Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?
Gillian Thomson: The one quality I value most in a friend is genuineness.
Robert Thomson: I always look for honesty in friendship.
W: What is it that really makes you mad?
G.T.: What really makes me mad is when I see someone being treated unfairly.
R.T.: Anytime I see a person take advantage of someone who is vulnerable or defenseless.
W: When are you at your happiest?
G.T.: I am at my happiest when I am creating art and being around loved ones.
R.T.: When I’m with the people I love.
W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?
G.T.: The one word that best describes me when I’m at my worst is “stubborn”.
W: What one person do you most admire and why?
G.T.: I most admire my Mother because she is incredibly strong.
R.T.: My Mom, she has taught me always to be strong and fight for what I believe in.
W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?
G.T.: The most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do is be strong when a family member was diagnosed with cancer.
R.T.: Part ways with a good friend in a band.
W: What is your greatest accomplishment?
G.T.: My greatest accomplishment is being able to create art freely to share with others.
R.T.: I don’t think I have reached my greatest accomplishment yet, but being able to share my art with others is amazing.
W: What one goal remains out of reach?
G.T.: The one goal that remains out of reach is making more time to create art other than music, such as painting and drawing.
R.T.: Making a consistent and comfortable living playing music.
W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?
G.T.: If I couldn’t do what I’m doing today I would probably get into fashion or some type of visual art more.
R.T.: I have always taken an interest in computers, so maybe something in the tech field.
W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
G.T.:The best piece of advice that I’ve ever received is “don’t let anyone tell you who to be and what to create.”
R.T.: From Roy Vickers “Don’t worry about what other people think, express your art in the way that’s right to you.”
W: Did you take it?
R.T.: We named our first album “The Only Way” after our discussion with Roy.
W: How do you hope to be remembered?
G.T.: I hope to be remembered as someone who is genuine and creates art that is relevant.
R.T.: I’m an artist so I want to be remembered for whatever work I leave.
Sister Says is a band that launched in late 2005 and consists of two siblings that had been performing together for some time. The band is made up of Robert and Gillian Thomson who were born four years apart with Robert being the eldest of the two.
At 19, Robert gave up his dream of becoming a professional hockey player and began experimenting with musical sounds, specifically beats, and earlier on most of them were straight hip hop. Later he started developing indepth orchestral arrangements with guitar and bass with a synthesizer. He says of his music, “I’m really into listening to songs and figuring out where the sounds came from, whether it’s electronic, a live instrument or a sample.”
Gillian’s love of singing began as a young child and as a little girl she would often sing while her father played guitar. She says she always wanted to be a singer. For a while her favorite song was “Crazy,” the way that Patsy Cline sang it. By the age of 12 she was studying in Vancouver with jazz singers learning the standards that helped shape her vocal style. She has a strong and abiding appreciation of the classic jazz songs.
“Sometimes a song will just hit you and transfix you ….my favorite artists do that to me. It’s like when you hear Nina Simone sing Mississippi Goddam, there is no way you won’t feel something after listening to that song” said Gillian. Strong lyricists like Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith and Elliott Smith have also had an influence on her style.
They took part in the kick-off of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as part of the Four Host Nations. They also were a part of the Canadian Olympics 2010 in Vancouver performing at the Aboriginal Pavilion as well as taking part in the Talking Stick Festival.
In June 2010, after touring Toronto, Boston and New York, the band met with the Nightingale music label and ended up signing, which allowed their music to be used in film and television. Rounding out a busy year brought the band nominations for the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards for Best Female Vocalist and Best Group or Duo. This exposure brought them numerous performance opportunities and at present they are in pre-production for their second album.