Nothing's gonna break them down
When Annie Siriopoulos decided to have her birthday party at a recording studio four years ago, she couldn’t have imagined what the moment would do for her future. Annie and her sister Celia were doing what seemed natural to them — singing. After the owner of the studio heard them, he would later refer them to Canadian Idol’s Zack Werner.
“He really changed our lives,” Annie says.
The girls, now 12 and 14, could not have imagined that the moment would launch their singing career.
The sisters make up CAArdia, the Greek word for “heart” but also the initials of Celia, Annie and their younger sister, Aryanna.
With two generations of women sitting around the Siriopoulos family table, neither the girls, nor their mom and manager Lisa, can believe their star-crossed luck but are humble for how far they have come.
Of course, by living in the same house, there is never a time when they are not creating. Collaborating vocally and creatively is intuitive for the up-and-comers.
“One time she started singing the exact same song at the exact same time as I did but we didn’t even plan it — we have this connection,” Celia says. “My voice is lower. Hers is higher, so it just works.”
While working with Werner as their vocal coach, CAArdia won the York Region Celebration of the Arts award in 2015 and started gaining recognition, playing at festivals and Canadian Music Week.
Currently working on their first EP, CAArdia’s music evolves with them. The organic nature of their songs initiates conversations about issues youth face, all from the sisters’ experience and thoughts on society.
The girls want to send a positive message about self-esteem to help others affected by bullying.
Their original anti-bullying song, “No Breakdowns,” which opened many opportunities for the group, including a spot on CP24 Breakfast, comes from a hard year at school for both girls — who eventually had to change schools. Annie remembers not telling her mother at first, because she was scared. The song opens the conversation for youth to know that it is OK to speak out. Both girls sat down with their songwriter Ryan Guay and talked about their frustrations.
“When we first started out, we got so much hate comments like ‘you can’t do this,’ ‘it’s gonna fade,’ Annie says.
“We speak about body image and we had a girl tell us that we helped her,” Celia said. “Getting that comment really makes me happy and it’s just good to know that we are achieving what we want to do.”
While their popularity grows, they digest both positive and negative comments.
“We just want the truth,” Annie said. “We need this other feedback to help us build and learn for the future. It’s not a bad thing — it’s just something that will help us grow as musicians.”
“Our mom has always been there and with every negative comment she’ll tell us the real meaning behind it — I’m so thankful for you telling me,” Celia said, turning to her mother.
Having young girls in the business, Lisa says that she’s “afraid of the Harvey Weinsteins of the world.” What concerns her, first and foremost as a mother, is how the industry’s message to girls is elevated with social media.
“There is so much superficiality and a lot of sex out there that starts from Grade 7. Instead of empowering females, I see females going backwards. I see women are subjecting themselves to men more than they ever have.”
She mentions that despite this, a conscious change in music comes from artists with a positive message and from people speaking up.
Michelle Newman, who has sung with musicians such as Tina Turner and The Blacked Eyed Peas, is currently CAArdia’s vocal coach and primarily works with female talent.
In terms of the challenges young girls face, Newman says social media is definitely a factor.
“That feeling that girls need to be perfect and airbrushed and constantly dressed the part...everything is being pushed by social media,” Newman said. While this doesn’t just pertain to the music industry, she says that image of perfection is where we lose authenticity.
CAArdia will challenge just that. One of their new original songs, “Deep End,” is about the dependence on cell phones and “the alternative reality we live in,” Lisa says. “There is a small number of people who can be heard. We want to be the artists that will make a difference and we are writing for a purpose,” Celia said.
“We can make the world a better place with our music,” added Annie, who’s inspired by artists like Brampton-born Alessia Cara, who “stands up for what she believes in –– that’s something that really spoke to me.”
Newman notices that Canada has gifted many strong female singers to the industry, where “somebody who is a little different is going to shine and is going to be the next phase of the music industry. We crave that.”
For CAArdia, one thing is for sure — nothing is going to break them down.