Number Two Better Than Three : Being and Mozart’s Sister

Mozart's Sister. Photo Vanessa Heins Mozart's Sister. Photo Vanessa Heins

Article by Craig Heinrich.

Over three hundred years ago, a young man by the name Wolfgang was creating waves in the European music scene who would go on from being a child prodigy to one of the most revered composers of all time –- however, if not for the times, his older sister Maria Anna may have become equally as famous in her own right as a musical talent. Today, Mozart’s Sister is making herself heard through an entirely new voice, but one which has not lost touch with reflections from the past. One can see this repressed gender ethos introduced in one of her earliest tracks “Mozart’s Sister,” in which she laments that she’ll always be number two, but at least that’s better than being number three.

Coming off her debut EP Hello released in 2011, Caila Thompson-Hannant has been writing and recording the glorious follow-up album Being with the same DIY attitude which seems so common amongst Montreal’s young music scene today. According to Thompson-Hannant, while this new release is not a complete departure in terms of the production style, it provides a better outlet for more variety. “The format of the EP creates a different atmosphere because of the length, [whereas] a full album can tell a bigger story.”

Her story of being number two is one which clearly holds great importance for her, and which she explains very simply. “It’s the underdog, feeling entrapped and being an invisible woman. The role of women, at least in a patriarchal society, is limited – if there is a hierarchy, it’s pretty clear what it would be.”

While her music is often fairly compared with other electro-musical contemporaries such as Grimes and tUnE yArDs, Thompson-Hannant’s lyrics burst with a severe self-effacement and sense of nostalgic love which is entirely her own. Tracks such as “Enjoy” showcase her ambivalent feelings towards “a gentle boy, a loving boy,” yet haunted by the “good and bad simultaneously,” all the while carried by a catchy synth-drum track and staccato piano chords. Another standout track, “Don’t Leave it to Me,” carries the listener away by her repeated entreaties towards a charming new acquaintance, but with mixed feelings — a blend, as she refrains towards the ending, of fear, sex, and love. Her soulful voice is given even more rein in tracks such as “My House is Wild,” throughout which her multi-tracked vocals dazzle and dance before the listener. Though as a whole the album can seem somewhat homogenous at times, the end result is a dark and beautiful trip which equally soothes and enervates the listener.

Mozart’s Sister’s new album Being will be released on August 5 by Asthmatic Kitty Records, but you can catch her performing at La Sala Rosa (4848 St. Laurent) for the MEG Festival on July 25, and again in September for Pop Montreal.