Folk music

The Command Sisters at City Folk in Ottawa: The Interview

[Another report from Ottawa correspondent Ross Macdonald. – AC]

The Command Sisters are an indie / alt-rock duo from western Canada and now from Toronto. As the name suggests, the group is made up of sisters Charlotte and Sarah Command; Charlotte writes most of the songs and Sarah is the riff queen. Before they opened for Moist and Our Lady Peace, we were lucky enough to catch up with Charlotte and Sarah.

You started playing folk and country at a very young age and moved into indie / alt-rock. Is it a natural place for you?

Sarah: Growing up, playing country music and writing country and folk music gave us our roots in songwriting and instrumentation.

Charlotte: The opening of Moist and OLP makes it look like it’s going to be a great show to get back to work after sitting on our couch for the past two years.

Your lyrics have depth and maturity, they seem mature to relatively young artists.

Charlotte: As a writer, I draw on news and views of friends on experiences, cultural and life events and politics. It is not necessarily something that I lived, I will write about the love life of Sarah (laughs).

Sarah: When Charlotte writes about world events it will have a deeper meaning; I will hear his song and relate to a relationship that I have been through. Charlotte: I love the meanings hidden in my lyrics.

You seem to be attacking on all fronts, not just musically but also style seems to be a big part of who you are. Is it an intentional vibration?

Sarah: We use social media as an extension of our creative expression. When Charlotte writes songs, we’re very yin and yang all over the place, she’s musically creative and I’m more visually creative in our clips. We asked ourselves how do we make our presence feel like our music is ringing? It’s a creative area, it’s really a fun creative extension of our music.

Charlotte: You should have seen what we looked like when I was picking out the outfits (laughs), it was pretty tragic. Sarah: A friend of ours was guitarist for David Byrne (from Talking Heads) who took us backstage to meet him. He told us that if you wear one thing people will remember you for it. Red, black and white have become that thing for us.

Do you have future collaborations?

Charlotte: Before COVID, we didn’t write with other artists. But when COVID hit, we thought we should write with other groups in the region. We recently wrote a song with Zach Zanardo from the Monowhales

Sarah: Sally (Shaar of the Monoowhales) is a friend, and we haven’t written with her yet. We reached out to BRKN Love and wrote a killer song with them!

Charlotte: We did some collaborations and we have another album in the works after the release of the next EP.

Sarah: We would like to do more collaborations with other artists in Canada, there are so many amazing artists.

What’s next for the Command Sisters?

Charlotte: Before COVID, we were scheduled to release our first single in New York on April 30, 2020, but that was canceled and the EP was pushed back. We are releasing our EP next month. We are writing and will be posting new material in the New Year. When the concerts start to come back, we will put on more live shows.

Sarah: As much as we love social media, we don’t want to be known as just a social media bunch, we don’t want to be labeled that way. We want to be known as a live band, that’s what we love to do, that’s where we get our biggest passion. Our live show is so much fun and we can’t wait to see the day we can hit the road, show it off, and play guitar solos!

The crowds were still building up as the Command Sisters took to the stage at the CityFolk in Ottawa. Charlotte and Sarah performed an acoustic opening act for two of Canada’s biggest established alternative rock groups: Moist and Our Lady Peace.

The sisters were obviously delighted to perform in a music festival after months of virtual performances. They exchanged main and harmonic voices, effortlessly highlighting their years of experience.

The Command Sisters performed their hits “I Like It”, “I Can Do What I Want To” and “Feel Good”, as well as songs like “Good Hands” which will be released soon on their next EP. Sarah even had the opportunity to release her slide in some of her riffs.

The set closed with “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, a song they performed live in Central Park NY in celebration of what would have been John Lennon’s 75th birthday. The crowd were very impressed and know they will see more of this talented group in the making.