In a few short years life has gone full circle for local musicians Gabriel and Cecilia. Before becoming finalists on The Voice, the brother/sister duo won the Youth Mentorship at Mullum Music Fest, and now they are mentors for young winners at Bello Winter Music. They have also just released Vessels, a brand-new album that reflects the breadth of their talent and their disregard for the limitations of genre.
Finishing her HSC this year at Cape Byron Steiner, Cecilia believes the key motivation for any aspiring musician is to try to be unique and explore your creativity. Something she and her full-time musician brother seem to do quite naturally.
‘I think you should be pushing with as many techniques as you can – covering genres that you never would. For us it’s about our writing techniques and our singing techniques and pushing the range, so sometimes we might be operatic, or sometimes pop, but we are always trying stuff out,’ says Cecilia.
Not many HSC girls can talk about their previous album, but Cec and her brother are prolific, and refreshingly humble.
‘As opposed to our previous EP, Vessels is more us, it’s more stripped back, more of what people actually hear.’
According to Gabe, recording presents musicians with endless challenges.
‘Recording is dangerous territory – it’s a neverending void of choices!’ he laughs. ‘It’s an extension of your character in a way – and the more you do anything, I guess, the better you get at it.’
And the better you get, they both believe, at coming up with something ‘new’.
‘I think it’s possible to be new enough. You can’t invent something you haven’t heard before. It’s like cooking: You can take the same four ingredients and do different things with them. There are meals that haven’t been made despite the stuff we have already come up with from the same four ingredients…’ says Gabriel.
The two have drawn on various influences for their latest offering. One of the songs was Cecilia’s response to travelling to the Northern Territory.
‘I was shocked about how little we learn in the syllabus about Indigenous culture, and when I was there I wrote the song on the ukulele, and that is how we approached it in production. We kept it simple. I wrote it by the fire.’
Being brother and sister, the duo have found their own ways to create music without too much intervention from their sibling. The harmony is best when one takes the lead and the other follows.
‘Just one of us writes the lyrics, and the other one will accompany them,’ Says Gabe of their creative process.
Along with the duo’s originals, the album includes songs from Cecilia’s collaboration with her sisters, Little Sisters, and a song from Gabe’s former band Prowler. Showing their diversity, the two manage to achieve a genre stretch from folky to heavy metal.
The two seem to have a wisdom and a talent beyond their years, with their sudden rise to national acclaim leaving them undaunted.
‘It’s about being confident in who you are onstage. It’s like being olive or licorice: you will either be loved or hated depending on someone’s personal taste. You have to know who you are and be confident in that.’
‘From our experience,’ says Gabe, ‘we have learnt to be best at something or the first at something. It’s close to impossible to be the best at singing and playing guitar so be creative and try and find a sound that no-one has played before. You can get mathematical and work out how many orders of chords and time signatures – there is a world of intricate detail that people don’t explore; most don’t traverse the uncomfortable terrain!’
Vessels was recorded at Art of Audio at Wilsons Creek with producer Kamal Engels. Album artwork is by Daniel Hend. Gabriel and Cecilia will be launching their latest album at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall on Saturday with support from their one-time school friends and fellow sibling musicians, The No Frills Twins.
They are also featured artists at Bello Winter Music 2–5 July.
Their Saturday show at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall has doors open at 5.30pm with showtime from 6.30pm. This is a family-friendly event and tickets are for sale on the door.
$10 adults and $5 kids.
CDs, vinyls and merchandise will be available to buy on the night.