Midnight Sister: Loving The Alien

Midnight Sister is walking the dark streets of L.A.

When dancer, writer and filmmaker Juliana Giraffe met composer Ari Balouzian and began discussing their artistic aspirations, they never considered starting a band or making an album. One night, Balouzian sent Giraffe a song he was working on, asking for feedback.

“It was the instrumental track of ‘Their Eyes,’” says Giraffe. “I listened to it in the car on my way to work. The tune was eerily in sync with how I felt in that moment. I wrote and recorded on it and sent it back. It was a weird thing to do, thinking back on it, but I felt compelled by the music.”

Balouzian liked what he heard, and the duo began collaborating on the songs that make up Midnight Sister’s debut, Saturn Over Sunset (Jagjaguwar). The album’s 14 songs are well-crafted vignettes that follow lost souls wandering the nighttime streets of Hollywood looking for love, haunted by their fears and insecurities. Giraffe’s discreet, understated vocals have a bemused quality that underscores the alienation felt by her protagonists.

“I’m not an experienced singer,” she says. “This is the first time I’ve written music or recorded, so maybe that naïveté and rawness accounts for the eerie, detached ambience. There’s a lot of longing attached to my writing, but I wasn’t aiming for anything. That’s just how the feelings behind the words rolled off the tongue.”

Balouzian supplied the album’s subtle music, with their friend Alex Izenberg adding guitar textures and multi-instrumentalist Max Whipple helping to flesh out the arrangements. Many songs end with extended, cinematic codas that give the musicians a chance to drift off into unexplored musical and emotional territory.

“I see the outros as soundtracks to Juliana’s scenarios, like scenes from a film,” says Balouzian. “You can take people places they wouldn’t expect themselves to be by mixing the familiar with the unfamiliar.”

—j. poet