Sisters Ella, Mimi, Keiko and bo-Pah make up The Sledge Grits, a band poised to own the rock-pop stratosphere with visuals to their second single, “Forever.”
Released Friday (May 5), the aforementioned track features production from Hyuk Shin (Justin Bieber, Girls’ Generation, Exo) with Mimi, 17, providing cheery and dynamic vocals that will surely brighten your girl-power playlist. The video has a sharp focus on the Sledge sisters who’s bond is just as powerful as their musical abilities. Based in Los Angeles, the creatives find peace and love through their music while paying homage to their Floridian roots –”Grits” is an acronym for “Girls Raised in the Sun.”
The girls might be new to the masses, but they’ve managed to win over the ears of music’s most elite like Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child and Grammy-winning producer Jermaine Dupri. With Ella on the bass, Keiko on the guitar and bo-Pah on the drums, Mimi’s harmonies on “Forever” show us there’s plenty to come from the talented band.
VIBE had to chance to chat with talented siblings where they shared their inspirations and why “sisterhood is forever.”
VIBE: What went into the creative process for “Forever”?
Mimi: My sister Keiko and I went into the recording studio and she collaborated with Tony Arena to write “Forever.” The next step in the process was I went in and recorded the song with Shin and we had a really good time. It took me a few hours to lay the vocals and the producer was good about trying to make everything sound perfect.
What does your bond with your older sisters tell you about womanhood? “Am What I Am” is such a powerful jam.
My sisters and I luckily are very close. Our sisterhood has shown me how to always support and empower other girls no matter what—especially girls in music—and they’ve shown me how to be a strong woman as I grow up. “Am What I Am” is a song with a lot of energy and a strong message, and of course you have to keep that in mind while recording it or it won’t come through as authentic. I tried to have fun with it and I always think about the words of the song while I sing. I think that’s very important.
When you think of family, what do you see?
Ella: When I think of family, I see our Saturday night family nights. All of us huddled in the living room, talking, laughing, squabbling over what movie to watch. I think of long car rides with random comments and uncontrollable laughter. I think of long conversations and talking about everything and anything. I’m lucky enough to have quality family time every single day. It’s one of the many benefits of being in a band with my sisters.
What are some underrated bass lines you love?
“La Villa Strangiato” by Rush. I think “YYZ” gets so much attention, and that song is crazy amazing, but I think “La Villa Strangiato” also has an intricate fast paced amazing bass line that deserves recognition. I also like the bass line for “Cult of Personality.” It’s a punchy bass line that’s super fun to play. And I think it resonates with me because when I very first started playing bass, my dad showed it to me as a song that maybe I could learn one day.
When you think of love, how do you feel?
When I think of love I feel content with my life. I know that whatever I do in life, whatever I accomplish or don’t accomplish I already have the most important thing. Really the only thing that matters to me. I always have that soft place to fall. I’ve never had to go a day in my life wondering if I was loved. And so I when I think of love, I also feel gratitude. That I’ve been blessed with such amazing people in my life. That God granted me these parents and sisters that love me so fiercely and who I love equally.
What do you enjoy the best about working with your sisters?
Keiko: We know each other better than we know anyone else, because we are family. That close bond really helps us out on stage. We can give each other guidance with a small expression from across the room. We can tell what each other is thinking without having to say a word. We live together, so we know what each sisters schedule is like and we can old each other more accountable. Our parents raised us to get along and work through our issues, and so we are not only tight knit as a family, but as best friends and band mates!
Have you all always been natural or did you guys decide to do that together?
We are lucky to be raised by parents who taught us to embrace our individuality and express ourselves however we would like to in the moment. Mimi and bo-Pah have been natural their entire lives, whereas Ella and I have been very experimental with our hair throughout the years. Style and beauty, along with music, are all ways we try to express ourselves as girls and as artists.
How does it feel to be a woman playing such a dominant instrument in music?
Honestly, it feels amazing. Unfortunately, people still think that being in a band is a boys game, but I love being underestimated and surprising people. I hope that I can inspire other women and young girls to pick up a guitar. Whatever level you play at, the guitar is an amazing way to express your emotions. I always say music is the cheapest form of therapy, [laughs].
What do you like the most about drumming?
bo-Pah: What I like most about drumming is that is that I can express my self through playing. Like, I love playing fast tempo songs were I can really rock out when I have a lot of energy (because I always do), but also when I’m feeling a bit chill, I like taking the beat down and jamming to something slow and steady. That way I can really feel to beat.
What drummer has inspired you the most?
The drummer that inspired me the most when I was younger was probably Cindy Blackman Santana. When I was seven my Daddy, a family friend and I went to my first jazz show and and Cindy Blackman was playing. I thought it was the coolest thing that she could read her drum music as she played, and she kind of looked like me! So I started watching her on YouTube and she became my role model.
The band is currently prepping for their performance at SoFar Sounds in San Diego May 13 and will also be apart of the “I’m That Girl” Summer Retreat. Find out more info here.