It's not the sound you’d expect given their jazz and folk backgrounds, but
L have a shining future ahead 0
IF YOU APPLY THE PRINCIPLES OF horse racing to picking a winner in the pop stakes, then Edinburgh outfit The Lanterns are well worth taking a punt on. Formed from singing sisters Gina and Sylvia Rae and songwriterl-producer Sutherland, the threesome boast an impressive pedigree, excellent form and put on fine displays at their first two public outings earlier this year. But don’t take just my word for it: Columbia Records were so impressed that they backed them to the hilt and signed the band last year purely on the strength of a DIY showcase in Jim's living room.
Gina and Sylvia are regular faces on Edinburgh’s booming leftfield jazz scene. Part of the Rae jazz dynasty which has made its mark on Scotland's music, the siblings have sung together since they were knee- high to a mic stand. Jim, on the other hand, has cut a name for himself in the folk world, and has a list of producing and composing credits as long as his legs. As well as playing more instruments than most people can name, he’s also had the unique honour of teaching U2’s Larry Mullen how to play the locust bean pods.
Jim hooked up with the sisters in 1996 and, for the first time, tried his
them. Wyrds: Jonathan Trew
hand at songwriting. ’l was surprised how easy it was,’ he smiles. ’l’d get up early every morning and, from one dream state, I’d go straight into another. Just working out songs on my sitar and then phoning up whichever of these two I could get out of their beds and singing down the phone at them.’
The end results are perhaps not what you might expect, given the
band members’ musical backgrounds. '
At their last gig, The Lanterns unveiled a sleek, beat-driven pop. A rounded, often warm sound that makes as much use of technology as it does of the sister's intertwining voices, The Lanterns' songs make a mockery of trying to push music into categories.
All three point to the huge range of Edinburgh's grassroots music scene and especially the role played by the Transporter Rooms, a long-running club that has served as a musical crucible where anything goes, irrespective of genre. The only yardstick is that it sounds good. Now resident in the bohemian surrounds of the Bongo Club complex, the Transporter Rooms is part of a thriving community of artists, filmmakers, musicians and per- formers. The Lanterns are based slap in the middle of it all.
’Not everyone living in high rise flats is a junkie fuck. There's normal and decent people there too.’ Sylvia Rae
Shine on: Sylvia, Jim and Gina are The Lanterns
The wider public will get a chance to hear The Lanterns' multi-faceted sound when they release their debut single 'Hi Rise Town’. The sisters spent their earliest years growing up in the high rise estate of Sighthill in Edinburgh and returned there to film the video for the single.
’lt's about the fact that you may be staying in a pokey wee flat in Sighthill, but you’ve got a great view,’ explains Gina.
'Not everyone living in high rise flats is a junkie fuck,’ chips in Sylvia. ’There's normal and decent people there too. It’s an optimistic song.’
’When we were filming, we met this old woman in one of the lifts who said, "I hope you're not making another Waiting For Jo Jo. That didn't help anyone around here",’ says Gina. ‘But that's not what it's about. The chorus goes "Head in the clouds and still climbing”. You’ve got to have hope.’
’For me it means being out of your face,’ grins Jim.
It's difficult being all things to all people, but The Lanterns have enough styles and ideas up their sleeves to have a fair crack at it.
The Lanterns play the 13th Note, Glasgow, Tue 10 Nov. Hi Rose Town is released on Columbia on Mon 18 Jan.