Smells like street spirit | Cryptic Street

Ahead of the launch of their first EP, we speak to local band Cryptic Street about the evolution of their style, and what we can expect from their new release

Cryptic Street: “A change in mentality is needed when it comes to local music festivals”
Cryptic Street: “A change in mentality is needed when it comes to local music festivals”

How did you first get together, and what were your early musical goals?

Denise, Leona, Janelle and Julia got together after being involved in an English literature project, where they were required to adapt a poem to music. After this project, they decided to continue a band. Following a line-up change, Cheyenne joined the band on bass guitar. At first, the band was a way how the members got to know each other as friends. Eventually, it turned into a more serious affair; especially after releasing their debut single Indecisive.

Like many contemporary bands, your sound appears to be characterised by an ‘80s influence. What attracts you to this sound, and how do you strive to put a new spin on it?

Each member is influenced by music from various eras. The ‘80s inspire us the most due to it being the decade during which alternative rock flourished, with pioneers such as R.E.M, The Smiths, Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees. We are also influenced by the eclectic ‘80s fashion. Furthermore, the increase in usage of the synth, is also a key influence for our band, since the synth features heavily in our music. However we aspire to put a modern twist on the ‘80s sound in order to create something which is more innovative and current.

How has your sound evolved over the years?

While embracing our roots, each member is now influenced by a wider range of musical genres, which has helped to evolve our sound. Our individual influences range from jazz to hip-hop. Also, with regards to lyrics, they are now more socially aware. Lyrics explore themes such as the modern obsession on technology and data protection, human vulnerability under pressure, time’s reign over the modern man; themes of how society wants everyone to conform to its norms and how different people from different sections of society are engulfed in sheer loneliness. The usage of Maltese language in our songs, and encouragement of Maltese poetry, contribute to our style.

With regards to the music, international alternative artists such as Chet Faker, MØ and Grimes, amongst others, have also inspired us to experiment more. In addition, we have also experimented with our voices, which feature heavily in our new songs.

What would you say are some of your most significant achievements so far?

With regards to commercial success – being nominated for the 2012 MMAs and winning a BMA during the same year, as well as having our debut single’s music video appearing on Coldplay’s website. With regards to personal success – being one of the few all-female bands in Malta, having five members who all sing.

What do you make of the local music scene, and what would you change about it?

The Maltese music scene is flourishing, and many Maltese artists are now experimenting with different sounds. Moreover, the fact that some artists chose to write songs in Maltese is also a plus. Unfortunately, a change in mentality is needed since even during local festivals, there is more support for tribute bands than original, pan-Maltese artists, who put their blood, sweat and tears in their work.

What can you tell us about your upcoming EP? How would you say it consolidates your sound so far, and what can fans expect from it?

Our EP includes five original tracks, including two songs in Maltese. While containing some songs whose sound has a wider appeal, there are also some experimental songs for a niche audience, which creates a good sound palate. Sponsors include Malta Arts Fund, Malta Society of Arts and Parascandolo, as well as some other artists we have worked with, such as the poet Beverly Agius, who kindly agreed to let us adapt her poem Kull Lejla to a song.

The EP launch will include a sensory experience for the audience, as well as the contribution of other artists in order to create an inventive experience for the audience. We are trying to create an artistic experience, rather than simply setting up a performance of the EP’s songs. The event will incorporate artists from different forms of art, such as photography and paintings, as well as poetry.

Cryptic Street will be launching their EP at Palazzo De La Salle, Valletta at August 21. Doors open at 21:00. For more information, look for ‘Cryptic Street’ on Facebook and Instagram