The Impatient Sisters get personal about womanhood, sisterhood and growth
Back better than ever
Those who say “never mix business with family” have clearly never seen The Impatient Sisters in action before. The trio of sisters from Kuantan first dipped their toes in the local music scene back in 2011, singing covers from the likes of Eisley and Priscilla Ahn. After making waves with releases such as Comets and Stars and The Mermaid Song in 2014, the sisterly triumvirate have never looked back since. In the same year, The Impatient Sisters released their eponymous debut album consisting 11 original tracks. The band has had a string of performances in several major concerts such as Riuh Raya 2022, Anugerah Lagu Indie 2021, Good Vibes Festival 2019, and more.
Fast forward seven years later, The Impatient Sisters are back with their second album, 7 Years, which features 13 songs written in the past four to five years in Malay and English. Known for their haunting harmonies, eclectic arrangements of guitar, xylophone, and kazoo, and their whimsical lyrics, the indie folk band held nothing back in 7 Years, reflecting their growth as artists, sisters, and women. From songs such as Rumah, Mari Menari to Three, listeners will be taken on a journey of breezy romantic tunes, quirky soul bops to folk-pop numbers that are signature of the band’s musical style.
Ahead, we spoke to Soraya, Nazeera, and Irena of The Impatient Sisters on their creative processes making their sophomore effort, what the past seven years have taught them, their sisterly connection, and more.
You probably expected this question, but we just had to ask. How is it like working together as sisters in a band?
Soraya: I’ve never been in any other band besides The Impatient Sisters, so I feel like it’s just like sisters hanging out and doing something together.
Irena: I think it’s easier to understand each other. If you were in a band with friends, you still have to figure out how they work, but with us, we already know how we work and what we like.
Everyone sees the three of you almost as a single unit. But what about your differences as individuals, creatively and personally?
Irena: Nazeera is very unfazed and cool when the rest of us are panicking. We leave all the financial management stuff to her.
Nazeera: Irena is our music production person. She can answer all our questions about music and technical terms we’re not familiar with.
Soraya: I do the promo, I’m the social media manager [laughs].
Seven years is quite a significant amount of time in between albums. Was there any significant reason behind the time you took to produce 7 Years?
Soraya: There were a few factors. After the first album, Irena left for Boston to study in Berkeley. We then sort of did our own thing and wrote songs separately. When Irena came back, we released singles such as Hanyut and Sister, Don’t Cry. After she graduated, we started writing more songs and became active again.
Irena: 7 Years represents our whole journey through all this and we felt that now was the right time to release the album to tell our story.
Interestingly, seven years is the amount of time it takes for a human body to regenerate itself. How do you think this healing time has made your second album different than the first?
Soraya: I feel like we know more about music and what to expect. It comes from a different angle and it’s not really about how we wrote the first album which was mostly fantasy-based and observational. During those seven years, we went through a lot of changes—I became a mum—and we went through bouts of homesickness. So, how we approached songwriting changed.
Irena: It was mostly our perspective and growth that changed a lot. We went through life. Individually, we were also apart all those years. Furthermore, for the first album, we gigged a lot before we even recorded the album. But for 7 Years, it was the other way around; we had the songs and we went to the recording studio straight away to record without performing them live so the way we went about this second album was completely differently too.
Your title tracks are 7 Years and Seringkali. Out of the 13 songs on the album, why did you decide to have these two songs as your title tracks?
Soraya: 7 Years because it was very symbolic of what we want to portray. We’re now a few years older and no longer the same girls who wrote the first album; we’re new and different. As for Seringkali, it was a track that first appeared on our EP two years ago and it was special because it was featured in a telefilm. But the arrangement that we had in the EP was very acoustic so for this album, we made it really full with an orchestration. We wanted to show it to a wider audience so that’s why we wanted to push it as our Malay single.
Apart from the title tracks, what are some other singles from the album that you’re currently really loving?
Nazeera: My favourite track on the album is Three. I don’t know, I just love singing the song [laughs].
Irena: This is hard because I worked on the production of all 13 songs. Maybe for now, it would be Anak Kecil because of the recording process. I recorded my friend four years ago in New York and I took his track and recorded my guitar part on top of it this year. So, the song is like a mini time capsule in my mind.
Soraya: I like Aneh and 7 Years. The first because writing that song was very easy but also bittersweet for me. It’s about how fast time flies as a mum, so it’s close to my heart. During the day we recorded the vocals, our drummer also welcomed his baby into the world! So, we were trying really hard not to cry in the recording studio and it was such a special moment.
For 7 Years, it was also easy to write and it was inspired by an article I read about the regenerative process of the human body. I wanted to write something upbeat because most of our songs are laid back, so I showed the idea with my sisters and we’re so proud of it.
Any fun or interesting stories you can share with us behind the scenes of the album making?
Irena: Production-wise, we used many techniques to try to produce the right sounds for songs such as using toy sticks, making finger pop sounds and what not. So, that was really fun to experiment with!
You mentioned that a lot of these songs were recorded during 2014 and 2015. Songs can change a lot wether you’re writing them a year or four years ago. So, how do you make sure that they’re still contemporary to your current sound?
Irena: Most of the songs we wrote back then were bare strips. For Anak Kecil, I initially made it sound really big sonically and did so many things but we realised we didn’t need all of that. So, we stuck to just the guitar and our vocals. But most of the songs were arranged this year.
With 13 songs, was there a specific story you wanted to convey with the track list you arranged in this body of work?
Soraya: We wanted it to flow quite naturally. Arranging a track list is very hard especially when you have so many songs such as how you start, what to do in the middle, and what not. There are different ways to do an album such as creating the concept first and then working on the music. But we had a bunch of stories that we wanted to tell. There’s a more innocent track, there’s a mum track, there’s an angry track. Overall, the sound is still very us even though it’s a rollercoaster sonically. We just want to take you guys on a ride!
7 Years stands out in the album with its use of electric guitar elements amongst your folk-indie tracks. What was it like dabbling into different genres?
Soraya: We always want to try different things. We listen to a lot of indie folk, folk Americana and 7 Years is reminiscent of another song we had in the first album called Forever I Know, so it’s not totally different from what we’ve done in the past. But in the future, we also want to explore more musically.
Irena: If we do that, we get to work with other musicians too, which is always fun.
Who were your musical inspirations during the making of 7 Years?
Irena: I listen a lot to The Staves, they’re a band of sisters from the UK. I like sister bands—every time I share a song with them, it always turns out to be a sister band!
Soraya: Yes, we tend to gravitate toward family bands a lot. I don’t know why but even with local acts, if we know they’re siblings, we just naturally gravitate towards them. We like it because we can relate to them even though they might find it weird that we’re so excited about them being family…
Is there a particular overarching message that you want to convey with this album?
Soraya: That we’ve grown up! [laughs] I feel in the local music scene, we were always treated as sisters but also their sisters, getting head pats, and whatnot. But we just want to tell people that we’ve grown up and there are other stories we want to tell.
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Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your younger selves if you have the chance?
Irena: I would say go with it, go with the flow. Don’t worry too much about what’s going to happen.
Soraya: Stay true to yourself. We’ve always been in our own bubble and were unaffected by what’s happening in the scene and what other people are doing. We like to do what we do simply because we want to do it.
What can else can fans expect from you in the near future?
Soraya: Stick around because we want to attend more shows, write new songs, and collaborate with more people!
Irena: We’re not going to limit ourselves to just artists but collaborating with other creatives, in general.
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