantly trying to involve negative space and rests. A lot of songs that to me are amazing and catchy are the ones that give you a little and let you really savour it. It's great to have a little catch phrase too..."shimmy shimmy ya shimmy yo shimmy yea" for example.
DD: Do you have a dream collaborator, or is it important for you to work alone?
Caila Thompson-Hannant: I'm certainly opening up to collaboration. I've been pretty dead set against it but it's a lot of work in foreign fields to do everything on your own sometimes. I would love to collaborate with another singer. Or an orchestrator. Or The-Dream (let's FACE IT!)