How many of you could honestly say you could work well with your sibling in a creative setting? Very few of you raised your hands, but sisters behind ALT BLK ERA definitely could because they prove it day in and day out. Their mother recognized how different they were early on and gave them a solid foundation in which to make it work, and it has! They’re a dynamic pair who never fail to deliver two sides of every story in their music with a LUNAR and SOLAR perspective. We talked about that, their upcoming shows, and more like their latest, “Rockstar : LUNAR.” All of that and more awaits…
Kendra: My brother and I each gained a creative skillset and I’ve often thought we should combine them but we’re also siblings and even in our 30s…I feel like our mom would have to come in and break up a fight. Is that something you’ve had to work on as sisters turned musical partners, or have you two naturally been a team since you were kids?
Nyrobi: Apart from a few cheeky wrestling matches when we were younger, me and my sister have always been super close. We’ve got very different personalities so our mom taught us from early on how to be respectful of each other’s space. It’s probably because we are so different that we do get along so well. On the rare occasions when we’ve got on each other’s nerves it’s usually to do with being “hangry.” A bit of food – and all problems fade away!
Kendra: So let’s talk about your most recent single, “Rockstar : LUNAR.” For those not familiar with how you roll, you often present singles with two sides, aesthetics. “Rockstar” delivered the metal while “Rockstar : LUNAR” leans more towards the alternative side of R&B. When you recording your first single, did you have that idea in the back of your minds to move forward that way, or was the first one said and done and you thought – this needs…more?
Nyrobi: Our SOLAR and LUNAR concept was a result of creating an extensive catalogue of songs. We were writing songs throughout lockdown where some had similar themes but different vibes and different perspectives. It was then that we realized how the ‘SOLAR and LUNAR’ versions reflected the differences in personalities and approach to life – with me being very free-spirited and sociable and my sister, Chaya, having a silent- assassin-type tone. From then it just stuck and our K-OS Family really liked it too!
Kendra: The latest version and single, “Rockstar : LUNAR,” also presents this story of realizing a relationship just ain’t working. Sadly, this isn’t something many are capable of doing. Why do you think so many hold onto hope that a dead-end relationship will magically work out?
Nyrobi: I think when people invest so much energy into building hopes and dreams with someone we can hang onto expectations. We can start questioning our worth and by holding out for the scraps of ‘love’ that feel so beautiful in the moment, the mistreatment can get disregarded.
That’s exactly what “Rockstar: LUNAR” is about – being in love with your expectations of a person and not the reality of who they are. This song shows how powerful words are and how they can be internalized to break a person’s spirit. The lyrics change from – “He said my problem is my poor mental health” to “Because I’ve got problems with my own mental health” However, the song does end on a high where self-love allows the person to break free from the emotional harm.
Kendra: Again, your music comes to us often with these varied views; SOLAR and LUNAR and I thought, well – this has to represent each of them, and I was correct. Do you feel that if you were more similar that ALT BLK ERA just wouldn’t work as well?
Nyrobi: I think our opposite but complementary personalities are definitely a big part of ALT BLK ERA. You can see the Solar and Lunar in our stage presence, in our lyrics, in the way we dress, in our photos, and in our interviews. What’s beautiful is that some of our listeners relate to me and my big energy and some relate to Chaya’s much cooler energy. Someone said we’re like “if the Queen of Hearts and Wednesday Adams linked up” and who wouldn’t want to hang with them right?!?!?
Kendra: I really enjoy the sort of yin and yang ALT BLK ERA gives because for me, as a Black girl who grew up loving ‘90s pop and R&B, but who came of age via emo and pop punk, I do have that duality in me as well. Is it safe to assume that your Spotify playlists are as varied as your style?
Nyrobi: Varied would be an understatement!
We’ve always had a deep appreciation for world music. Growing up on old-school Reggae, Soul, and R&B. Then finding Russian Rap to K-pop to Afro Beats to Japanese Metal, and D&B.
Again, our Solar and Lunar personalities shine through with Chaya listening to R&B, Grunge, Emo, and Gothic music (in various languages) to me listening to Grime, Japanese Metal, and D&B. We both stick to our own tastes and occasionally link up in the kitchen for a throwback session.
Kendra: Time for a side note – We’d love to know when you perform, do you have any sort of lucky charms you take with you on stage, or do you have any sort of pre-show traditions you do to ensure you have a great show?
Nyrobi: YESSSS! We actually do! Our mother is a psychologist and she told us about the power of body language and how this influences your thought- processes including how confident you feel. Our pre-show tradition is to put our hands in the air and puff our chests out and this makes us feel super confident as all dominant animals make themselves bigger.
So after the occasional mini-panic attacks, we make ourselves big. Then, when our intro drops we jump and hit each other in excitement. This works so well with our band members too. We all go on stage hyped!
Kendra: Lastly, with “Rockstar : LUNAR” out now, what else can the world expect as we focus on spring and soon enough, summer?
Nyrobi: We’ve got soooo many plans!!! (and just about enough hours in the day to get through them all!)
We have a very very special track dropping on March 31st – it drops on the same day as our first headline show in our home city of Nottingham, UK – so stay tuned for that! We’ve got a few festivals booked for the summer which will be announced soon
And we’ve been spending A LOT of time in the studio working on our debut EP – which drops later this year too!
Our music doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre so we’re super excited to see how this will be received.