Cryptic Street is a Maltese band made of 5 young girls full of energy and they’ve just launched their debut EP called Stranger. According to Toni Saint, they are ‘a new all-girl pop rock group on the local music scene which will certainly go a long way to diffusing the testosterone saturated environment.’ Their songs portray discrimination, social injustice and stereotyping. The EP has an alternative rock base with a splash of electronica and experimental. I met Janelle Borg-guitarist and Denise Gilford-keyboardist during their short stay in Brussels and this is what they told me around a cup of coffee.
You’ve recently launched your debut EP ” Stranger” which has 5 songs. How is it going?
Denise: We’re pretty proud of the EP and the launch was really something because we organised everything from scratch. It’s a good feeling and the feedback has been quite good.
Your band was basically born from a poem exercise… And actually one of your songs, Kull Lejla, is a poem. Can you tell us about that?
Janelle: We were in school together and we had to adapt a poem to music for our literature class. An English ballet. And it went quite well so we decided to keep it up and explore what we could become. Denise: As for our two songs in Maltese, Kull Lejla -which means “every night”and Farsa, they fall within our urge to promote our language. Not many artists sing in Maltese.
You are often described as an all-girl band. Do you think it’s a relevant way to describe you? Does the fact that you are all women respond to a conscious “gender-driven” decision or do you just happen to be all female and one shouldn’t over analyse it?
Janelle: Initially, it was by chance. See, we were in an all-girls school so we didn’t have much choice! Then people started viewing us as an all-girls band and that set a gender stereotype hovering over us which isn’t always welcome. The music scene in Malta is still very sexist. Women are often sexualised. So gender issues have become a battle we are committed to.
Your EP portrays our busy societies and some of the issues we are confronted to. Do you think our ever present technology makes us lonely?
Janelle: Everyone is clicking away on their smart phones and it irritates me. People end up spying on one another and spend all of their time creating a fake image of themselves. Facebook pictures portray happy and social people. When actually, they’re too busy taking a selfie to actually be with the people around them.
What do you think of the pace we live in?
Denise: You have to learn to enjoy the moment because we live in a super fast society. Everyone has stuff to do and people end up being busy and lonely. Malta has the slight advantage of being small so everyone is just 5 minutes away.
If you could go on any music concert (past or present), which one would it be?
Janelle: Warpaint. An all girl-band that really inspired me in their chill out attitude. Denise: Pink Floyd.
Is there a Belgian artist on your playlist?
Denise: Stromae. I love his sense of aesthetics and his songs.
Where will you be performing in the upcoming months?
Janelle: Mostly in Maltese festivals but we’re trying to go abroad, probably the UK. We’re still 18 so we’re taking it step by step. Things will come…
Malta is one of countries most affected by Europe’s refugee crisis. What are your views on this historic phenomenon?
Janelle: Racism is still very strong in Malta. Society is still quite homogenous and most Maltese aren’t used to diversity. Fear from the unknown is common. Maybe it’s the ghost lingering from the successive conquests. But things are starting to open up.
So… Brusselsprouts: how do you have yours?
We may not eat many brusselsprouts but we are like them: small and about to explode!