“French girls, power female directors, and lots of champagne and smoke bombs… An amazing shoot.” If you haven’t seen the music video for SIR’s “So Cold” just yet, you’re going to want to after reading that.
SIR is vocalist Sarah Angela, bassist Kim O’Hara, and Luke Mehrens. The trio met in Denver, Colorado, where they reside and perform regularly. With only two singles to their name, they have already landed a show at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, one of America’s most notable venues. On top of that, they’re also preparing for their fourth year running as SXSW performers.
In the era of instant gratification, SIR makes a pretty compelling case for careful curation, whether that be in the form of music or visuals—or both, as is the case with “So Cold,” a visually compelling romp through the California badlands, filmed over three days in Joshua Tree.
“It’s bonfires and champagne and French girls,” Sarah remarks with a laugh. “It was a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun filming it, and you can really see that. We had really good luck finding really good cinematographers and videographers,” she continues.
While the chorus is singable enough for pop radio, there is a painful undercurrent running through both the song and the video. After watching a former bandmate walk away and suffering through the creative equivalent of a breakup, SIR decided to distill the grief they felt at losing a former collaborator into a more “commercial” format: the story of a breakup between two people, told in a striking film-like style that complements the song’s gritty ambience.
Although you’d be hard-pressed to see them doing it nowadays, SIR went through a phase “for about four years” in which they recorded a lot of pop songs “very quickly.” But something changed after half a decade on the road, listening to endless new music on rotation. Sarah, Kim, and Luke noticed a distinct lack of originality and authenticity in what they were hearing on Soundcloud, Pandora, and Spotify.
“I feel like a lot of the different pop and EDM stuff is missing lyrics and actual meaning,” Kim admits. “It’s all done electronically, and, if it’s all done electronically, not everyone can relate to it.”
Despite their small catalog, the band has a thriving demographic ranging in age from “around eighteen to sixty-five, all genders.” Eventually, they hope to lock down the young female demographic, which is currently dominated by edgy indie pop chanteuse Ashley Frangipane, who created her blue-haired stage persona Halsey after putting in her time playing to small crowds in Brooklyn before quickly skyrocketing to the top of the pop and EDM charts.
Unafraid to tackle the issues many musicians steer clear of, such as feminism and politics, SIR appreciate the Halsey comparisons they often receive, though they don’t completely understand them.
“I’m a fan of Halsey, for sure,” Kim shares. “I think she’s done some really cool stuff in the last couple years. I don’t hear so much of her stuff in ours, but we definitely take it as a compliment,” she adds.
Luke agrees that the comparisons are flattering, while Sarah’s admiration for Halsey lies in her openness about her female sexuality and strength, which she sees as indicative of the young teen girl demographic’s desire for strong, unapologetic role models. “She’s hot. She’s strong. She’s gained the demographic we’re really hoping for: young women, and young girls,” Sarah states.
From lugging gear through the streets of Austin in the sweltering heat to hiring their own crew to writing their first openly political song, SIR admit that they are still navigating the challenges that come with being a new band on the rise. Nonetheless, they are determined not to stay silent on issues that matter to them. But in such a complicated political climate, how can musicians effectively tackle politics without alienating red-state fans?
“Well,” Sarah discloses, “it’s a fickle, fickle thing. You have to be careful, because politically, playing the game and saying things that go across the board—it’s smart business. But I can’t do it. As musicians, we have a platform, and we want to use it.”
Kim explains that their outspokenly anti-Trump song, “NMP,” will be released later this year, along with one more single, before the full album comes out in November. “We’re planning on November. Originally, we were aiming for the end of October. We’re having a hard time solidifying a set date, but we’re planning on starting pre-sales in the next month.”
If you’re intrigued by SIR’s unique sound or hoping to add some anti-fascist pop songs to your fall playlist, you can follow the band on all social media platforms: @thesirband.
INTERVIEW + WORDS: CARLY BUSH