Alternative solution from Malta – interview with Cryptic Street
It’s not often that you hear of an all-female rock band from Malta, but Cryptic Street is as good as they come! We had a chance to interview the up-and-coming band who present a diverse, but very balanced style of alternative rock, full of meaning and ideas.
Can you briefly introduce the band to our readers in Hungary? What are the main themes of Cryptic Street’s music?
Cryptic Street can be considered as an alternative all-female rock band. We started out in 2011. Since then, four of the original members have remained in the band: Leona Farrugia as the main vocalist, Denise Gilford on keyboards, Janelle Borg on electric guitar, and Julia Hickey on drums. Vocals feature heavily in our music, and all the members do backing vocals. An important aspect in our music is society – discrimination, feminism, stereotypes, time, technology and its importance in today’s day and age, are topics which we explore. As a band, we all like to discuss these issues. Such matters are not commonly explored in music in general and we feel that it is important to convey these messages to our listeners.
You like to incorporate different styles into your brand of alternative pop-rock. What bands and what kind of music were you inspired by, and how do these musical roots influence the overall sound of the band?
Originally, we were heavily influenced by Coldplay. However, we then started to listen to other bands and artists from different genres and eras. Janelle and Denise diverged from a classical background. Leona is influenced by jazz, as well as 80’s music. Julia’s brother, Jim Hickey, is a musician based in Berlin. He inspires Julia, and has influenced her all throughout her musical career.
By listening to different musical styles – ranging from jazz, to K-Pop, to punk, and to prog-metal, we incorporate aspects of each in order to create something innovative.
The music video of your debut single Indecisive was featured on Coldplay’s website. How did you manage to make that happen? How did you feel after it was shown there, did anything change concerning the band?
Coldplay had a section on their website which was intended to showcase different artists from around the world. We submitted our music video, and luckily, it was chosen to appear. This happened when we were only 14. It definitely gave us the moral boost that what we were doing was working out well, in addition to giving us great exposure.
You released your new EP Stranger last year. What is the concept behind the record?
The EP came after four year of brainstorming and experimentation, resulting in a stronger musical chemistry between us. The EP, which was released on the 21st of August 2015, was supported by the Malta Arts Fund. The title, Stranger, is a result of the themes explored in the EP. It is a progression – the first track (the title track) describes the sheer feeling of loneliness which is typical of urban life nowadays, the second track Kull Lejla is an adaptation of a poem written by Maltese poetess Beverly Agius which explores sincerity in relationships, the third track Fumes was hugely inspired by Orwell’s novel 1984, the fourth track Farsa describes the relationship between a middle aged man and a prostitute, and the last track, 103, comments on the half-truths and propaganda present in the media and politics.
You have two songs on the EP sung in Maltese. Can you tell us about the message of these tracks? To you, what is the significance of including these songs in your mother tongue?
We wanted to incorporate our mother tongue in order to showcase it. Although there are some key musicians in Malta who write in Maltese, we wanted to experiment with the language. It was initially a challenge since it was something new, but now we find it easy to write an alternative song in Maltese. The two tracks which are in Maltese – Kull Lejla and Farsa – each convey an important message which continues to expand on the evaluation and reflection that we did about the complexity of societies.
What is the music scene like in Malta? Should we be on the lookout for any exciting bands (besides Cryptic Street of course :-))?
The Maltese music scene is vibrant. There are a lot of very talented musicians – ranging from powerful pop singers to heavy metal bands, and anything in between. There are also some Maltese musicians who are based abroad. There are so many exciting artists that it would be unfair to only mention some! The best thing is to discover Maltese music blogger’s blogs – such as www.mikebugeja.com and www.tonisant.com – who always manage to keep themselves and their readers up to date with the latest Maltese artists.
Finally, what are your plans for this year? Will you be visiting any foreign countries on tour, possibly Hungary?
Last year we had some performances in Malta, the EP launch, as well as a mini-promotion tour in Brussels. This year, we have some performances around Malta. We are also aspiring to perform in the UK. We would definitely love to perform in Hungary in the near future since most of us visited the country and fell in love with the place!