Sister Bliss is one of the true pioneers of modern dance music and the musical force behind multi-million selling ionic British band Faithless.
Each week Sister Bliss In Session showcases the worlds best new upfront electronic music, spinning world exclusives from her label Junkdog Records, a live DJ mix, A List artists and Djs on the phone, and a run down of the taste-making Cool Cuts Chart.
As one of the founding members of Faithless, Sister Bliss has become one of Britain’s most popular figures in the Electronica scene. With her proclaimed DJ sets and 15-year career as the musical drive behind Faithless, what many might not realise is her history as a musician and DJ before that point.
Sister Bliss started learning the piano at the age of five, moving on to violin, saxophone, flute and eventually the bass. A love affair with house music began in 1987, leading her to become one of the few female house DJs in Britain at the time. With appearances at the most popular clubs worldwide, she began to make her own records and had already released a number of her own compositions by the time she met fellow producer, Rollo. The two began to write and record together while she continued her solo career, and their collaborations eventually culminated in a new studio project – Faithless. Their frustrations with the perceived disposability of dance music led them to create a new sonic landscape mixing dance, hip-hop, blues, folk and classical music – a dramatic bed for the thoughtful lyrics of Buddhist rapper Maxi Jazz.
Faithless’ first eclectic album Reverence (released in 1996), was an underground sensation as the single ‘Insomnia’ started to climb steadily up the charts in Europe. The re-release of ‘Insomnia’ a year later changed all of that. It became one of the biggest club anthems of the decade and the album climbed to Gold Status in at least 22 countries.
The Mercury-nominated album Sunday 8pm followed, reflecting upon themes of alienation and lost love, and featured one of their favourite singers, Boy George. It also spawned the provocative hit ‘God is a DJ’. Sister Bliss continued DJing and releasing solo singles ‘Sister Sister’ and ‘Deliver Me’. In 2001 Faithless returned to the studio releasing the platinum selling album Outrospective. Their next album, the more politicised No Roots featured the incendiary anti-war single ‘Mass Destruction’ and went straight in at Number 1.
After four albums and ten years, Faithless decided to celebrate with the release of Forever Faithless – their Greatest hits collection which went to number 1 and has sold over 1.5 million copies in the UK alone.
While Faithless took a well earned break from touring, Sister Bliss wrote the music accompanying the three series TV drama Life Begins, featuring Bafta winner Caroline Quentin. She was also commissioned to compose an original work for the London Sinfonietta which was performed at the Fuse Festival, UK. Faithless’ fifth studio album To All New Arrivals followed in 2006, heralding the birth of her son, and featuring collaborations with Grammy award winner Cat Power, Dido and Robert Smith of The Cure.
Sister Bliss’ first work for theatre was Thea Sharrock’s highly successful production of The Emperor Jones at the National Theatre in 2007. In 2009 she was again invited to compose for the NT for Jatinder Verma’s production of The Black Album. She also wrote the title music for acclaimed British film, The Hide.
Whilst continuing her successful residencies at Ministry of Sound (London) and Pacha (Ibiza) and inspired by her global DJing schedule, Faithless released their most recent album The Dance in 2010 featuring artists, Dougy Mandagi (Temper Trap), Mia Maestro, and Blancmange – returning to their roots in club culture and dance music. After a summer full of acclaimed festivals sets including Glastonbury’s 40th anniversary, and a global tour ending in April 2011, their final show was broadcast live to thousands of fans in cinemas across Europe. To date, Faithless have sold in excess of 15 million records globally and have played live to millions across the world.
This year, Sister Bliss has been touring with Faithless Sound System, a stripped-down version of the full act, whilst continuing her successful DJ residencies and playing across the international club and festival circuit. Together with Rollo Armstrong, she has just collaborated with Example on his number-one album Playing In The Shadows. She has just finished writing the score for the film Knife Fight starring Rob Lowe, and directed by 2 times Oscar winner, Bill Guttentag.
