There aren’t many occasions in which one is granted the chance to talk to a person who has inspired generations, or influenced and set a totally different way of seeing and hearing music. A person who educated the worldwide public and became a legend by doing so.
That’s why when the opportunity arose, we couldn’t but say YES to meeting and chatting with Ayalah Deborah Bentovim (aka. Sister Bliss) – the female member of the legendary Faithless.
Warm, very professional and with a huge smile on her face, Sister Bliss agreed to an interview in the backstage of the TimeShift festival, just before her set. Emotions were running wild, to say the least.
Radio DEEA: You’ve been in the business for over 20 years now. Looking back, how was the start with Faithless? Because so many things have changed and you certainly see things through a different perspective.
Sister Bliss: “Errmm, yeah the beginning was one of those things where being involved in the music scene I was buying records and I met a friend there, he knew a producer, I made a track together and it turns out the producer is Rollo! So, we start making more music together, I start playing keyboards and then the friend that I met in the record shop says: I met a Buddhist rapper. And we said: Well, that sounds cool!”
“So we made the track with a hip-hop section in the middle and said to my friend to get this Buddhist rapper guy down, get his number. And that was Maxi. So it was all these happy accidents. It was a long time in the future.” (she laughs)
Radio DEEA: Indeed, it was. Years have passed and the music industry is not the same anymore. What were your thoughts back then?
Sister Bliss: “It was a studio project, nobody could have foreseen it that is going to become a huge life-band …”
Radio DEEA: Did you aim for this?
Sister Bliss: “Nooo, we were just told that: Could you please do some gigs for us because nobody knows you have an album? We made our first album, some of the club scenes were aware and some DJs were playing these tracks, but many people didn’t know we had a whole album, that we went all over the place musically, some of it was hip-hop not just dance music, very ambient, acustic.”
“The first album was quite adventurous in that way and we made our first gig in London and then the German record company found that that we abandon it and said: – Hey come back to Germany! You don’t understand you record is like number 86 in the charts!!! And we were like: – That doesn’t sound very impressive! – No, no, no you don’t understand, this is really good news! This is like the biggest third market in the world.
And they said: – Can you come over and play? And by the time we went on tour the numbers went up and up and up until it reached number 2. It was a huge record!”
“And all the shows became bigger and bigger so we only played a few small gigs and suddenly we started playing to 1.000 to 5.000 people in Germany. It was just crazy! We had no idea we were going to accomplish so many great things.”
Radio DEEA: Back to the present time now. There is so much music on the market nowadays. How on earth do you get noticed especially if you are a young artist and you are just beginning?
Sister Bliss: “Well, I like to think that if it’s really good, the right people will notice, but I think you need to have another skill. It’s very important to be able to play live, to put your music out there, yourself in some way, also to be as active as you can on social networks … that’s really good, if you could get a residency somewhere … and to send your music to DJs, to promotion companies that will listen to it.”
“Because it’s almost like … the buzzwork right now is curation; there is so much music out there that people almost need to be told what to listen to, so if your track comes through a curation company, the bigger DJs will play your tracks and take you to bigger markets, put it on their radio show, DJs sets, you name it”
“There are so many different things that you need to do, but I guess not stop trying is the main thing, because it’s a very different world right now.”
Radio DEEA: Five years ago, you launched your own record Junkdog Record. How’s that going?
Sister Bliss: “It’s not going at the moment. It’s on a break at the moment because I am way too busy. I have loads of festivals and I have done a record label that I thought it’s going to do so many big things, but I am still waiting for the guys that signed up to give me a follow up. I even had a talented band from Bucharest, Romania but then they broke-up so everything is very unpredictable.”
“So right now, I am going to come back to it on the autumn and if I feel that is something that I am passionate and feel really strongly about, then I will carry on. But right now I am putting my own music there as well so I am really excited about. Got to focus on that, for now.”
Radio DEEA: There’s a certain song that says “This is a man’s world” and in this world of the DJs it’s easy to spot that probably 95% of them are male artists. Have you ever experienced any difficulties because you are a female artist or have you ever felt like they are promoted more?
Sister Bliss: “I think in the beginning it was a sense of “Oh, you can really do this” but I’ve been passionate about the music scene since I began, so once people have gone passed that it was OK.”
“There is a bit of sexism in the industry and it is a bit of a boys’ club, so you have to be really good, work hard you know? I do believe that there are female artists out there that deserve a bit more respect than they are getting. But it’s interesting to see that Mix Mag and other dance music publications are talking about them more, putting people out there…. promoters, or DJs. So maybe things are slowly changing for the better.”
Radio DEEA: What are you planning in the future? What is Sister Bliss going to do next?
Sister Bliss: “There are a few more Bliss records out there that I want to put out, my own tracks, and hopefully a new Faithless album … so watch this space.”
“We’re going to be working when the summer is finished, do some writing (actually I’ve done a lot of writing already), working with different collaborators, so I am very excited about it. I really hope it’s going to happen.”
So what else could we add with that last statement? We thanked Deborah for her time and we went on to enjoy the second part of our meeting with her – her performance on stage. Which was, as her name says it: pure BLISS!