Interview: Sylvan Esso


Sylvan Esso are a two piece electropop band from North Carolina, and a collaboration between Amelia Meath of Mountain Man and Nick Sanbourn, producer and member of Megafaun. qmunicate’s Clare Patterson chatted to them before their gig at Nice’n’Sleazy this month about working together, influences, and Glasgow.

I read that this started out as Amelia’s solo project, so how did it become a collaboration between the two of you?

Amelia: You know, it didn’t really, it was more… it was like, a meeting Nick thing, it was “Oh, we should make a band together.”

You had similar ideas, or?

A: Similar ideas, and we also just work together really well

Nick: Yeah, it was kind of a surprise, realising that we complement each other really well musically, and personality wise.

(To Amelia) So you started out in Mountain Man, (a folk a-Capella group) what inspired the change to this more electro pop music?

A: I guess I’d always wanted to make pop music, and um… the universe agreed, essentially. When Nick did the remix for Mountain Man which is the second-to-last track on our album “Play Right” it became obvious that the opportunity was here.

N: Also this is kind of just the natural kind of music that we make together.

I saw you supported tUnE-yArDs, how was that?

A: It was marvellous. She’s amazing

N: They were just… a really inspiring band to be able to watch every night. They’re so immediate and genuine and wonderful.

I’ve never seen them live before, I love the albums…

N: You’ve gotta go, it’s so good. If you like her records it really brings them off the page.

You said this was the music you just kind of organically made together but were they any influences, what did you listen to while you were making the album?

A: We listened to a lot of They Might Be Giants, a lot of Aaliyah, what else? Definitely anticon.

N: We got back into that second cLOUDDEAD record when we were doing this one

A: And all of the classic pop… things, you might have noticed there’s a whole bunch of references to 1950s pop on the record.

You get that kind of vibe actually, with songs like “Hey Mami”, the kind of chanting, backing vocals 50s stuff

A: Thank you! There are so many influences and most of them are based on the music that we a) listened to growing up and b) listened to while we were making the record.

So my last question before I go is, what do you think of Glasgow?

A: I think it’s wonderful. And all the humans seem to be really kind.

Yeah I just moved here a few weeks ago and I’m finding it really friendly

N: It’s just such a warm energy here, and… this is not knocking the rest of the UK, but that’s not something I automatically associate with the UK.

Yeah I understand that, like London’s pretty cold

N: Yeah, but there’s so many other things to love about London, that’s just not like the energy of London. But here, you’re here for like an hour and you already feel like you could ask someone on the street for a pound or something and they’d be like “yeah sure man!” It’s really just a great… yeah, it’s so wonderful.

[Clare Patterson]

Clare’s review of the band performing at Nice’N’Sleazy earlier this month can be found here.

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