Spotlight on: Say She She
Say She She is a female-led ‘discodelic soul band’, made up by Piya Malik, Sabrina Mileo Cunningham and Nya Gazelle Brown and formed after a series of serendipitous moments at rooftop parties and performances across New York City.
Over the past year or so, the band has released a series of singles, followed by the critically acclaimed debut LP ‘Prism’, and played shows and appeared on national TV and radio across the USA.
We caught up with the band to learn more about their creative process, where they take their inspiration, and what audiences can expect from their first show in Bristol this month at Lost Horizon on Sat 18 Mar 2023.
The making of ‘Prism’ and evolving their sound
The band describe their sound as a hat-tip to late 70s girl groups, and their catalogue is full of dreamy harmonies, catchy hooks and uptempo grooves. “We had a clear vision for the type of music we wanted to make in this project from the start”, the band say. “The name Say She She is a silent nod to Nile Rodgers (a homophone in French; ‘c’est Chi-Chi’ or ‘it’s CHIC’) – Nile is an undeniably prolific writer and producer and no matter what he touches, his music makes listeners dance and feel uplifted. That is what we always wanted to emulate and create in our own way with Say She She.”
“We also always wanted to be free of genre and not defined by one label. Our dream is that one day you can find a Say She She record in every corner and crate in the records shop. A song for different moods that reflect the multifaceted nature of us as women.”
Indeed ‘Prism’ has garnered praise from critics and listeners alike for its eclectic sound, with its songs originating from piano-centred sessions and demos then laid down to tape, giving it its rich, analogue sound.
Our best melodies are a collaborative effort and usually the lyrics fall out of us after lengthy discussions and sharing of stories – we each are able to channel our shared experiences so what arises is an amalgamation of our collective emotions.”
Say She She
Since the end of lockdown restrictions, the trio have been intent on further evolving their sound. “We were itching to get out of our apartments and make music with our friends again so we approached things a bit differently once we were able to travel”, say the band. “Instead of writing a song individually in front of the piano and bringing it to the group we wanted to feel the energy of a rhythm section while writing, so we started writing songs from scratch with our band in the room. That change instantly made a difference for us and inspired a new creative energy that allowed us to further define our sound…we were really able to lean into the more uptempo grooves with a rhythm section present.”
The importance of community and friendship
Despite differing greatly in size, both Bristol and New York share an emphasis on community, collaboration and a DIY ethos which inspires each city’s artists and musicians.
“New York is such a melting pot of ideas and cultures and we feel that our music directly benefited from being immersed in that”, reflects Sabrina. “The level of creativity of people around you trying to play out also pushes you to be better and more dynamic and inspires you to keep working harder. This city teaches you grit and determination – two things that you need to survive in the music biz”.
We couldn’t have asked for a better partnership! We absolutely love working side by side with one another…we are best friends at the core with a shared common goal so we have a very solid foundational relationship…”
Say She She
The warmth and friendship between the three female leads is immediately apparent. This closeness has been imperative when overcoming difficult situations and has lent an authentic power to singles such as ‘Forget Me Not’ and ‘NORMA’, which challenge racial and gender discrimination.
“We want to inspire people with our music”, say the band. “We were so touched that our own frustrations about the anti-abortion issues resonated with others via our song NORMA. There is still so much work to be done but we are proud that we can use our voices to try to inspire change and hopefully one day restore a woman’s right to choose in all the states.”
From studio to stage
The joy and magic of live music is clearly deeply felt for the group. “Performing our songs live and seeing people dance and react to them in real time is what we live for”, says Sabrina. The growing buzz around the band has been bolstered by a string of live appearances this year opening for Thee Sacred Souls and their own shows across the US in 2022.
With their UK and EU tour a matter of days away, the trio are now looking forward to their first live performance as a band in Bristol.
You can expect to dance the night away and hopefully leave with a buzz! It’s our first time together as a band but Piya’s two sisters both lived here so there is a deep connection to the city! We love Bristol, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the UK and we love the creative community of artists making cool stuff happen here.”
Say She She