“Y Gawres”, the Welsh phrase that titles Sister Wives’ debut album, means “The Giantess”. It’s a record inspired by Welsh mythology, thread throughout a cavernous mix of psychedelia, folk, post-punk, garage and 70s glam rock. The band announced today that the album is set for release on October 28th, 2022, via Libertino Records, sharing first single and video for “Greater Place”. The track provides a glimmer of light and a danceable respite against the album’s darkness. Watch the video below.
The album’s title is inspired by the ancient burial site on Anglesey, Barclodiad y Gawres, which translates to “The Giantess’ Apronful”. While giants are central to the nation’s folklore, it’s rare to hear of female giants. The idea led the Sheffield-based band — consisting of Donna Lee (vocals, keys & synths), Rose Love (vocals & bass), Liv Willars (vocals & guitar), Lisa O’Hara (vocals & drums) — to picture a devastating, nurturing, awe-inspiring, and most importantly feminine force of their own.
“’Greater Place’ is our love song to joy”, say the band. O’Hara wrote the chorus lyrics as a reflection on the hope and safety that the band provides. Meanwhile, Willars provided the verses as a tribute to her infant son. “My son was born a few weeks before the first lockdown and we spent the first year of his life almost in isolation. Even being alone at home during such a dark time, joy still managed to tear through”, she shares. The band adds: “We wanted the lyrics to be a tribute to a lot of different emotions and discoveries in life, where there’s a giant, positive shift and suddenly our world feels renewed”.
The album’s lyrics are divided between English and Lee’s native Welsh, and the country is deeply present across the album. It’s important to Lee to represent the Welsh language outside of Wales, with the band often making connections with Welsh audience members and showing others that singing in the language is viable and meaningful.
All four members of Sister Wives began their respective journeys in music in the punk and DIY music scenes. However, the band is a vehicle for experimentation, with its members adopting a deeply collaborative and open-minded approach. Industrial, grating synth and guitar sounds form their foundation, while vocals are haunting and harmonic. “We try and make our music sound as powerful and primal as possible”, the band explains. “Writing music as women in our thirties means we have more life experience to bring to our songwriting, and we’re very supportive of each other’s ideas. Nothing is ever off the table”.
During the early stages of writing the album in summer 2021, the band was inspired by a trip to Anglesey, where they explored the ruined mansion, Baron Hill. It was incredible to see it reclaimed by nature, to feel that reality was altered in this place out of time. They reflect that feeling through the pulsing, gritty, yet simultaneously ethereal track “Baron Hill”.
At the core of “Y Gawres” is reclamation. Stamping a space for themselves, women, and anyone pushing against patriarchal norms; whether it’s in the folklore of the past or now. “We think it’s important to be visible as a band of women in our thirties who are still playing gigs and making noise, rather than retreating into more socially acceptable roles and hanging up our instruments”, the band affirm. With this in mind, Sister Wives have created an honest, bold and musically distinct debut entirely on their own terms.
Soon after forming in 2017, they found a home in Sheffield’s supportive and genre-diverse DIY scene. They’ve garnered support in their second home of Wales too, seeing radio play on BBC Cymru and BBC Wales, and making appearances at Green Man Festival and FOCUS Wales. Y Gawres was partly recorded at Tesla Studios with Sheffield-based production wizard Dean Honer (Róisín Murphy, The Moonlandingz, I Monster, Eccentronic Research Council). His armoury of vintage synthesisers and keyboards was key to the process, allowing the band to create sonic twists and turns that match the album’s multifaceted subject matter.
Pre-order “Y Gawres” here.