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Sister Swire and Joel Plaskett Have A Text Conversation

On the heels of her latest self-titled album, Sarah Swire and producer-songwriter Joel Plaskett look back on their time spent in the studio together.


Photo Illustration by Michelle Cavaleri

Sister Swire – the musical alias of Sarah Swire, who has been making waves in a variety of artistic disciplines including as an actress appearing on shows like The Boys and a choreographer for the zombie movie-musical Anna and the Apocalypse – couldn’t have picked a better producer for the set of tracks that became her self-titled debut album. Linking up with the Nova Scotian alt-rock royalty that is Joel Plaskett, the two create a world of crunchy acoustic chords, shuffling tempos and even the odd twangy moment, all serving to accommodate Swire’s punctuating vocals and her equally incisive and often darkly humorous lyrical content.

Tackling issues like her struggles with addiction and finding her way through the world as a neurodivergent person, the project is deeply personal and immerses listeners into the mind of a truly unique creative force.

Reading Swire’s unfiltered text messages below, in conversation with her iconic producer, should give you an idea of just what kind of mind would come up with the narratives on display on Sister Swire – complete with random capitalization and transcribed maniacal laughter. 

Joel: I’m excited for people to hear your rocking record. What’s your favourite track and why?

Right now a couple of my favourite moments are when you say “maaannnnifesssstaaaation” and that junk band bit in Rosey when we recorded Dave’s Folgers coffee can and the weird vocals through the school announcement mic and my pedal board. It sounds kinda like blotto.

Sarah: Good SIR. What we recorded went way beyond what I could’ve imagined, and a lot of that is down to the MuSeUm of instruments & toys that make up Fangs kinda… sonic thumbprint. 

I still can’t believe I Shot The President was the first and only take. And your bass in She’s Screaming makes my brain sweat. 

Joel: Perhaps you should have sung a little of Danke Schoen in I Shot the President. Try it out tonight! 😉 When I was 14 my friend Albert taught me how to do Cameron’s drip sounds knowing it would appear in “Fashionable People” 17 years later. 

Sarah: Also the album just dropped 😎

Joel: I know! 🎶⚡ I’m writing a post right now to share with folks. Do you have the album art image you can send me?


It is a spell. A prayer. As drawn and consecrated by The Invincible Essery Waller aka sloanhotdog

Joel: Wow! Love it. 

I wish I could be there in Toronto tonight. Have a stellar show. Send clips if you get some!

Sarah: Okay okay 2 questions: 1) What’s the weirdest (and by weird I mean uncanny/coincidental) happenstance you’ve had recording songs or albums 2) What’s the strangest experience you’ve had with a stranger

Joel: To answer your questions : I think Matthew Grimson made an appearance in the live recording on 44 of the songs I wrote in the wake of his passing. At about 3:30 into the song as I’m singing his name there was this ghosty whistle like the wind. That’s Matthew.

I also sometimes get the feeling when I’m at the studio at day’s end that I’m not alone. Not really a ghostly presence, more like the space is soaking in the energy from the music being made there. It’s a good feeling that increases with time. Cork walls singing Sister Swire.

Not the strangest experience with a stranger but the most recent – yesterday I had to talk a dishevelled skateboarder down from the tree he climbed at the end of our driveway. He was up really high and could climb impressively but it was making me nervous as he was relatively close to the power lines that weave through a couple branches. He also said he climbed it because he hurt his knee skateboarding which didn’t exactly make sense to me but I may have been on a different wavelength. While I’m glad he got down and didn’t hurt himself in the process, I will admit to being a bit jealous. It’s been ages since I’ve been in a tree.

Sarah: I think Grimson a lot. His lyrics scooter the axis’ of peculiar/painful…..fearful/fearless. Or how to become a muse to (and ride the sublime) in your paranoias.

Perhaps that’s cause you sent me Prize For Writing when we first started chatting about recording. But also like, you know, I may or may not have picked his cassette off your 44 shrine one evening and got kinda dizzy, back when Essery Waller and I had first come to Dartmouth to meet you. And then next day you pulled his guitar off your shelf, said, “This is Matthew Grimson”, plugged him into the Mel9 pedal and made I Shot The President a collaboration between me, you and his haunted orchestra. I feel truly blessed that he’s on the record. I feel deeply honoured that he’s the finale.

Joel: Did you get the grant to go the Fringe in Edinburgh?

Sarah: Oh aye – the band and I are doing a 2 week intensive rehearsal & development then taking a rock opera version of the show to Scotland LOL

I’m writing it over the next few months. The music will take up the bulk of it, it’s just mostly figuring out how to tastefully (or idk maybe trash is good) play 2 people in one body. 

Joel: Excellent! It’ll be great. In the song Even Trolls Love Rock & Roll by Tony White he tells the story of encountering a troll beneath a bridge on his way to a gig and he plays both the troll and himself. Even Swires like Needle Nose Pliers? 

Love Essery’s artwork and photos for the record and excited to see it on vinyl. Between her your great band you have some great collaborators. Excited to see you all in full flight when you make it to Dartmouth. 

Sarah: They’re my hero’s. Essery art breaks my brain. Cameron’s riffs are TOO tasty, and you of all people know how special it is to be still creating art with your childhood best friends. Nick’s bass is BONKERS (and so is his immaculate sense of humour), and Lawrence Libor might be the most talented person I’ve ever met. I will NEVER. STOP. TALKING. ABOUT LAWRENCE.

Joel: Good crew indeed. You folks have a lot of energy together and it was fun to be around it. Lawrence a good piano player too! Must be those dancing chops. 🕺