The smell of sweet smoke lingers, and a flurry of long red hair whips past Alex White’s face as her voice pumps through speakers and her brother, Francis, loses himself in the rhythm of his drums. The sibling duo calls itself White Mystery, a rock ‘n’ roll band that emphasizes politics and themes
With original songs like “People Power” and “Respect Yourself,” the band’s music is reminiscent of the political songs of the ’60s and ’70s. The siblings listened to rock ‘n’ roll classics from Led Zeppelin and others growing up, which helped mold their political and artistic direction. They released their latest EP, “People Power,” April 20 and will be giving a New Year’s Eve performance at the Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Blvd. The band will tour Europe in January and February.
The Chronicle talked with White, 24, about performing with her brother, her politically charged lyrics and the state of female musicians in the industry.
The Chronicle: What do each of you bring to the table that allows you to work so well together?
Alex White: Our two different personalities complement each other and make it possible to be a functional sibling band. While we jammed together [previously], it wasn’t until White Mystery that it was a formal band and musical project. Two years ago, we went completely full time doing music. That’s what our days and nights are consumed by—rock ‘n’ roll.
Did you get along well while growing up?
Totally. People that we meet are sort of surprised by the nature of White Mystery being this brother/sister band, but it’s all we’ve ever known. As children, we played with toys, and as teens, we learned how to play music together. Now, we’re in our 20s and in White Mystery. It’s always felt normal to us.
It’s unusual to hear a sound like yours that is so authentic to bands of the ’60s and ’70s. Why is that?
At night, as I was falling asleep, I would have my radio under my pillow and listen to all the old Rolling Stones songs and The Monkees, everything that they were playing on what was then Oldies 104.3 FM. I think that there’s some oldies stations now, but oldies are like ’80s and ’90s songs now, where in the ’90s, it was ’60s and ’70s. I had a lot of exposure to that and our parents’ record collection—The Who, and Led Zeppelin and all these great vinyl records. It was very influential as a kid, and there’s so much energy in that music. You can be young and maybe not totally understand the lyrics, but you feel the energy of it.
How were you able to incorporate politics in your creative process?
The universal message, especially in the song “People Power,” is it’s not just girl power, like feminism. It’s not just boy power, like being a misogynist. It’s people power. Our songwriting has a lot to do with topics we tend to find to be more interesting than, let’s say, love songs. For us, we’re more interested in reaching out to people.
What are your thoughts on female rockers in the music industry today?
I like to think of myself as kind of a guy or a dude, [because] touring and stuff, you have to be pretty tough. It’s not an easy thing. A couple of years ago, I would have told you that it doesn’t make much of a difference whether you’re a man or woman in the music industry, [that] you get treated equally. But [now] I’ve seen a lot more of the politics in the music industry and how it impacts women. You hear about equal pay for men and women and how important that is, and a lot of times that bias does occur when female bands get paid less in some circumstances. But it is important to recognize women as equals in the music industry and not to take them for granted.
To hear their music, visit WhiteMysteryBand.com or us.Myspace.com/WhiteMysteryBand.