“Dreamo”-pop, Chapel Hill-based Case Sensitive is Sierra Shell, Mary Koenig, and Chesley Kalnen, and they come bearing spider webs and sparkle – pretty perfect for Friday the 13th. Or, you know, Saturday the 14th, when you can catch them at The Cave at 9:15pm. The spooky, synthy trio answered a few questions about their music and inspiration, the myth of the “real musician,” and helping Manifest break up male-centered music scenes.
Where are you from? Where are you now?
We’re from a range of places across North Carolina (Asheville, Wilmington, central NC) and all met while living in Chapel Hill and started playing music together there. We’re a little more spread out over the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) area now, but we practice in Chapel Hill.
Tell me about the music you make.
It’s super collaborative! We write most of our lyrics together and make hard musical (and life) decisions together. It feels really amazing to be in a band that is so supportive and sweet. Our songs have spooky vibes and heavy weight with pop tendencies. Lyrics are dreamy and emotional (we considered claiming “dreamo” as a genre at one point, ha). Eerie and ethereal. Spider webs and sparkle.
How did you hear about Manifest?
Being part of the Chapel Hill music community and through Sarah and Erika, and watching all of the hard work they’ve put into the fest! A year ago, we were just starting to play together as Case Sensitive, and seeing the wealth of badassery and incredible representation in spaces likes Manifest really encouraged us to embrace DIY music and ourselves.
Why is this festival important?
Seeing someone who looks like you, holding space, and doing something you never thought you could do because it didn’t seem accessible — that’s important. It’s breaking up male-centered music scenes. It’s conversations about race and gender and ability. It’s building community. It’s creating a safe space for artists and audiences alike to challenge themselves and explore their creativity. Manifest is powerful.
What are your hopes for your music?
We’re growing into this community of femme and queer bands, and want to be a part of the movement bringing these amazing artists and creatives to the forefront. We hope our music and what we represent undermines expertise and the idea that only certain people are allowed to call themselves “Musicians” (usually cisgender men). We also love telling other people about how we collaborate and share so much with each other during our songwriting process, and hope other folks will be more tender with themselves and their bandmates.
Who inspires you? Why?
We’re in awe of each other, and our local creative community. Everyone here is doing something so cool and so unique that exposes a bit of their core and that’s incredibly rad to witness. Our range of musical influences includes: Marina and the Diamonds, FKA Twigs, Nina Simone, St. Vincent, Esperanza Spalding, Marilyn Monroe + her diaries, Ana Tijoux, Neko Case, and Zola Jesus. And all the storytellers behind our favorite ghost stories. And a special shout-out to Girls Rock NC for fostering creativity and collaboration through music for girls, gnc, and trans youth.
Any Southern women or non-binary artists we should already be listening to?
Big fans of some of the music happening here in central NC: Azul Zapata of Fluorescence, ZenSoFly, Space Holder, S.E. Ward, Rebekah Todd, Rachel Kiel, BRUXES, and Kate Rhudy. We have major crushes on Manifest bands Cosmic Punk and Mature Fantasy.