FREEwilly CMJ Showcase Spotlight: The Ethereal Darkness of Zambri

Fronted by sister act Jessica and Cristi Jo, Zambri evokes a multitude of sound– almost as if they had recorded one perfectly pop love song and then buried it below another track filled with rhythmic sadness. A mix of ethereal vocals and gloomy undertones fill their debut EP, Bang For Changes, with an evolving dichotomy which can simply be described as beautifully relentless.

But a lot has changed for Zambri since the summer of 2009– with the inclusion of a live band, working with producer Chris Coady (who’s resume includes all your favorite bands– Delorean, Islands, Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lemonade, Telepathe, TV on the Radio… well, you get the point), and a slight shift in sound.

Not to worry, the sisters haven’t lost that solemn yet airy harmony… but if tracks like “Carry“, a collaboration with Bear In Heaven‘s Jon Philpot, are any indication we can expect a tonality that has matured past taking photos of their own feet– an era every girl must go through in order to stumble upon self realization. I suspect Zambri’s full length debut will be just that, fully realized, and far from disappointing.

FREEwilliamsburg got a chance to catch up with Cristi Jo while planning tomorrow night’s CMJ showcase at Glasslands (with the honorable Stadiums & Shrines) about the ready to be mixed full length, whether or not it is easy to create with one’s sister, and what it’s like to get bit on the ass by a loving fan. If you haven’t already, check out the rest of our awesome lineup and RSVP here to check out Zambri, and be sure to carry on after the jump to get to know the girls a little better.

Where are you from, where do you live now? We were born in Long Island, and we live in Manhattan.

Growing up together, were you always making music? Since early on, yes. I think the first public performance we did together was when I was in 2nd grade. Before that, we were just loud in the house.

How does being sisters affect the music process– is it love/hate? How does the rest of the band feel when you all collaborate? It’s love. We certainly have progressive disagreements, but we never really notice them to be fights. When we rehearse, Will and Seth may notice them differently, but we often talk about how dangerously well we all get along.

When did you decide to become Zambri and was the band name an obvious choice for you? We became Zambri in Junior High, I believe. We went with the name because we were easily bored with all our other ideas within days, sometimes minutes. It’s probably why neither of us have had the desire for tattoos. Don’t want to put extra clothes on.

Since Bang For Changes, what has the band been up to? Can we expect a full length soon? The band has actually gone through some major transformations since then. It’s almost a whole new thing. Jessica and I have been working on the new album, which we plan to mix very shortly. We got in the studio with Chris Coady, who we got along with instantly… Much love for him.  Also, we are now playing live with two awesome fellas, Seth Kasper and Will Spitz.  We feel very inspired right now, with all of it.

What has been your favorite song to record/play live? At the moment, they are all really exciting because it’s a whole new show.  I can’t really choose a specific song, but the percussion on every track was really fun. Creating sounds was a big thing for us, on this record. We got verrrrrry into it.

What was it like recording with Jon from Bear In Heaven? How did that come to fruition? It was great. He’s brilliant and awesome.  When we met, I told him that…enthusiastically. Told them all that.  We became instant friends, and sang at some of their shows. Hope to do all of it again in the future.  He sort of sounded like us, pitch-shifted down, no? It’s wild.

You’ve been compared to Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs– would you say any of those are accurate? Really flattered to be categorized amongst such well-respected artists. I’m not really sure how to compare us. I’m often surprised by what people hear in us, because I wouldn’t have thought it myself.   Happy to hang with those three though.

Who are your major musical influences? Most recently, the Chinatown Parade.

What can’t you stop listening to right now? The last hour, I’ve listened to Luigi Russolo – Risveglio Di una Citta (Extract) on repeat. I’ve just realized this while answering this question and kinda can’t believe it. [I was] excited to see Autre Ne Veut live, and I’m changing Luigi to Aphex Twin as we speak. Lots of A names.

Do you have day jobs? If so, what are they? Yes. All sorts. All the time.

Any funny live show/tour stories? This is an old tale, but it’s fitting, as CMJ is around the corner… We played a CMJ show with Peter Bjorn & John and Black Kids one year, and during our set a woman came on stage and bit my rear… hard.  I had a bruise for almost two weeks.  Her apology was “I’m sorry, I’m from Holland”, which explained very little.

And finally, if you weren’t playing music– what would you do? A detective maybe. CIA…Hunt that girl down.

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