Deriving their name as a sort of tongue-in-cheek nod to the legendary Nile Rodgers — “C’est chi-chi! It’s Chic!” — NYC-based disco outfit Say She She features three accomplished, strong female lead vocalists: founding members Piya Malik, who has spent time in El Michels Affair, 79.5 and Chicano Batman; and Sabrina Cunningham; along with Nya Gazelle Brown, a former member of 79.5.
The rising New York-based outfit can trace their origins back to when Malik and Cunningham found themselves living in the studio apartments directly above and below each other. The pair would hear each other singing through the floorboards and quickly became friends. “I knew the girl below me had the most beautiful voice as I would hear her early in the morning and she would hear me late at night. Between the two of us I don’t think we got a wink of sleep. Then again I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say they moved to New York City to sleep,” Malik says in press notes.
After spending years singing in other people’s bands, Malik and Cunningham felt they were finally ready to step out into the spotlight with their own project. At first, they wrote tongue-in-cheek songs about bad boyfriends, band breakups and bad politics. But shortly after, they started writing much more serious and vulnerable tunes, like much-needed therapy sessions, detailing the lives of post-modern women. And as a result, their material frequently touches upon love, lust, sex, heartbreak, betrayal and hope.
A few years after they started the project, the duo recruited their close friend and Malik’s former 79.5 bandmate Nya Gazelle Brown to join them. At that point, the act’s core lineup was settled.
Sonically, Say She She’s sound nods at 70s girl groups — multi-part female harmonies paired paired with funky, disco-inspired arrangements played by a backing band featuring some of New York’s most talented and accomplished players, featuring former members of Antibalas, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaries, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, The Shacks, Twin Shadow and others. Locally, they’ve developed a reputation as a must-see live act, playing sold out shows at Bowery Ballroom, Nublu 151, Brooklyn Bazaar, C’Mon Everybody and Baby’s All Right among others.
Their eight-song, Sergio Rios-produced full-length debut Prism was released through Karma Chief Records last year. Recorded on old tape machines in the basement studios of friends, the album features guest spots from The Dap Kings‘ Joey Crispiano and Victor Axelrod, The Shacks’ Max Shrager, Chicano Batman’s Bardo Martinez, Antibalas‘ Superhuman Happiness‘ and Low Mentality’s Nikhil Yerawadekar, Twin Shadow’s Andy Bauer and NYMPH‘s Matty McDermot.
The acclaimed trio return with “C’est Si Bon,” a funky disco love letter, built around a sinuous bass line, twinkling keys, space lasers paired with the trio’s gorgeous harmonies, penchant for big, catchy hooks, deep groves and expansive psychedelia-tinged song structures. It’s a summertime club anthem that reminds the listener to seize the day and make their time count.
Directed by Lucas Hauchard and Valentin Duciel, the accompanying video for “C’est Si Bon” is fittingly a glittery, disco ball tribute to both disco and the world’s great fashion capitals with sections shot in Paris, New York and Los Angeles. And of course, the ladies of Say She She are wearing glittery outfits throughout.