Ayalah Deborah Bentovim (born 30 December 1971), better known by her stage name Sister Bliss, is an English keyboardist, record producer, DJ, composer and songwriter. In the studio she is best known for her work with Rollo Armstrong, particularly as part of Faithless. In 1996 she teamed up with Faithless bandmate Rollo to successfully remix Moby‘s recording of “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver“. Moby was so pleased they were asked to remix another song – “Honey“.
Sister Bliss is the daughter of Arnon Bentovim. She started music at the age of five, when she learned how to play the piano. She eventually moved on to the violin, saxophone and then bass.
Sister Bliss formed Faithless in 1995 with Rollo, Jamie Catto and Maxi Jazz. Bliss constructed most of the music of Faithless herself electronically, but also played the piano, violin, saxophone and bass guitar. Various others have been members and collaborators over the years including Zoë Johnston and, frequently, Rollo’s sister Dido, who began her musical career providing backing vocals for the band. Faithless toured extensively, and while Rollo preferred to stay in the studio, Sister Bliss could be seen on stage with Maxi Jazz. Faithless enjoyed a 17-year career, that included 7 albums, including two number ones, and six top 10 singles. To date, Faithless have sold in excess of 15 million records worldwide and have played live to millions across the world.
She released a two-disc compilation entitled Headliners: 02 in 2001.
On 10 September 2006 she gave birth to a son named Nate. The track “Nate’s Tune” found on the Faithless album To All New Arrivals is dedicated to him. Later on, Faithless founded their own record label called Nate’s Tunes.
She released Nightmoves’ on 14 July 2008.
Following Faithless’ retirement from touring in April 2011, she has concentrated on different projects. She presents a weekly show on Muusic.FM Every Friday 11am-12pm.
Sister Bliss has collaborated with Dido, Boy George, Cat Power, Robert Smith (The Cure), The Temper Trap and Example amongst others. A gifted musician and composer, Sister Bliss has written music for film, TV and theatre. Credits include 2012ʼs film Knife Fight starring Rob Lowe, and directed by 2-times Oscar winner, Bill Guttentag, commissions for Sex & The City 2, Danny Boyleʼs The Beach, acclaimed British film The Hide, Crossing The Line and popular TV drama Life Begins. For theatre, Bliss has written music for The Black Album and The Emperor Jones at The National Theatre in London, as well as composing an original piece for the London Sinfonietta, which was performed at Fuse Festival, UK.
Inspired by her love for discovering new music through her radio show and DJ sets, 2013 will see Sister Bliss launch her own label: Junkdog Records. An outlet for signing new music she believes in, Junkdog already has a busy schedule of new artists and exclusive originals from the lady herself.
The ‘Faithless Sound System’ – a stripped down live act featuring a live PA from Maxi Jazz, DJ set from Bliss and percussion – has appeared at a number of festivals worldwide since the full Faithless band’s split. The sets are typically one hour or less in duration.
She has occasionally appeared at medium-sized clubs in the UK in recent years, often as a headline DJ act playing sets of house music.
Junkdog Records is her current record label, which has released Sister Bliss solo singles, her remixing of others’ tracks and also independent artists.
On 31 May 2013, she reunited with Maxi Jazz for a Faithless live PA and DJ set at the Electric Brixton nightclub in London. The 1,500 capacity event was in aid of the youth academy for Crystal Palace football club. A similar arrangement of her DJing house tracks between Faithless songs featuring Maxi Jazz on live vocals, was performed at a festival in the United States in March of the same year. The Brixton Electric gig was repeated on 6 June 2014 and was described as an “annual fundraiser”, indicating that it will continue to be a once-yearly event.
She released the mid-tempo house track Dancing Home under the name of ‘Bliss’ in 2014. Featuring vocalist Janne Schra, it was remixed by the artists Tuff City Kids and Yoon.