Photo by Cara Robbins
The transition from back-up to center-of-attention can sometimes be a tough one–not so in Sandra Vu’s case. She’s a singer, drummer and multi-instrumentalist who’s played with The Raveonettes, Boredoms, Dirty Beaches. Vu’s probably best known for walloping the skins for The Dum Dum Girls, but with her own band SISU, she takes center-stage.
The Dum Dum Girls may be her day-job, but don’t call SISU a side-project. She’s been working on it for a while now. The roots of SISU go back to her former band Midnight Movies. “We were signed to a small label and we were on track to ‘go big,’ but it never happened,” said Vu in a May 2012 interview with the San Francisco Bay Guardian. When Midnight Movies fizzled, Vu was a bit at a loss on what to do next. So she started writing songs, and taught herself to do a little bedroom recording. She also recruited former Midnight Movies bandmate Ryan Wood, whom Vu described in the same interview as “pretty much the other half of the SISU brain.” Joining Vu and Wood today are drummer Nathanael Keefer and (for live shows) her Dum Dum Girls bandmate Julianna Medeiros on keys and synths. They’ve opened up for Cat Power, DIIV, Marnie Stern, Metronomy, and, of course, The Dum Dum Girls–and Vu pulled double-duty for those shows.
SISU has a few records to their name including the D.I.Y. the two part EP series Demon Tapes. Back in April SISU issued the Light Eyes EP. Today’s a big day for the band, because not only are they going to be in Austin to play a show at The Mohawk, but their first full-length record Blood Tears hits stores as well. It’s only the second release from MONO PRISM, a collective for musicians, filmmakers and visual artists. “Blood Tears is about the anxiety of starting over, the hangover of failure, breaking up, insecurities, self-doubt, finding a voice, finding that you have a voice, speaking up, and singing louder,” said Vu in a February 2013 interview with the Santa Barbara Independent. She’s certainly found her voice on SISU’s latest single “Harpoons.” Vu sings with Siouxsie Sioux theatrics in front of a big, aggressive wall of sound. It’s sometimes a hard road from back-line to front-and-center, but for Sandra Vu, it seems effortless.