The slinky, mysterious, cinematic music of Midnight Sister is brought to you by the isolating landscape of the San Fernando Valley — its colors, its diners, its lunatics, its neon lights. The duo of Juliana Giraffe and Ari Balouzian, lifelong residents of this storied valley, have only become more inspired by the area’s mythology over the years, its two-faced magical wonderland and tragic circus.
Giraffe, 23, daughter of an LA disc jockey, was raised almost exclusively on disco and David Bowie. Her lyrics and lyrical melodies were composed gazing out from a tiny retail window on Sunset Boulevard. Her Rear Window-like longing allowed her imagination to run wild and cook up the wild narratives that would fill Balouzian’s compositions. Balouzian, 27, classically trained and already a go-to arranger for odd-pop names like Tobias Jesso Jr. and Alex Izenberg, is inspired by the immersive, almost visual language of Stravinsky and Ravel as much as the cinematic jeu d’esprit of Altman’s Brewster McCloud and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love — not to mention the beats of Madlib and Dilla. Their shared musical vision of LA is the ominous alley you must enter to have the stragespeakeasy night of your life.
Our first listen and look into their askewniverse is “Leave You” (Directed by Juilana and Nicky Giraffe). It’s lithe, Jon Brion-meets-Broadcast arrangements are countered with striking visuals and a bold palette that, taken together, might be an experimental theater’s stage adaptation of a William Eggleston photograph. And this is is just the tip of this strange iceberg. Having performed with artists like Julia Holter, Future Islands and Alex Cameron over the last few months, Valley dwellers in the know have just begun to take account of this alluring new talent in their midst.