Interview: Carol Cee of SiSé on New Album ‘Gold’
by Daniel Haim
Si*Sé is a downtempo and electronic group from New York City. The main members of the band are Carol Cee (vocals, DJ) and Cliff Cristofaro (producer). Other members of the band include Ryan Farley (drums), Neil Ochoa (percussion) and Morgan Phillips (Bass). Jeannie Oliver was the viola player during the first two albums, but left the band in 2005. Olivia Martinez (viola) and Tarrah Reynolds (violin) have also played in place of Jeannie over the years. In 2001 they toured worldwide with Talking Head’s David Byrne. They have also performed with Norah Jones, Kinky, Kraftwerk, Los Amigos Invisibles, Cody Chestnut & The Roots, Gotan Project, James Brown, Julieta Venegas, Cesaria Evora and Natacha Atlas.
The five years between Si*Sé’s last album, More Shine, and its new five-song EP, Gold, were not spent in vain. With the rapid shift in how people consume and experience music, the New York City-based band was waiting for the right opportunity to strike out on its own. These five songs are guaranteed to satiate hungry fans until the next full-length album
Daniel: Tell us about yourself, where are you from where are you now and how did you get started in this industry?
Carol: I was born and raised in New York City where I still reside. I started singing at a very early age. My mother was an aspiring singer and sang to me all the time. My first public experience with singing was at my local church and in my Junior High School “Glee Club”. I then studied classical opera for 4 years.
Daniel: When was it that you first discovered that you have this amazing voice of yours?
Carol: Thank you for saying that. My 3rd grade teacher had our class sing a children’s song she had taught us. We had sung it in unison many times. I had no idea this day, she was actually auditioning us for our school’s big annual show. She went around one by one listening to every student sing. When she got to me she stopped, got really close and stood there for a while. Afterwards, she told me I had a beautiful voice and that she had chosen me for the main solo for that year’s show. This was a huge deal for me. It was the first time anyone outside of my family had complimented my singing. Unfortunately, the school lost funding that year and the annual show didn’t happen. But I think that day changed my life.
Daniel: Where do you draw your inspiration from, and what motivates you to continue?
Carol: I get inspired by everything around me. Sometimes it’s an experience, a friend, a movie, a book, art.
Music was my best friend in many ways growing up. It’s also created a special connection between my mother and I.
Daniel: As a New Yorker, which venue has been your favorite to perform at?
Carol: I don’t have a favorite but have really enjoyed playing at Highline Ballroom, Bowery Ballroom, Irving Plaza (Now the Fillmore New York) and S.O.B’s.
Daniel: The music industry is constantly changing its structure. What is your feeling about today’s music market?
Carol: I think technology has always reshaped the music industry and forced it to adapt to the times. When vinyl was invented concert promoters were upset that it might discourage people to go to concerts. Then radio was supposed to threatened record sales. As a kid I remember taping things off the radio on my brother’s cassette player. Everyone I knew was getting music for free this way. The digital world has just made it incredibly easy to share music files within seconds. I think people these days are more willing to support independent artists and labels than the major ones. But everyone in the music industry to a certain degree is being affected.
Daniel: What are your hopes for the release?
Carol: I hope the music is enjoyed by many.
Daniel: In your own words, can you describe to us what we can expect from your album?
Carol: We explored with some new styles and sounds for this EP, including our first official cover song. A cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”. As a band we love so many different genres and are always experimenting with new ones. It’s how we stay excited about the creative process.