Nashville’s own The Weird Sisters are back and they are absolutely killing it with their latest single “LIVE AND I LEARN.” This is one, absolute funk rock banger that underscores the duo’s dynamic musical range and influences. Most notably, you get a big heaping helping of guitarist Izaac Short’s heavy, funky riffs, as well as keyboardist, vocalist and saxophonist Gabrielle Lewis’ extraordinary mastery of classical piano and saxophone. The song’s accompanying music video is equally as memorable, shot in retro VHS format, an idea devised by Izaac himself, who entirely wrote, directed, filmed, and edited the clip. It’s trippy, it’s out there, and it’s unmistakably original.
2022 marks five years since The Weird Sisters formed when Lewis and Short first began collaborating. Up to that point, Lewis had predominantly focused on classical and jazz music, and meeting Short motivated her to want to explore new musical territory. Shortly thereafter, the group began to take shape, and combining classic influences with unabashed experimentation became their primary objective. Talented to the core, the members thrive on challenging themselves.
The Weird Sisters have an extremely wide range of musical influences, and it shows within their releases up to this point. Today, the band joins us for a session of Stereo Six in which they outline six albums that contributed to their unmistakable sound.
1. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973, Harvest Records, Capitol Records)
Izaac Short: “Believe it or not, Gabi had never heard this record until we met. It was one of the coolest things to see a grown-ass woman hear Pink Floyd for the first time. I probably first heard it at age eight. For years I was just blown away by the sound and emotion of it, but then it became more about the technical aspects, musicianship, and how Alan Parsons put together a masterpiece. It’s one of those albums that you can’t listen to just one song, you need to experience the entire record. It is an incredible example of how sound can be visual.”
Gabrielle Lewis: “I’ll never forget hearing this for the first time. I was at Izaac’s apartment in East Nashville, we had just finished jamming and he put it on the turntable. When the first heartbeats opened up into ‘Breathe,’ I was struck by the immenseness of sound. We sat in silence for all 42 minutes; little did I know that the Fender Rhodes and Moog sprinkled throughout would become my instruments of choice in The Weird Sisters. My favourite track is ‘Great Gig in the Sky,’ the raw emotion harnessed in the vocal line with stellar instrumental backdrop moved me in ways I didn’t know rock could. Needless to say I had much to learn at that point but will never forget those first moments. After listening to the record hundreds of times since it never grows old.”
2. Roy Ayers – Virgin Ubiquity II (2004, Rapster Records)
Short: “Turn the lights down low, find somebody you don’t mind being naked with, let the music do the talkin’ and your body do the rockin.’ We’ve enjoyed this record for years, it still packs the same dirty punch. Probably one of the main reasons we try to sneak D6 Clavinet into most of our recordings, too. Roy Ayers is a God. His weapon of choice is the vibraphone. What is the vibraphone? It is the sexy version of the xylophone. This album is seductive, enchanting, funky as hell, thought-provoking, and every instrument has its own uniquely important role.”
Quintessential Track: “Liquid Love”
3. Tyler the Creator – IGOR (2019, Columbia Records)
Short: “That first note. No one has balls like Tyler the Creator. It’s hard to know where to begin, but just know that this album is a complete expression of all phases of heartbreak. When this record first came out we blew out the speakers in Gabi’s car listening to it every day. We are obviously inspired by Tyler’s music, but what is most inspiring is his complete DIY approach to everything. He produces his own music, and videos, and even heads his own clothing line. The guy even runs a festival… next-level shit. He is living proof that you can create your own world, live in it too, and not sell out.”
Quintessential Track: “New Magic Wand”
4. Fela Kuti – Gentleman (1973, EMI Records)
Short: “This record encompasses all the things we love most in music; horny sax, fat Fender Rhodes lines, and that African rhythm that gets you on your feet. We were drawn to Fela through drummer Ginger Baker (Cream, Blind Faith) who played drums with him briefly in the early 1970s. His music led us down the wonderful soulful rabbit hole of Afrobeat music, which has since become part of our own music.
Warning: This music will center your soul and make your body move. Make sure your spine is ready to rattle and your feet are prepared to dance.”
Quintessential Track: “Gentleman”
5. Isaac Hayes – Black Moses (1971, Enterprise Records)
Short: “We will start by saying that every Isaac Hayes album is perfect and incredible. This one just happens to be longer. Perhaps the greatest Stax record ever made. The Bar Kays as backing band melds perfectly with the orchestra and Isaac Hayes’ rich, sensuous vocals. The fact he made all his own orchestral arrangements is insane. He would walk up to horn players and hum the melodies, he never wrote anything down. Every song is a masterpiece of funky soul. Close your eyes and you’ll see tall buildings and gold-plated Cadillacs. For us, Isaac Hayes is the GOAT; combining orchestra with funk and always betting on yourself.”
Quintessential Track: “Going In Circles”
6. Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s – Damn Right I Am Somebody (1974, Universal Records)
Short: “This record found us in a bargain bin at a Nashville thrift shop. It changed our lives forever, in fact we’ve almost worn out the vinyl. You get a little James Brown in this one, but mostly you get the J.B.’s who are indisputably the greatest band of all time. The band leader Fred Wesley shines, delivering some of the greatest horn solos in history. What makes this record stand apart from other James Brown cuts is the tremendous amount of Moog Synthesizer. The overall message of ‘think freely, question everything, you are somebody’ is front and center. If it feels good it is good, and this is as good as it gets.”
Quintessential Track: “Blow Your Head”