KST Connects with SolSis

KST Connects with SolSis

What happens when you combine two dynamic individual artists into a group? The result is a musical pairing like none other Pittsburgh has seen. It’s SolSis—the name of the new performance duo formed by artists Ma’Ve and YahLioness.

Ma’Ve and YahLioness have made their rounds through Pittsburgh’s poetry circuit. As regular performers at the BridgeSpotters’ Midnight Espresso Series in the early 2000s—of which Ve was a co-founder of the BridgeSpotters Artists Collective—and the Shadow Lounge’s Hip-Hop Café Series, neither performer is a stranger to the spotlight. These two artists, who are best known for their spoken word, prove that they have more to offer.

But as often as their paths crossed and their friendship further developed, it wasn’t until recently that the two decided to unite their talents. As musicians and songwriters, Ma’Ve and YahLioness formed SolSis about two years ago and are poised to display their musical talents. SolSis will debut its live show at the SUNSTAR Women in Music Festival.

SolSis recently sat down with writer Michelle Massie to share the story of their creative journey for KST Connect.

MM: How did you come up with the name SolSis?

MV: It’s the solar system and the sun; it’s solace; it’s the solstice; it’s the sound system. It’s everything that surrounds us. It’s where we pull our energy.

MM: How would you describe your sound?

YL: SolSis is the ripening of a relationship that’s gone through a growth process. I would describe us as a tapestry of soul experience as it pertains to music and sound in general. There is maturity in our sound. It’s difficult to classify because it draws from so many different influences. Until you hear the music you can’t figure out what that taste is.

MV: I like to say that our sound is grand. It isn’t any particular genre because we represent so many different experiences and tastes. Really, our sound is an entire plate of adjectives, if you will.

YL: It’s definitely music. That’s what our sound is—music.

MM: What finally brought the two of you together as a group?

YL: It just felt like the right time. We had to learn some lessons as artists before we were ready to take the next step. We had to go through some stuff—business-wise and creatively—before we were ready to enter into something bigger than ourselves. Natural chemistry—when it came to creativity—brought us together, but now we’re armed with more information such as the legal aspects of business to move us forward. We’re still in our blossoming phase and this is our first harvest.

MM: Why did you choose to have your debut performance during the SUNSTAR Festival?

MV: First and foremost, it’s janera solomon and the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, so it’s a solid project. We’re currently creating our album and this is a springboard.

[SolSis expects to release their first yet-to-be-titled album this summer.]

MM: What is the importance of recognizing women in music?

MV: There’s simply too much to share for anyone to be ignored. Female artists are developing, cultivating, collaborating and willing to share our offerings like anyone else.

YL: There’s not a broad enough scope of womanhood that is being recognized in popular culture. What is being promoted to us as consumers is not informative enough or expansive enough of who we are. Everything is cookie-cutter; a product that is being packed and put out for us to consume. It’s not an earnest offering. This right here—SolSis—is an earnest offering.

MV: We are what we’ve been waiting for. We are the by-products of what we want to see.

MM: What have you learned as a working artist that has helped you in your career?

MV: Ownership. We’ve learned about ownership and autonomy—how to truly have control over your art. Being able to produce it, protect it and profit from it. A lot of performers don’t learn about the business side of art. It was necessary to learn and understand all of this.

Also, I really cannot work with people professionally that I do not have a good relationship with personally.

YL: I’ve learned that I’ll never perform without a contract. You need those particulars, specifics to charter through.

I’ve also learned that you have to be yourself at all times. The truer I am to my music and myself, the more cohesive it is.

MM: Who were some of your influences?

MV: I sing the blues. Ray Charles, Nina Simone…I just want to hear something timeless fill the room.

YL: I was influenced by so many artists: The Roots, Tupac, Jill Scott, Erykah [Badu], TLC, MC Lyte, Tina [Turner], Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill.

MM: What inspires you?

YL: Since we started recording, I hear the possibilities of music. Sometimes I crave The Roots or Jill or Erykah but ultimately, the music that SolSis is creating is the music I want to hear. My heart and soul is in it.

MM: How would you describe your creative process?

YL: I have to be inspired. Inspiration; that’s what causes the creativity. Once I am inspired, it helps to control my language, my mood. It’s just a natural occurrence.

MM: What would you like your legacy to be?

MV: Comeback when it’s legacy season. Seriously, I’m still building it.

YL: There’s so much more that I want to communicate. I want to communicate my sound with clarity and authenticity that will last through the ages. Music is such a powerful thing. If someone says the right thing the right way, it could your life.

SolSis appears at SUNSTAR on March 6, 2009 with Bahamadia, Ethel Cee, AngelEYE, K Maize & DJ Ultraviolet.

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