th’sheridans (always written without capitalisation and with apostrophe in pride of place) are a London-based duo consisting of Adam Sherif and Julia Oertli. The band describe themselves as a, “DIY incongru-pop outfit” and are inspired by food, dating, small towns and, “using radical softeness as a response to everyday racism and sexism”. The pair have self-released a number of singles, the most recent of which was Architecture, shared back in December.
While previously material has taken more of a mid-noughties, indie style reminscent of the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel or Wolf Parade, Architecture dials up the folk influences, bringing Julia’s viola work and Adam’s bright acoustic guitars to the fore. Nodding to The Mountain Goats, before they started writing high-concept albums about wrestling or D’n’D, Architecture seems to touch on the quiet poignancy to be found in the every day. Behind the songs simple goals of coffee mornings, nights in and “football games on Sundays”, there seems to lurk a questioning quality, perhaps seeing these simple goals aren’t as achievable as they once seemed; “can we plan five years without a loan?” There’s a winning simplicity and honesty to the music th’sheridans make, it seems almost old fashioned in that sense; at a time when everything is loud and frenetic, they offer quiet contemplation, a moment away from the churn, a chance to remember it doesn’t always have to be quite so dramatic.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are th’sheridans?
th’sheridans are Julia Oh, a nice (which is to say white) Swiss lady from the mountains, and Adam Karenina Sherif, a salty black British man (you can call him “mixed race” if you want some serious side-eye) from the suburbs. The recurring themes in our work are small towns, food, and radical softness as a response to everyday sexism and racism.
The main influences from which we yoink are the ‘70s CBGB scene in New York, folk punks like Beth Orton and Bright Eyes, and the riot grrrl movement from the ‘90s. Many of the string arrangements also draw on Klezmer music. We describe the overall thing as incongru-pop.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
It was during school lunch break. It was not especially well-attended, but a good time was had by all.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
It’s just what we’re called to do, and we have a natural propensity to produce what are colloquially known as bangers, hits and bops. Increasingly, we’re working out that pop music is an amazing avenue for critical content.
There’s also something of an urgency to being a woman and a person of colour producing music that is typically considered the domain of white cis guys with guitars. Like, in a sense we have to do this to see ourselves represented. The structural overlooking we’ve had to square with is really tiresome, so we can only hope that as other bands come up, values will change and the landscape might be a little more even for folx at any and all intersections.
FTR: What can people expect from a th’sheridans live show?
Old guitars, older violas, car boot sale drum machines and sassy high kicks straight out of the Carrie Brownstein playbook.
FTR: What’s next for th’sheridans?
As a DIY band, we put projects in motion as and when we are able to. Currently, we have a video concept in the works, which deals with how people our age and younger may never be able to own their own home. We have a couple of singles due out over the coming months, including a track for an anti-fascist Brazilian compilation. And lastly, we’re hoping that in the year of our lord 2k19 we’ll be granted some decent festival billing: fingies crossed!
They Listen To…
1. Suicide – Ghost Rider
The ‘70s CBGB punk scene is a really central influence for us. We learnt how to write choruses from the Ramones. But Suicide are also low-key essential. They’re a band of two, with exclusively electronic instruments and they are excessively abrasive in both sound and attitude. 100% punk, and a great reminder alongside Lou Reed, Richard Hell, Lenny Kaye and Joey Ramone – of New York punk’s Jewish origins.
2. Bratmobile – Do You Like Me Like That?
Like X-Ray Spex before them, OG riot grrrls Bratmobile connect their critiques of misogyny and patriarchy to consumerist capitalism. With a ‘60s surf style, this track deals with issues of gentrification and profiteering in Washington DC housing, and that juxtaposition of catchy hooks with critical content is something we’re always aspiring to.
3. Conor Oberst – Artifact #1
Both Bright Eyes and Conor Oberst’s solo records have been a massive inspiration. From his poetic and increasingly political lyrics, melancholic melodies, idiosyncratic vocal phrasing and ever-amusing ways of brandishing guitars on-stage, we always seem to turn up threads of his art in our own music, especially our acoustic work. This song’s beautiful in its vulnerability of heart-wrenching words, longing melodies and dreamy guitars.
4. Diana Ross – The Boss
Diana Ross schools us all, always and for all time – with both her music and her style. Her message here is that any attempts to manage emotions in a calculated way are truly a nonsense. Ross pays tribute to supernatural intuition and innate truths, welcoming love itself as ‘the boss’ – which is a rather Big Mood®. Included also because pop music rules.
5. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Two Gunslingers
Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Nick Cave, Tom Waits – most of the Big Singer-Songwriter Lads who comprise the standard rock canon are also inescapably major influences. We do a soft & saucy Springsteen cover when we play live. It is what it is. This track’s simple and easy-going, but it sees TP deconstructing myths and placing some emphasis on resisting unhealthy patterns of behaviour.
Architecture is out now. Click HERE for more information on th’sheridans.