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December 11, 2019

Interview Sylvaine

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Hm, I’m sure there is no any reason to tell you about this project, because Sylvanie become pretty known one, so after I have listened to her latest album, I got an interest to ask some questions I’d like to know about her activity, and, interview seems enough interesting and wide, so, just relax and enjoy!

Hi! Tell me about Sylvaine. Why did you decide to name the band with such title, maybe this is some part of your name? And what kind of ideas/inspirations do you explore?

– Hello there! Sylvaine is my solo project that I started about 3 years ago now, after feeling the need to make a more person project, where I could remain more hands on and in control of every aspect of the band. I had been playing in several bands for years, and at some point they always ended up going in a musical direction that I personal didn’t really feel and at the same time the level of ambition was never super high, so I figured I would try to make my own project, where I could decided everything on my own an really reach out for my dream of being a professional songwriter and musician. Makes me sound like a complete control freak, I know, but I really don’t regret making this decision. The name was something I came up with one day, deciding to merge the word “sylvan” (woodland/forest spirit) with the name of one of my favorite poets; Paul Verlaine. “Sylvaine” held the connection to nature that is so important in my life and it also held a connection to poetry, which has inspired me a lot thru the years, so it seemed to make sense. Later I discovered the word is also a French name and a butterfly type… Funny coincidences!  For the ideas I explore in my music, Sylvaine functions as an “audio diary” for me, like for many other artist, so the subjects that come out thru the music are usually conflicts or subjects residing within me, that I need to express in some way. Writing music is therapy for me in a way, letting me get all of my emotions out in stead of keeping them inside, allowing me to process them in a way. I have been speaking a lot about the feeling of profound longing for something, without knowing what or being able to reach it and the feeling of being lost and not finding your way back to shelter. “Wistful” also speaks a lot about the feeling of being trapped in this place, inside a human vessel, which is restricted by its senses, leaving one unable to go back home in a spiritual sense. Other than this, I also tend to be inspired by the dualities of life; happiness and melancholy, the outside world versus my inner world, nature vs. urbanity and so on.

“Wistful” album was released couple months ago. How does that make you feel? Do you feel you have put album into masses without any wishes to change something now?

– I think every artist will always find small things to improve in their past works, so of course, “Wistful” is no exception, yet I must say I am very proud of this album and what it became in the end. It perfectly captured what I was trying to convey. I’m so happy that people also seem to appreciate it and really couldn’t ask for better feedback than what I have gotten so far. Lots of nice reviews and beautiful words feel reassuring. It helps me feel that I actually created something valuable, which could make people feel something. That is all I ever wanted anyway.

Tell me more about “Wistful”? Album ideas etc…

“Wistful” is an album that holds extremely personal moments to me, conveying a heightened state of alienation, restriction, resignation and more. One of the main topic of the album is the feeling of not belonging to this place, being trapped inside a human vessel that is very restricted by it’s senses. As a result, you cannot connect to your home in a spiritual sense and feel a great loss over this. The compositional process of “Wistful” was way shorter than on my first album. All the songs were made in a matter of 6 months- 1 year, meaning they all relate to one another in a more natural way and make for a more consistent album. For the recording, I had the great pleasure of entering Drudenhaus Studios to record half of “Wistful” this time, as I only had the chance to use my university’s studio to record the first half of the record on my own. It was a very good experience though, to work with an engineer as talented as Benoît Roux, so I have the feeling I might try to head back there for the third opus! For the mixing and mastering of “Wistful”, I used the same team as on my first record, consisting of Nick Terry and Ray Staff at Air Mastering. Expression wise, I really wanted to make the difference between the serene and brutal even bigger on this album, something that made the album more atmospheric than on “Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart”. I really wanted the ethereal and ambient vibe to be more present on this album, but at the same time keep the natural aggression that came out when I was writing some of the tracks, which also gives the music a darker and harsher side than before. “Wistful” features a more atmospheric sound, yet it seems to hold a more organic touch than the first record. The production process of this album was more evident in a way, due to the fact that I had more experience when the process commenced, which made everything more enjoyable. I choose the title for the album based on the last track, which is also entitled “Wistful”. I felt this song really captured the soul of this album and also the essence of Sylvaine, expressing this immense feeling of homesickness and yearning for something else, without necessarily knowing what exactly. I guess that is why I also feel connected to this word, because of this profound feeling of not belonging and longing for something or somewhere else. This was one of the main topics spoken about on this album.

How do you like your cooperation with Season Of Mist records?

– Signing a record deal with Season of Mist was a big game changer for me. After releasing my first album on my own, I really wanted to make sure “Wistful” got the proper release I humbly thought it deserved, to reach as many people as possible. Last spring, when the album was finished recorded, I started contacting different labels to see if anyone would be interested in releasing the album. There were actually 5 different labels interested, but Season of Mist not only gave me the best offer, but they were also a label I had in mind for this collaboration from the beginning, as I really thought working with them would be a good choice for Sylvaine. I’m very happy with the choice and the cooperation I’ve had with them, as they are a very renowned and respected label in the business, which for me translates into a reach and a contact network I could only dream of having on my own. And to top it all off, the guys working at Season of Mist are great people, so I truly see myself as lucky to have the chance to work with them!

I so understood you have moved from Norway to the France?

– Well, not completely. I try to divide my time between the two places, as they both hold very important things to me. Paris is a beautiful city, that has so much to offer when it comes to culture, history, architecture, cuisine and more, while Oslo holds everything I grew up with, my family and friends and of course; nature. I miss nature a lot in Paris, so I’m not sure I would be able to spend all my time there.

