Interview with Sister Sledge ahead of Tramlines 2014.
What would music be like these days if it weren’t for Sister Sledge? Bungalows and Bears DJ sets and Leadmill Saturdays wouldn’t be the same, that’s for sure. It is for this reason (amongst many others) that Sheffield are over the moon to welcome the girl group onto the Tramlines stage. Their Saturday set is guaranteed to involve all the classics we know and love, and a connection within the crowd that would rival any fibre optic broadband provider. Their songs must have some relevance to Sheffield- ‘He’s The Greatest Dancer’ is evidently an ode to the body-thrusting of Jarvis Cocker, and the titular ‘Sledge’ was obviously made out of Sheffield steel. Okay, we might be pushing things a bit there, but we’re still thrilled that the girls will be visiting. Samantha Fielding gave Joni and Debbie a ring in the states to talk festivals, girl power, and to see whether they’re as excited as we are.
Hello from the UK! What’s the weather like there today?
D: Well I’m in New York, and Joni is in Phoenix [over Skype].
J: Yesterday the weather here reached 117 degrees Fahrenheit, so very very warm!
D: I’m so glad I’m not there! But New York is also warm and muggy…
Well you don’t need to worry about the weather being that warm here, but I hope you’ll bring some of the sunshine with you! We’re so looking forward to your headlining slot. What can we expect at Tramlines?
D: Some new things, and of course we’re doing the hits! We’re gonna mix it up a bit too, adding a little jazz, some R&B, and getting the crowd involved.
J: No concert we do is the same, because no audience is the same. So we’re constantly creating as we go. We absolutely love touring in the UK. You give us a lot of love and we’re gonna give it back.
D: Yes, we love interacting with you!
We like the sound of some new stuff, can you give us any more info?
J: Our new album is called Women are the Rhythm of the World, as we’re always fascinated and empowered by the incredible women who surround our career. The album is a tribute to them.
There definitely is a lot of girl power running through your music, who inspires you?
D: We have influences around the world. Growing up we had very strong female influences, with our mom, grandmothers, aunts- we grew up in a very matriarchal family. Through history, there have been so many strong women. Maya Angelou was an incredible contributor to the cause. We’re also so inspired by artists like Chaka Khan.
J: Our grandmother once travelled with Eleanor Roosevelt, as she educated and empowered women all over the US. Our family were fantastic influences daily.
You played at Bestival a couple of years ago- what do you enjoy about the festival hype?
D: Festivals are the place to be in the summer! The great thing about them is how people come together just to have fun and enjoy the music, nothing else. There’s such a sense of unity.
J: There’s such a collective energy, through so many people. It’s overwhelming to feel such a powerful connection to such a huge crowd. It’s breath-taking actually. The crowds are great, especially in the UK.
Well, we can’t wait. When was the last time you were in Sheffield?
J: It’s been a long while! I’m looking forward to seeing the city again and meeting you all.
D: We have friends in Sheffield so we’re really looking forward to seeing them, and making some new ones!
And will you be partying after the show?
J: We’ll be partying the minute we step off of the plane.
D: I can’t wait for us to laugh together and dance together and have some fun.
What do you think of the rest of the line-up?
D: The line-up looks very interesting, so many great acts. That’s another good thing about the festival atmosphere for us- meeting other great talents that we love, and getting a glimpse of new, local talent. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’ve got.
J: It’s going to be great to hang out backstage, take some pictures, and talk about travels and experiences with other artists. It’s all a part of the festival fun.
What were you listening to whilst you were making it big yourselves?
J: We loved a load of strong, powerful artists. Growing up, we heard everything from African, Jazz, Club Tropicana. Stevie Wonder basically lived with us! So we had quite a lot of diverse influences.
D: Quite a lot of our music originated from the UK. One of Joni’s favourite artists is Seal. And we love the music of Heatwave.
Finally, we all want to know- who IS the greatest dancer?
J: Oh my gosh! That’s the hardest question ever!
D: The greatest dancer will be there at Tramlines Festival on the 26th. We’ll all find out together.
What a great answer. Thanks so much for chatting to us, ladies! We can’t wait.
J: Thank you! There’s nothing greater than love- that’s the last thing I want to say!
Sister Sledge will be playing the Tramlines Main Stage at 20:45. Will you be the greatest dancer? For more information, visit www.tramlines.org.uk.
Desperate for disco-funk?
If you like Sister Sledge, you might also love:
JUCE- flawless 90’s sunshine funk. Saturday, Main Stage, 14:00.
Lulu James- soulful vocals complimented by house beats. Friday, O2 Academy, 01:00.
M.O- A blend of old and contemporary hip-hop, perfect for the seekers of female empowerment. Saturday, Main Stage, 15:00.
Horse Meat Disco- legendary disco sets, played till the early hours. Saturday, Queens Social Club, 01:00.
Matt Jam Lamont- mixer of fantastic funk anthems and a great way to finish the weekend. Sunday, The Harley, 01:00.
Top 5 family-based bands that Sister Sledge could beat in a fight (probably):
The Everly Brothers