Minneapolis-based chamber pop group Sister Species performed at the Pause Mane Stage on Wednesday, April 10. The event was hosted by St. Olaf’s Music Entertainment Committee (MEC).
Wednesday’s blizzard hindered many St. Olaf students from attending the concert, but the band still put on a stellar performance. Memorable choruses, a diverse array of instruments and clever lyrics and arrangements made the performance fun to attend in the midst of a blizzard.
“Chamber pop,” the genre that the band characterizes itself as, is a form of rock music that includes intricate melodies and a variety of instruments. “You will hear catchy choruses or some accessible pop tropes, you know, but it’s chamber in the sense that we have really intricate arrangements.” singer-songwriter of Sister Species Emily Kastrul said.
The group is comprised of roughly eight members, depending on the show, and hosts an array of instruments including three trumpets, a drum set, guitar, double bass, bass guitar, an accordion and a piano at times.
“Memorable choruses, a diverse array of instruments and clever lyrics and arrangements made the performance a fun one to attend in the midst of a blizzard.” – Madeline Everett ’21
Kastrul started the group in 2011 by simply exploring vocal blending with her sister, Abby Kastrul. From there, the group slowly added members until the band grew to the current size.
“It’s sort of like my songwriting baby,” Emily Kastrul said. “I’m the person who writes the songs, and it’s been really exciting for me to have other people to flesh out that vision with who could stretch my imagination and kind of take it to new levels.”
Nature is a theme running through Sister Species’ music. Kastrul studied biology in college, and her background studying nature influences her music today.
“You’ll hear about cottonwood trees or the Mississippi river,” Kastrul said. Kastrul says that using nature is a way to approach complex emotions, and the band uses “nature as a metaphor for the way emotional cycles happen.”
“Instead of saying ‘I’m really sad about something that happened’ I’m going to be like ‘there’s a wolf on my couch.’ As a band, we’re trying to flesh out whatever those worlds are – so maybe the world is about loss, it’s sort of like exploring a cavern, all the different edges of it,” Kastrul said.
Members of Sister Species are also part of a diverse array of other bands. The musicians play in funk bands, drum bands, a folk trio and a synth-pop trio. “We all come from these really different musical backgrounds but then have kind of found this space to play together,” Kastrul said.
Kastrul performed at St. Olaf before. “I played here once when I was in college,” she said.
“I just played one song on the radio when my friend was working at the radio station. That’s the last time I was here.” Kastrul returned to St. Olaf with the band to celebrate their new record, “Heavy Things Do Move,” released in November 2018.
“We’re just really genuinely excited about how beautiful it sounds. We feel like it really captures what we’re trying to do as a band, and so we’ve been trying to share that with as many people as possible,” Kastrul said.