Circus Trees forge ahead for young women in music



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For every woman shredding, singing, or nailing her drum solo, there’s 10 pairs of eyes from young girls taking in all the musical glory from someone who looks like them.

Representation matters, and Gen Z is not only watching, they’re rising to the occasion.


Enter Circus Trees, a Marlborough-based band of three sisters, ages 12 to 16, who not only release their first single “Impermanence” this month, but also debut their documentary this Tuesday (April 3) at UnchARTed in Lowell. The film chronicles the sisters’ process of recording “Impermanence” at The Record Co. in Boston, with help from Carissa Johnson and Vanessa Silberman.

“We just kind of thought recording our first single was a special moment for us, and we wanted to share this moment with others — our family and friends, our fans, and anyone else who we thought could be inspired by our music and our passion,” the sisters say, collectively, via email.

The band — consisting of Finola (13) as the lead singer and songwriter, Giuliana (16) on drums, and Edmee (12) on keys and bass — has steeled themselves against the expectations (or lack thereof) that people may have for a group of three girls who can’t even vote yet. Yet, with or without judgement from their peers and audiences, they carry their own weight in emotional intelligence and maturity just fine.

“We kind of always expect that people aren’t really going to get what we’re doing or take us seriously because we’re just young girls,” the band adds. “We wouldn’t have even really started without other young female artists pushing us to be better, like the bands Evil Felipe and Flight of Fire, and artists like Madi Williams, and Alaina & Belle. Those artists inspired us to be better artists and to push our songwriting and our stage presence in another direction, something that tries to stand out and be different. Also, on the national stage, Julien Baker is like the one who literally inspired us to be a band. We try to see her every time she comes to the area, and we literally melt her vinyl we play them so much.”

“Impermanence” in particular carries with it the heaviness of adolescence and a keen eye turned towards spiritual and personal change.

“When I was writing the song, there is a part of myself that I didn’t like, and I didn’t want to have, and I realized I needed to change, and to throw this part of myself that I hated away — so the song is really about me wishing this part of myself would decay, so I could shed this away and move forward,” says Finola. “The line ‘bring me to death’ is really about bringing myself to death so I can be reborn, and move forward as the new me, and destroy that old part of me that I did not like.”

Robert McCarthy, the sisters’ father, manages the girls and his label Five By Two Records, and also books all-ages shows around New England. After adding Circus Trees to one of Carissa Johnson’s gigs, all four musicians quickly bonded, and Johnson and Silberman hopped on board for the band’s recording process.

“It was cool to be able to open a show for Carissa, and to meet Vanessa, who is this amazing and experienced producer and songwriter,” the sisters agree. “In the end, offstage, we talked to them and they gave us big hugs and told us how much they loved our performance, our emotion on stage, and it felt like we were totally connected.”

From the documentary, which appropriately screens at the all-ages Lowell venue and art gallery on Tuesday, the sisters hope to spur on other musicians — young women or otherwise — to chase their own endeavors, no matter their social stature or identity.

“We’d love to be considered an inspiration to others, to give others the confidence to write and to get on stage and to perform what’s in their hearts, and not just making music to be cool,” the sisters say. “We hope people will see it as just three normal girls making music, making our own path, and that they can see that anybody can do anything they want, regardless of who they are, where they are in life, what gender they are, or how old they are.”

CIRCUS TREES DOCUMENTARY PREMIERE :: Tuesday, April 3 at UnchARTed, 103 Market St. in Lowell, MA :: 6 p.m., all ages, free :: Facebook event page :: Featured image via Facebook