A crystal clear goal, both in terms of looks and sound, is hard enough to have on your own. Then imagine being able to share your vision with someone else. For the talented sisters and musical duo Jenny and Cecilia Vaz, that’s reality! Radar met up with them to talk about their background and what it’s like to work with your sister, plus a little bit about their studio and latest single.
Do you come from a musical home?
J: Yes we do, our grandfather played the accordion, and all our uncles played different instruments. On our father’s side, his sisters are doing something called Batok, which is traditional music from Cape Verde where our father comes from.
C: Our dad has always given us records, he had a very large record collection but he also bought a lot of music to us and our brother. Then our parents put us in music school super early, we had small guitars, and accordions, so they have always ensured that we had music close.
Did your parents think that it was important?
J: I don´t know but they discovered that we liked it a lot. It probably started with that we got our guitars.
So music is no interest that you discovered, it has always been there?
C: Yes, it feels like it, from very early on. We began writing songs at a really young age. As soon as we started playing guitar and were put in music school, we started creating our own music.
Has it always been obvious to work with each other?
C: Yes, I think it has. I remember when Jenny began to write songs. There’s a three year age difference between us, so Jenny was always ahead of me and had time to start writing her own songs before I could. But then she invited, and we started singing harmonies and stuff like that. I think I was still a baby when we started our first band.
J: That’s actually kind of crazy when you think about it.
What was your band called then?
C: Probably nothing. Maybe Vaz, the same as we always have been called.
J: How old were we then?
C: I do not know, I think it was when we first got to learn English in school? Then we started performing together.
J: We played on all school graduations. We performed as soon as we got the chance.
Did you know then that you could sing?
J: Haha, maybe we couldn’t! I do not know, we just did.
C: I remember that we got nice response, and that led to more confidence and people asked us to perform again. It became a tradition that we always performed when there was a special occasion in school
J: We have always had very good music teachers as well. I remember one that recorded our first demo, Cissi was 12 years old then. That kind of stuff means so much. Encouragement from others.
How is it to work with your sister?
J: I can’t imagine working with anyone else.
C: I think there’s only advantages. We have such a deep understanding for one another, sometimes we do not even have to communicate. But we’ve certainly got to set limits, and respect each other as colleagues. We’ve got to find a form for working, because we know each other almost too well.
Do you do everything regarding your music by yourselves?
Why is that?
J: We’ve always been fairly determined of what we want to do and how our music should sound. Where we come from, there were no studios or large music network. So then we realized that we had to learn everything about making music ourselves.
Then Cissi found an education in music production that we attended for 2 years.
C: We had been doing some mixing and such before, but then you come to a point where you understand that you have to dig down in something and learn everything about it to move further. We had a strong vision.
J: After graduation, we bought a small home studio. We were pretty bad in the beginning … But with every step we have taken we have always come to the same conclusion. That it is easier for us in the end to just learn it ourselves in order to get what we want. “We have no studio, oh well, then we have to get a studio.” It has always been like that, and I think it will continue. We sent some of our music to an external mixer, but were not happy with the result so now we are doing it ourselves. We needed a press photo, but it didn’t turn out the way we wanted so we did it ourselves.
Do you have a record label?
C: No, but we’ve actually started our own this year, haha. That is also something we want to develop, but it’ll come later. There are definitely large gaps in the industry.
How do you have time for everything? Don´t you run your own studio as well?
C: Yes we do! We write and produce a lot with- and for others.
J: We started our studio, “Studio XX” in 2015. We work as songwriters for Universal too, and with that we have started to figure out how the industry is built. It’s a stale industry with structures that are very unattractive. Everyone knows that it is like this, it’s so bad. If we are going to work and live in this industry every single day, we decided pretty early on that we had to do something concrete about it. So then came the idea to start Studio XX – a female studio where you get the opportunity to do everything a professional musician needs to do. We began having sessions and invited female colleagues, and now, two years laster, it is still going strong and has been very appreciated. People have begun to cooperate within the studio and songs created in it have been released. It is so extremely invigorating to work together with people who are going through the same things.
C: It has also been important to have a physical location. It is a lot easier to take control of your creativity then.
How is it to do so much at once? You should have another sister?
C: Haha, yes, we should indeed! Two maybe.
J: That’s why we haven’t released so much music yet. But there is much we have done that isn’t visible externally, but that has been very good and developing for us on a personal level.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest single “Who you”?
C: The song is a question of identity. It’s about examining yourself, when the entire surface and everything is gone
C: Who are you when you’re with others, and who are you when you’re alone?
J: We always end up with really big topics when we create music and write songs. We both often ask ourselves questions like this – “Who am I? What is this?”
Why do you do all of this? What’s your driving force?
C: To begin with, this is the best there is. I can understand if people question how one can work as much with something as we do, but it feels so natural to us. Every day is so much fun. I think it’s because we created our own platform where we can work without limitations.
J: Yes, and without any compromise.
But has it been this much fun all the way?
C: It has not been so easy and joyful as it is now; there is a lot to contend with. It is not easy to get around and there are many obstacles on the road. But we give each other strength and ambition. One can easily become afraid of heights when one tries to imagine what it would be like to be alone in this. We had never done this if we didn’t have each other.
J: Someone said that those who remain in the end it is those who have the strength to hold out the longest.
Also, we are weird too. We have been so awfully determined from the beginning.