As part of Otwo’s Dublin Bands on Your Doorstep feature Christopher Higgins talks to Sissy
SISSY ARE ONE of the most recent additions to Dublin’s punk scene. Combining feminism with a groovy garage-punk sound, the three piece band formed in 2014. Made up of members from other bands, Fag Enablerz and Putrefaction, their music is highly politically-charged. Their mission? Subversion of gender constructs, confronting the patriarchy and challenging the holders of power in society.
Michelle Doyle, bassist, doesn’t come from a particularly musical household. “My mam likes ABBA and I think that’s about it.” She, on the other hand, has been into punk since she was a teenager, when she accidentally stumbled upon the song “Oh!” by Sleater-Kinney. Guitarist, Leigh Arthur, having always wanted to play music, had a slow start, joking that “all I did for a while was let the guitar I got myself, with my confirmation money, get dusty”.
Doyle and Arthur met in “classic J1 style”. Arthur asked Doyle if she wanted to start a feminist punk band and they “abandoned the wider 40 strong group of Irish people to go to gigs or go to rock bars and sing karaoke.” Doyle already knew Eoin, from their band Fag Enablerz, and he joined as drummer.
The conversation turns to the name of the band. “We wanted a name that set the tone in the right way for us,” Arthur explains, “The more common use of the word is as a negative slang term for a male who expresses subordinate behaviour, that is traditionally seen as a female attribute. For me, juxtaposing this slang and being proud to apply it to myself, as a female, ignites questions about gender, social and cultural constructs that are the main focus of our music.”
On the political themes in their music, Arthur believes that power and its holders in society are important topics. She enthuses, “In challenging the status quo you challenge the imbalance of power and hopefully strive toward a more just and fair society for the powerless.”
The two are no doubt outspoken and this trickles through into their music. Doyle explains the band’s decision to parody Enya’s ‘Orinoco Flow’ in their song ‘Sail and Rail’ and address the abortion debate currently gripping Irish minds. “It’s taking direct quotes used by the anti-choice movement in Ireland, who claim that abortion ‘on demand’ will be so easy that the vacuous inconsiderate women who avail of it will use it to become ‘bikini-ready’, then deliver it in the dominant medium of the ‘radio-friendly’. I think it’s important to tackle misogyny in creative ways.”
The band has already attracted attention from influential publications and have recently featured in NME’s Radar. On this praise, Michelle believes that “you have to view that type of press as being incidental, and that you have to keep doing what you were doing.” Having recently released their debut EP, Doyle believes that it provides an insight into what they’re about. “I think it’s good to keep evolving and honing what you do.” Arthur considers the music itself as more important than what other people think of it. “We’ll continue as long as it is still creatively fulfilling to do so for us, even if everyone else hates it.”
Sissy consider themselves a part of Dublin’s DIY scene. They’re part of ‘The Karate Club’, a collectively-run punk practice space in Phibsborough.
On Dublin’s music scene, Doyle says, “It can be a bit annoying when you read some lazy music journalist in a newspaper saying that Dublin has ‘no scene’. Dublin has loads of scenes, do your homework!”
So what does the future hold for Sissy? “Go on a J1 again, maybe?” Doyle muses. “We’d like to tour Europe and America potentially. At present we’re writing songs and working on new stuff.” She also reveals how she’d “like to write a song for Miley Cyrus”. Leigh’s long-term goal, meanwhile, for the future? To “smash the patriarchy”.