Interview w/ Mozart’s Sister


Caila Thompson-Hannant’s kaleidoscopic iridescence is both saltwater taffy and tall shadows. Operating as Mozart’s Sister, the Montréal-based artist draws wavy chalk lines that are hopelessly full of life. Fizzing blips and cathartic choruses round out Thompson-Hannant’s latest release, Field of Love. The exuberant curiosity of the album hopscotches to the tune of sadness, lovelorn confusion, and buoyant optimism.  In advance of her February 22 show at Soda Bar, we interviewed Thompson-Hannant about Mozart’s Sister’s latest album; the importance of artistic integrity in our current political climate; and the coolness of Kirsten Dunst.


Rob Patrick: Field of Love has a unique dichotomy of carbonated, ecstatic instrumentation and melancholy, often times hypnotic, lyrics. The album is sweeping and yet intimate. What was important to you when crafting the sound of the record?

Caila Thompson-Hannant: I really like that exact dichotomy – saccharine and scary, seductive and frightening. I love Nicki Minaj’s verse on “Monster”; she morphs between like 6 different characters: Baby doll, demon, fierce rap star. It’s exciting to me when a song shows a lot of elasticity. I’m not as into things that don’t really move or expose themselves. I like peeling off layers.


In all of your videos – from the hallway backpedaling of “Good Thing, Bad Thing” to the energetic wanderlust of “Angel” – there is constant movement. There’s never a lack of energy or curiosity in your work, and your videos visually mirror that. Do you see that as a deliberate correlation between mediums?

Well, movement is very important, but I hadn’t really thought, directly, about the two linking in that way. I haven’t made my own video completely yet, so I’ll keep that in mind.


As an artist, what are three songs that changed the way that you look at music?

Air – La Femme D’Argent, Bjork – Hyperballad, Lil Wayne – Lolipop


A few years ago, you performed a super fun, ridiculously cool, rendition of your song “Don’t Leave It To Me” for Sessions. Is there any likelihood that we will ever see you participate in another live kitchen recording of one of your songs ever again?

Mmm, to be honest I find sessions very awkward. Hah! I’m glad you liked it, though.


“Bump” is an intensely atmospheric, ethereal, and buoyant song that, once again, channels levity and sadness. From a production standpoint, it’s somewhat removed from the rest of the album, and yet it feels seamlessly integrated. What went into making this particular track?

I liked that it didn’t initially have a full melody. I wanted to keep it that way. That was the main thing that stood out for me. I also tried to always hint at a big banging chorus but never really give it all the way. A little tease. 😉


In an interview with Artist Direct, you said that you’d like to have another album completed in a year. What are some themes that you would like to touch on in the future?

My next project will be with double bass and electronics and lots of voice. Crazy voice. Like characters. I want it to be super heavy.


Would you ever like to score a film? If so, what genre would it be and who would star in the movie?

Yes! I think Kirsten Dunst. I love “The Virgin Suicides” and “Melancholia” soundtracks (I think “Melancholia” is all Wagner, hah) I would love to make a soundtrack like [Michael] Nyman does for the [Peter] Greenaway films.


In a tenuous sociopolitical climate where funding for arts is becoming increasingly elusive, what steps should we, as a society, take to reinforce creativity in public spaces?

Make any existing spaces as cool and inclusive and outstanding as possible! Keep the inspiration alive. Montréal is a good place for DIY non-profit spaces. I love them and hope they keep transforming.


Your lyrics are always incredibly thoughtful, visual, and uncompromising. In your mind, what goes into writing an exploratory and important song?

I try to not let my lyrics be too cheesy. I like referencing stuff, like in “Angel” I reference a Fall lyric that I was particularly obsessed with as a twenty-something. I try to keep things either kitchen sink or Monet impressionistic.


Finally, your dance moves are always rad. What’s the key to putting together some awesome choreography?

Ummm, just get weird! Use as many little weird body parts as possible. Explore. I don’t plan dance moves (not yet at least).


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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