Sweet Soubrette - Music Exclusive
New York City's Sweet Soubrette is a ukulele-powered indie rock band with dark, poetic lyrics, songs that tell stories, and lush instrumentation. Sweet Soubrette's edgy love songs explore troubled romance, works of literature, and the mysteries of existence, featuring the songwriting, vocals and ukulele of Ellia Bisker and a talented backing band.
In this exclusive weekly series for Feminist Wednesday, Ellia talks about some of Sweet Soubrette's songs that take on themes relating to the modern female experience. Each song is paired with an image of Ellia by Brooklyn-based photographer Emily Raw. The two artists have been working together on various photo and video projects since 2007.
I like to explore the idea of the femme fatale archetype in the songs I write, with a particular interest in recasting her character in the first person voice. Siren Song, the title track of the first Sweet Soubrette album, tells a familiar tale (a mermaid sings to a sailor, calling him into the sea), but in this version, the mermaid is the one telling the story. In the traditional narrative, popularized by works such as the Odyssey and so on, the siren is a monster, a symbol of uncanny female sexuality: attractive but deceptive, compelling a desire that can never be consummated, causing madness and destruction. The siren’s voice is a dangerous element of her power, but she never uses it to speak for herself; it is only described for its deadly beauty. This song is something different, a first-person account from the mermaid’s point of view, and it turns out to be as slippery and ambiguous as the mermaid herself. Is she telling the truth? Is she the answer to the shipwrecked sailor’s prayer for rescue? Or is she only luring him to his death? It’s open to interpretation, and even I can never make up my mind. When we recorded it we ended up tracking many layers of backing vocal harmonies, so you can visualize a whole ocean full of mermaids singing when you listen to it.