(Banner Photo: Matthew Attard)
Cryptic Street is a four piece musical riot hailing from Malta. Nestled between Sicily and the North African coast, the islands make up one of the world’s smallest countries. Made up of friends Leona (lead/vox), Leanne (bass), Janelle (lead guitar), and Michelle (drums), the quartet is a ball of post-punk energy. Being from such a small place, Malta has a dynamic underground music scene. Self-described as a “DIY” band, the four handle all aspects of their band’s direction and rely on maintaining a dedicated fan base at home. They might be from a tiny island, but the four make some big noise that reaches all around the globe. Tom Tom talked to Cryptic Street about DIY music and their upcoming plans.
Tom Tom: Can you introduce yourselves? Names, ages, and respective instruments?
Cryptic Street: So we have Leona a.k.a Leoniña (21) as the main vocalist and front chick, Janelle a.k.a Janju (21) on lead guitar, Leanne a.k.a Thunder Lea (21) on bass, and Michelle a.k.a Mixa (16) on drums!
TTM: How did you meet and start making music?
CS: Leona and Janelle met during kindergarten. It has been quite a long time. During secondary school, we attended an all-girls’ school and for an English project we decided to start a band at 13. Initially, it was an excuse to order takeaway pizza, but then we ended up winning an award in Malta for the first single we released during that phase of the band. After winning that award we thought to ourselves, ‘Whoah! We can actually do this!’
When the other original members left in 2016, we decided to continue the band nonetheless. Leanne was a high school mate of Janelle’s and joined. We met Michelle online through a friend’s recommendation, and that’s how the current line-up came about! We legit thank the stars for meeting each other since it is so difficult to find committed individuals who share the same dream!
TTM: How would you describe your sound?
CS: A burst of punk attitude with a dash of psychedelia, inner conflict, and hell-raising fun.
TTM: Malta is one of the smallest countries in the world — what’s the music scene like there?
CS: Malta is really, really small! It’s got around 500,000 people total and its slam bam in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea! Surprisingly the underground scene in Malta is thriving. There’s music being produced spanning across the musical spectrum, and there are a ton of events all year round. We can safely say that all musicians in the scene know each other — that’s how small it is! It is kind of cool, but at the same time it can get a bit limiting especially if you want to develop internationally. Being an island doesn’t help either. You literally have to go that extra mile to tour internationally, by plane or else by the ferry to Sicily!
TTM: What’s the meaning of DIY, for you?
CS: DIY is our world at the moment. It’s also how Malta’s scene can be described. We literally take care of everything in this band. It’s like our baby! Each member has a different skill set which we use, along with a little help from our talented friends since a lot of our friends are artists! From planning tours, admin, setting schedules, multitasking, and balancing our everyday jobs/school with the band, to organizing our own fundraisers, parties ( We DJ too!), meetings, photo shoots, video shoots — you name it, we probably do it!
TTM: What’s the significance of being in a DIY band for you?
CS: It is obviously a hell of a lot of work, sleepless nights, blood, sweat, and tears, and being so broke that you survive on coffee while on tour. It’s a cliché term, but it definitely is a rollercoaster ride! At the same time you have full artistic control over your brand and band, which is definitely artistically challenging and inspiring. Being a DIY band has helped us grow as individuals and as friends since you really have to work well in a team to do this. We would obviously like to have a cool label, management, and all the bells and whistles since it would push our vision forward. Most of the stuff we do is self-funded or crowd funded, so [having a label and management team] would definitely be amazing for us!
TTM: What have been some of the major milestones you’ve made as a band?
CS: Definitely this current line-up – our first DIY tour in Barcelona was definitely a milestone for Michelle — it was our first gig playing with her ever! Our End of Year Tour last year definitely tested us. We organized it all by ourselves and we managed to support bands such as PINS and Acids Mothers Temple. On the other hand, it made us experience the cut throat element of the music industry and made us push harder. Our recording sessions in July 2017 with producer David Vella (Rammstein, Siouxie and the Banshees) was definitely a highlight. He is an inspiration and a mentor for us. Those recording sessions resulted in our latest album Titty Monster, which we launched in March of 2018. You can listen to it online via all major distributors! Cause who doesn’t love tits, right?
TTM: What’s next — plans for the rest of the year and beyond?
CS: We are all dreamers so we try to push ourselves to the limit! Definitely pushing our album and singles as much as we can. We would really love to come over to the States. We have a minor obsession with Seattle, and hopefully we’ll push hard to make that dream a reality.
We will also be recording some new music towards the end of this year and continuing to develop our style and to be the best musicians we can be. We’re extremely ambitious as you can see. Most of all, we aim to continue being brave, bold, and colorful!
Psstttt, have you visited our web store? Check it out here for all your Tom Tom merch & print issue needs!