How do you like to play on stage? What do you feel usually on the stage? And do you remember your first live performance ever? If so – was it so difficult for you to enter the stage in front of people to play for the first time ever?

– I have always loved being on stage, since I was a teenager. The energy and direct contact you get with people is just priceless. I do actually remember my first performance in front of people. It was a school concert (I was attending a music high school at the time) and I was just terrified, haha…. I was incredibly nervous, especially since I was completely shy about people hearing my voice and I was singing a song that wasn’t really my thing. Anyway, when I had been singing a few lines, I realized that everyone had stopped what they were doing and were giving their full attention to me on stage. It was quite amazing, this feeling of “giving” something to the audience, trying to make them feel something, to communicate with them. It took a few concerts to get comfortable, but I after that, I always found it liberating to be on stage.

Do you have some funny or sad story from your live performances?

– One funny/sad one that comes to mind would be the time I just had bought myself a nice TC Helicon VoiceTone Create XT vocal pedal and was using it on stage for the first time with my band back then. First song goes off, everything is going fine, we are feeling good and then all of a sudden; my pedal decides to turn on it’s autotune setting in the middle of the performance. My voice sounded like some kind of strange robot (you know, in that awkward Cher style) for quite a few seconds before I was able to turn it off… I was so embarrassed, especially since there were famous musicians in the audience that night (from Satyricon amongst others). The rest of the show went fine though, thankfully!

In your opinion, what is the best way to define Sylvaine’s sound?

– I tend to prefer letting people decide for themselves what the sound of my music is. I guess I would say the dualism between harsh and beautiful, light and dark, as well as ambient and groovy would be characteristics that pertain to Sylvaine. Ambient wall-of-sound landscapes, with catchy melodies and a few harsher parts could also be a way to describe it. I try to blend and balance elements from very different impulses, yet marry them together in a natural way for my music.

So, are you on hiatus now, just relaxed and looking for album feedbacks, or did you started to compose new stuff immediately?

– As my album has been released for a little while now and my press commitments are slowly calming down, I am taking this calmer time to write my third album. I still don’t know exactly what direction I’m heading in for the character of it, but I do have like 4-5 songs done already and tons of ideas to develop. I’m constantly working on something related to Sylvaine, to keep the ball rolling. I didn’t really stop working since 2013, before the release of my first album. I really don’t mind though, as I am super happy to do everything for my band.

IMG_6820 by Andy Julia

What are your main musical influences? How huge is their influence in your sound? And do you listen to some metal stuff as well?

I adore the whole shoegaze/dreampop scene, as well as the darkwave scene, the post-punk scene, and the more modern post-rock and post-metal scenes, with band such as Slowdive, The Chameleons, Explosions In The Sky, Sigur Ros, Alcest, Joy Division, Mono, Hammock, Cocteau Twins, Lycia and The Cure being some of my favorites. I also draw inspiration from classical music, with minimalism being one of my favorite directions. I was always very fascinated by the concept of taking the smallest pieces and evolving them slowly over time into something else. This is something I try to do in my music as well, to really create those hypnotic, meditative patterns that lull the listeners into some sort of trance. As for more metal influences, one of my favorite bands is Type O Negative, a band I draw a lot of inspiration from musically. I love the different expressions they convey in their songs and just admire their ability to create lush, layered, heavy atmospheres. I think you can also feel a small trace of black metal in some of my songs, especially when it comes to the atmosphere and certain elements, such as the screaming vocals, tremolo guitars, but also the sound choices of the different instruments. I really like a lot of the bands from this scene, like Ulver, Bathory, Emperor, Darkthrone, Burzum and so on.

Is there some well-known musician in particular that you would like to use in one of your upcoming albums?

– That’s a good question! As the songs aren’t all ready yet, I didn’t really start to think of guest artist yet. I prefer to only focus on making as good songs as I possibly can, as that is the most important thing anyway. It is always very exciting to work with other people though, having them bring their touch to your music, but for now I’m not sure whom I would ask. We’ll see what happens and if I feel the urge to bring in a guest or two for the next record.

Do you have any other hobby beside music? And what are you in the common life? Of course if music doesn’t allow you to survive playing music only.

– Music is pretty much what dominates my life most of the time, and it has been like that since I was about 14, but I also enjoy spending time in nature, taking long walks, watching movies, playing games (boards games and retro video games mostly), cooking, doing small arts and crafts projects, reading, traveling, hanging out with friends and family and so on. Being a musician is indeed my job right now, which I feel truly luck about. I get to spend my days doing what I love; I can’t ask for anything else! I also work freelance for Live Nation Norway sometimes when I am back in Oslo, which I have been doing for the past 9 years. It has given me a lot of great experiences, contacts and insight into how the music business works on a high level.

Are you all supported by your relatives towards your devotion to this kind of music?

– Oh yes, I’ve been very fortunate with my parents! Seeing as my father was a professional musician for over 30 years and my mother was working on the business side, in labels, as a journalist and for different promoters, they were not surprised that my life passion turned out to be music as well, haha. They have been so supportive thru my whole life… I couldn’t have done all of this without them. They are just the best!

Thank you for answering my questions, see ya on the road! Cheers!

– It was my pleasure, really! I hope your readers will enjoy this little insight into the Sylvaine realm and I can’t wait to see you all face to face when we hit the road next year! Have a great summer and see you soon!

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