On March 7, Boston will be graced with the King and Queen of “Biblegum Pop” as married, musical duo Alan Jay Sufrin and Miriam Brosseau, aka Stereo Sinai, hit the stage at Johnny D’s for an Electro Judeo Dance Party sponsored by The Network and The Boston Jewish Music Festival. But what exactly is “Biblegum Pop” music? We find out from the masters themselves in our Q&A.
Who is Stereo Sinai and how did you form?
Alan Jay Sufrin: Our lead singer is Miriam Brosseau, and I’m Alan Jay Sufrin, the band’s producer. We both compose the original music for Stereo Sinai; our lyrics are stolen from God, of course. We met in college at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where we were in a couple of bands together and played a bit locally there. Then we fell in love, got married, and moved to Chicago where we got involved in an awesome Jewish community.
You’ve described your sounds as “Biblegum pop”—can you please define that for us?
AJS: “Biblegum Pop” is a paradox – we’re trying to sell something truly authentic and something truly synthetic in one package. Our lyrics (with only a handful of exceptions) come straight from sources like the Talmud, the siddur, and most often from the Bible itself. That’s what “authentic” means to us. Then we lift them from the page and set them to really poppy melodies on synthetic, computerized instrumentation.
But “Biblegum Pop” extends to more than just our sound; it’s also our aesthetic. For example, Miriam’s stage persona wears a sheitl, which is a wig that traditional married women wear often as a head covering, and have done so since at least Talmudic times. (It also happens to be neon pink. Or blue. Or purple. Or green. Or orange. It depends on her mood and her outfit.)
What are some of your biggest influences—including anything musical, spiritual, or cultural?
Miriam Brosseau: Vocally my influences are Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, and Aretha Franklin (not that I’ll ever sound anything like her, but I love her).
AJS: My main musical influences are Michael Jackson, Prince, and the Beatles. Also, I could listen to Elvis, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and the early Ani DiFranco stuff all day long. I listened to a lot of disco and K-pop when producing the newest Stereo Sinai disc. Culturally, spiritually, I’m very into medieval Ashkenazi Jewish demonology and angelology right now.
Have you ever played Boston before? And what is it that you are MOST looking forward to about joining the BJMF this year?
AJS: We haven’t played Boston as “Stereo Sinai” before, and we’re really looking forward to playing at the BJMF this year! I’m such a huge fan of some of the names on this year’s bill: Daniel Kahn, Noah Lubin, Dan Nichols, I mean does it get any better? Yeah, it does – we get to share the stage with Mazal for their American debut – how cool is that?! I’m also super excited that our BJMF evening has been titled “The Electro Judeo Dance Party.”
If you guys could collaborate with any other musician or band, who would it be?
AJS: For me, it’s Prince. Period. We’re really lucky here though, because we’ve already shared stages with some of my favorites in Jewish music, and we even asked ourselves this question for our latest releases. I’m really proud of Stereo Sinai’s collaborative recordings with Matthue Roth, Jeremiah Lockwood, Alicia Jo Rabins, and Yuri Lane on our albums.
You very ambitiously released two albums in 2011. What can we expect to see from Stereo Sinai in 2013?
AJS: You can expect our most ambitious project yet! Miriam and I are expecting our first child in June. We’re excited, nervous, all the things I think most expecting parents feel, but also with an extra hope that the band can churn out a music video or two in addition to the stretch of shows we’re currently on. We’re also hoping to dive a little deeper more into the world of Jewish education than we have so far.
If you have any down time in Boston, what are you hoping to see/do here?
AJS: Gosh, there’s so much! The first thing, though, would be to make sure to have some chill time with my little brother, who’s a freshman in Cambridge. I’m also looking forward to trying out some kosher Boston restaurants and taking a nice long Shabbos walk around the city.
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