Savage Sister's newest release, Huge Moves 7", comes at a transitional moment for the band. After a guitar-less EP, Wild Sleep, and in the wake of a vinyl release, Huge Moves offers a brief yet complete take on the unique place Savage Sister occupies in the Chicago DIY, dream music scene.
Michael Tenzer, frontman of Savage Sister, had an existential crisis at 26 when he moved home to St. Louis after attending college in Chicago. In May of 2012, the desperation in his relocation inspired him to create music as Savage Sister.
The original band consisted of drummer, Nicholas Piontek, bassist, Jamie Kerry (who was found through a Craigslist ad) and vocalist, Kate Gettinger. The group put out their first EP, Legs June of 2012.
"This is back when I wasn’t quite as sure how to produce music as I am now and it definitely shows," Tenzer said. "But eventually life got in the way. Jamie moved to North Carolina and Kate went back to school for optometry."
Tenzer decided to move back to Chicago, and found current Savage Sister members: vocalist, Chloe Lundgren and bassist, Caitlin Klask.
"Last June we released our first debut album, it was self-released digitally," Tenzer said. "Since then we’ve been a pretty prolific band. I don’t sit idly with music because I like throwing ideas out there and seeing what works."
Their most recent release, Huge Moves 7", released June 6 of this year was created after Tenzer took a brief hiatus from the guitar.
"I was thinking 'we’re a shoegaze band but we don’t even use guitar, what do you think about that?'" Tenzer said. "But that didn’t last too long because I started to miss the fluidity of playing, the guitar is by far my strongest instrument."
"Huge Moves" begins with a drumbeat that calls to mind a climactic romance scene out of a John Hughes movie. It's then paired with an ethereal layer of reverb and the sylph-like voice of Lundgren.
The next track, "Composure", acts as an interlude between the title song and "Little Claws." It's drenched in reverb and plays as an introspective reflection – a fresh rinse before the next expression is made.
"I made that song ["Composure"} pretty quickly actually...cumulatively speaking in about two days" Tenzer said. "Any ambient prelude that you hear on the albums, it’s more about the feeling and capturing some kind of emotion. Even if it’s similar, it’s going to be different to the person who’s listening. They’re total mood pieces. I like to include those because I think it’s a nice ebb and flow."
The final track "Little Claws" begins with another ear-catching beat, but this time is met with a solid melody that brings a different side of Savage Sister. A more tangible, grounded song.
"It’s just a funky, very dreampop track," Tenzer said. "We have that funkier dreampop side where we like to indulge ourselves a bit. You can bounce to it."
In October, the band plans on releasing a full-length vinyl with BLVD Records, a local Chicago record label.
"The vinyl is going to be trying to balance those two aspects of creating something – in a romantic way, creating that atmosphere that I strive to have, but also making it fun and enjoyable to listen to in all different scenarios, not just in your headphones," Tenzer said.
Tenzer doesn't believe Savage Sister occupies space exclusively in the genres of shoegaze or dreampop. He thinks of his music as "dreamgaze" with influence from ambient sources like Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel as well as shoegaze bands like Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins.
"It's such an obnoxious term [dreamgaze]...but we want to craft melodies that are essential to the song and not just layers," Tenzer said. "We try to draw elements from all of the dream spectrum of music."
Tenzer's goal creating music as Savage Sister is to combine the sense of conceptual romanticism with a digestible structure.
"I think ambient is almost a description of–this is going to sound lame–but it's a description of romance to me," Tenzer said. "Like orally speaking, I wanted it to be very romantic, transcendent. Ambient music has always really spoken to me because that's the kind of the person I am and what I find important in life."
The name of the band also reflects the transcendent yet comforting sound they have. It came from one of Tenzer's favorite movies, The Silence (1963), about two competitive sisters who travel across the country. The movie described by Tenzer, highlights the best and worst aspects of women, something that he associates with the romanticism in his music.
"Our music is informed by a feminine energy even though it’s primarily coming from me," Tenzer said. "It’s almost my conceptual–this is going to sound really pretentious– like my conceptual idea of coming to terms with both the reality of women and also the idealism that I have of women, and just the duality of it. A women can be amazing but also disgusting, like everybody. But being a hetero-man, that’s what I’m interested in."
For more from Savage Sister, check out their extensive catalogue of music at their Bandcamp.