Interview with Saint Sister who play at Mullumbimby Festival

Saint Sister – Mullumumbimby Music Festival

Mullum Music Festival | 15–18 November

Saints, Sisters & Silence

Irish two-hander Saint Sister sees Morgan MacIntyre and Gemma Doherty create music that draws from early Celtic harp traditions, 60s folk, and electronic pop to create what they dub ‘atmosfolk’ – a mix of soulful vocal harmonies, dreamy synth, and electro-acoustic harp.

Gemma admits that the duo get ‘a lot of inspiration going to see live gigs. Watching musicians perform always tends to trigger something or sometimes spark an idea, often unrelated, but there’s something about being in that headspace – even if the music is completely different from ours, there’s always something to take away.’

Gemma and Morgan found each other at a time when both admitted to being a bit directionless.

‘We were both out of college and suddenly we had a partner and a reason to make music every day. We just started pouring all our energy into the band and we have never looked back.’

The musical pairing has created a close bond that is evident in their music.

‘We are very close,’ says Gemma. ‘We spend all day, every day, together. It’s just the two of us so it’s pretty intense. I do think our music has benefited from our relationship. We have learnt to anticipate the other’s needs not just on an emotional or practical level, but also musically.’

‘Over time I’ve learnt to write lyrics I think Gemma will like and feel represented by. It’s important to me that she can see herself in any lyric I write,’ says Morgan

There is a strong sense of place in the music of Saint Sister and, although their music is very much contemporary, there are still echoes of Irish musical tradition.

‘It’s more of an instinctive thing,’ says Gemma. ‘It comes through melodically or harmonically. I grew up laying a lot of traditional and Irish folk music; it always played such a bit part of my life both socially and musically.’

One of the most impressive thing about the music of Saint Sister is their expansive sense of space. It’s something the two musicians gravitate towards as they search of the silence ‘between the notes’.

In fact their album is called Shape of Silence. ‘The title seemed to fit both lyrically and musically,’ says Gemma of the new album. ‘We thought a lot about the power of silence and what can be felt in the spaces between. We sing a lot in unison and a lot of the music is about talking and listening to each other. Also the harp plays quite a big part in the live show, which can be quite delicate naturally, so our tendency is never really to overload rhythmically or sonically.’

Longing is the thread that stitches the songs of Saint Sister. ‘It’s a conversation that begins with a very basic longing for a companion, a partner; it’s very conspiratorial. But the songs become a little lonelier and more introspective towards the end of the album.’

Saint Sister play Mullum Music Festival this year and are sure to deliver a powerful and intimate show. 15–18 November.

For tix and info go to


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