Sing-Sing Biography

Sing-Sing is not a prison in New York or a panda from China but a pop group from Britain. Sing-Sing is Lisa O'Neill who sings and Emma Anderson who plays guitar. Between them they write the most perfect, atmospheric songs.

They met in a kitchen in their then boyfriends’ smelly flat in Camden Town in London, 1997. Little did they know at the time that whilst the boyfriends would be history, their musical paths were to be linked.

Lisa, who had been singing with various people whilst working as an animator, did not know that Emma had been looking for a singer since the end of her band Lush in 1996. A mutual friend alerted Emma to the fact that Lisa had sung and co-written a song on the Locust LP 'Morning Light', which it just so happened that Emma owned. The song, of course, was brilliant and they soon discovered that boyfriends from Camden were not the only things that they had in common. They both had very eclectic tastes in music and wanted to pull all these influences together to create something other than a four-piece guitar band or a straight dance act. They wanted a unique sound – part 60's, part electro, part folk but always based on solid tunes. Sing-Sing was born.

Lisa hooked them up with technical wizard Mark Van Hoen and they soon had four songs demoed including the irresistible 'Feels Like Summer' as well as 'Hit and Run', 'Command' and 'Panda Eyes'. Emma's old friends Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde of the Cocteau Twins were the first to hear the results and agreed to put the first three tracks out as a single on their own Bella Union label. Soon they were being offered gigs and so a live band was needed. They found Miguel Morland, who used to be in Moonshake amongst others, on drums, Poppy Gonzalez, whom Emma had toured with in the US when she played keyboards with Mojave 3 and Shifty on bass. They debuted this line up at ULU in July 1998, playing six songs in front of 300 people at a show that was deemed a great success. The single was released in October 1998 to a flurry of positive press and many spins on radio. More gigs followed before Simon Williams offered to put a single out on his legendary Fierce Panda label. 'I Can See You' came out as a double A-side with Linoleum in February 1999. More gigs followed including shows abroad at the La Locomotive in Paris and an acoustic show in Copenhagen.

Looking to be masters of their own destiny the duo decided to set up their own label, Aerial Records. Having secured meagre financial backing and with enough songs for an LP, Mark Van Hoen was recruited once more to shape the first Sing-Sing album. Slowly but surely, and with contributions from many friends, the album took shape. Although it was great fun to do, funds were scarce, and studio downtime was used where possible meaning that the process took longer than was usual. Eventually the first single from the LP saw the light of day. 'I'll Be' was released on 15th May 2000. Critical acclaim followed bringing with it support slots with the likes of Black Box Recorder and Geneva. One show even saw Tim Keegan of the Departure Lounge joining Lisa on stage for a magical rendition of 'Keep It That Way'.

Next, Hugo Nicolson was brought on board to rework 'Feels Like Summer' and give to it the extra kick that it required. Radio embraced it with playlists on XfM, BBC London Live and Radio 1's Mark Radcliffe daytime show. Acoustic sessions were aired live for Tim Lovejoy's XfM show and Sean Rowley's (All Back To Mine) London Live show. More gigs followed, including a riotous appearance at Alan McGee’s 'Radio 4' club night at the Notting Hill Arts Club, where the queue outside stretched halfway around the block leaving many people still outside whilst the band were on stage! Another was a last minute invitation to support Sparks at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. With the band unavailable, Lisa and Emma put together an acoustic show with Audrey Riley on cello that was another unqualified success. Even Russell Mael complimented them on their performance in front of a packed house.

In October 2000 Sing-Sing completed two of their most successful shows to date – Camdemonium in London and the prestigious CMJ Seminar in New York. The latter attracted American Sing-Sing fans from as far as Philadelphia and Los Angeles who already had the lyrics and album titles memorised! 2001 and Alan McGee, formerly head of hugely successful UK label Creation, asked the girls if he could release the LP on his new label Poptones. They agreed and the band’s debut album, 'The Joy of Sing-Sing' was released on October 1st with a limited edition 7" single 'Tegan' preceding it. The live band was slimmed down too with Darren Groucutt replacing Mig on drums and Lisa taking over from Poppy on the keyboards. Reaction to the album was great and the band is currently planning a trip to California for early 2002 to secure a North American deal.

October 2001

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