Comprised of sisters Alice and Mariana Makwaia, Sybling are born-and-raised New Yorkers that have been experimenting with songwriting since childhood, offering two different-yet-complimentary talents as musicians. Creatively, Alice came into her own as an artist honing her abilities as a composer while Mari wrote and fronted several projects of her own. Sybling represents the first time the two have come together as collaborators despite spending years casually hitting up open mics or acting as sounding boards for each other.
“A twenty years in the making” project, Sybling’s new material showcases their talent, while also proving none of them are a one-trick pony as each song is distinctive and comes up with their own sound, their own essence and meaning. Perhaps one thing that ties them all up is the haunting melodies and vocals that gets under our skin. “If one quote were to sum up the entirety of “Sybling” it would be Kurt Vonnegut’s: “He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral,” comments Alice, “This entire EP explores the ghosts of our past, and the way we try to seek out those people we once knew—who are, of course, still very much alive.”
Mariana takes us much further behind the writing process, as she explains, “Alice and I have been singing together for as long as we can remember, and we started writing music pretty early on. A few years ago we started collaborating more intentionally and wrote the beginnings of what became ‘Call Her Back’ on the EP. Part of what’s so exciting about our debut EP is witnessing how naturally our sound came together in a studio setting. It feels like the realization of nuanced work we’ve been doing for many years.
‘She’s Still Alive In The Past’ appeared spontaneously during one of our studio sessions with Todd Carder at The Bunker. I remember Alice had this riff in her head and wanted to see what it’d sound like if she lay it down and looped it. From there, we incorporated more and more layers, adding vocals and I even stepped out of my comfort zone and included some light percussion. At the time, there was a lot of grief and anticipation of death happening within our family and friends circle. It felt like we were peaking through a portal of sorts.
Alice wrote ‘Under’ a few years ago and then together we wrote my harmonies, focusing with each line on finding that one simple yet perfect chord. When we decided to record it at The Bunker, we thought of adding strings and my friend Mel Hsu and her cello immediately came to mind. She is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer who I’ve collaborated with in varied formations. When Alice visited me at Wesleyan, the three of us shared a special session writing and singing together and it struck me how tenderly Mel creates space to allow for the magic in music. This feeling increases every time we work, play and support each other. How touching to be held even in the depths of the melancholy ‘Under’.”