Photo Credit: Leigh Righton
Photo Credit: Leigh Righton

Sister Says is a soulful indie pop duo/group based out of Vancouver fronted by mixed Haida-Tsimshian siblings Gillian and Robert Thomson. Smooth, dreamy, melodic and lyrically rich, Sister Says’s roots stem from the soul, blues and pop music the two grew up around as children. In regards to the duo/band’s name…. years back Gillian suggested the name Sister Says. Robert laughed and then said “yeah let’s call it Sister Says”. Seemingly Gillian leads the project but in actual fact both siblings bring their musical and creative attributes together in creating and performing. They are also fortunate to collaborate with a close knit crew of talented musicians that include: guitarists Lonny Eagleton and Keith Sinclair and drummers Max Ley, Trevor Ainsworth and Geoff Hicks.

In live situations Sister Says shape shift effortlessly from an intimate duo, with Gillian narrating on vocals, percussion and keys and Robert laying down the foundation with keys and guitar, to a full band with Robert on bass with often a guitarist, drummer and percussionist.

The project is influenced by a wide range of artists including: The Beach Boys, Rickie Lee Jones, Buffy St. Marie, The Roots, Esthero, The Cure, Nina Simone, Erykah Badu, TLC, Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Patti Smith…..to name more than a few.

Throughout the years they’ve performed in BC, Ontario, Manitoba and Beijing at the likes of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Falcon Trails Resort in Manitoba, Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival in Kaslo, Edge of the World Music Festival in Haida Gwaii, Canadian Music Week in Toronto, Pacific Rim Summer Festival in Tofino, Islands Folk Fest in Duncan, the BC Pavilion in Beijing and at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto opening for Stars and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.

Growing up in a house filled with blues, jazz and soul music, along with catchy pop songs, as youth Gillian and Robert performed with their blues guitar playing father, playing all over Canada before performing as Sister Says. Together they also often collaborate on Meet the Collective Podcast with Trevor Ainsworth where they talk with artists of all disciplines about life and art, with a focus on local BC music.

In December 2014 they released Heart Placement, the band’s much anticipated second album. The album is a departure from Sister Say’s first album The Only Way (nominated for two Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards) which is filled with lush orchestration and jazz infused arrangements. Heart Placement is pared down, soulful, and has an electric feel that at times ties in elements of folk and references early 70’s production. Lyrically the songs are a tell all of heartbreak, loss, growth and light. Currently Sister Says performs as a duo, trio and full band steadily in Vancouver as well as at festivals in BC and are working on their third recording.

“Their sound is smooth, their lyrics intelligent and their creative chemistry produces a new take on songs redolent to Annie Lennox and The Eurhythmics and the 1980’s group Everything But the Girl.” – BC Musician Magazine, Janet Rogers