the mittenstrings
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the mittenstrings

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | SELF

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | SELF
Band Folk Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Music Review: Martha Wainwright"

The Mittenstrings, a trio who combine ethereal, saturated harmonies with a drop of acid, open for Wainwright. (Their setting of William Blake’s haunting “The Garden of Love” is not to be missed.) - GO magazine

"views of montreal"

syl and i have been singing together for a long time. we grew up singing with our family. i think we even did a tv show at 5 and 6 years old when our mom and aunt did a song for a benefit record (titled “Feed The Folk,” for the 1984 famine in ethiopia).

however, we’ve really only been playing together as a band for the last couple of years when our mittenstrings’ odyssey started. being filmed for la blogotheque was a first for us. we’ve never done our music on camera before so it was a little nerve wracking. maybe out of fear and shyness we asked you to come and film at our house which made it a lot easier for us! having been ignorant of la blogotheque until nora and vincent walked through our door, in the end it turned out to be a very fun and entertaining time. vincent moved effortlessly around the room, filming as we played, and it was possible to forget we were being recorded at all. if asked to play for blogoteque again, we would.

- la blogotheque

"martha wainwright sang Piaf at le poisson rouge"

Opening for the show were the Mittenstrings which incidentally is partially made up of Martha's two cousins (Anna McGarrigle is their mother) and their friend. - brooklynVegan

"Wainwright cousins make musical debut in animated 'sitcom'"

Two members of Canada's famous folk clan have launched their singing careers as the Mittenstrings, characters in an online stop-motion series

by Sean Michaels

Friday 16 January 2009 11.17 GMT

Lily and Sylvan Lanken – cousins of Rufus and Martha Wainwright, the children of folk legend Anna McGarrigle – have made their musical debut ... as handmade paper cut-outs.

The Mittenstrings, the Lankens' mysterious multimedia project, launched online last week, revealing an eight-episode "sitcom" about a fictional band – with real songs. It's a charming, stop-motion wonderland, with elaborate hand-painted sets, characters and flying tour buses.

The music, though lo-fi, offers the same melodic knack that the rest of the family is known for. But whereas Rufus and Martha Wainwright are often caustic and sour, the Mittenstrings' music is wistful and gentle, evoking frosted-over windows, Kathryn Williams and indeed the McGarrigle sisters.

The episodes display a sharp sense of humour with bone-dry jokes and a healthy appreciation for the absurd. Mouth-trumpet muzak plays during a short stint in a lift, while Anna McGarrigle has a cameos as a crone at a radio station. Rufus and Martha are thanked in the final credits.

Though the Mittenstrings have played a handful of gigs, they have largely kept their identities secret, masquerading under their characters' names, Raelene, Lance and Chess. In a different incarnation, Lily Lanken is a member of Martha Wainwright's touring band and both siblings have made frequent appearances with their mother and aunt, including the recent McGarrigle Christmas Hour concert at Carnegie Hall. -


"5 Songs" ep released Fall 2010.
"The Mittenstrings," 10-song disc released December 2008.
All songs available on iTunes.



Lily Lanken and her brother Sylvan Lanken formed The Mittenstrings in April, 2007 in Montréal. The band started with three fictitious members: Raelene, Chess and Lance, all hand-painted foamcore cut-out characters for a video project. Along with writing the story-line and shooting seven episodes of this video, Lily and Sylvan wrote and recorded the songs for the two-dimensional band. In fact, Lil and Syl had so much fun doing the music part that they took the songs to the real world, playing their very first show in October of 2008 during Pop Montreal. Since then, they have played many shows in Montreal, spent a month touring in Europe with their cousin Martha Wainwright in 2008, played Carnegie Hall for the third time as part of the McGarrigle Family and Friends Christmas show in December of 2008 and just finished opening for Martha Wainwright in Quebec City, Montreal and New York in the fall of 2010. Lily and Sylvan live in Montreal and continue to write songs every day.