Sylvaine is a 23 year old musician based out of Oslo and Paris. Her music consist of ambient, wall-of-sound landscapes, with a focus on beautiful melodies, lingering guitar riffs and atmospheres, with a solid groove rooted in a more heavy style. Her debut solo album is due to be released next month. Tomatrax caught up with Sylvaine to talk about her music.
What inspired you to become a musician?
Ever since I was a child, I was surrounded by music. With parents and family that both worked in the music business and were musicians themselves, I was brought into that world from the very beginning. When I became a teenager, I realized that I could express emotions thru music that I couldn’t otherwise, which was very liberating. I began to write lyrics and experimenting on the piano, which was my instrument of choice for song writing back then. Since then it was never a question of what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I needed to make music and communicate it to be complete.
You’ve just completed your debut album, what’s it like to have it finished and ready for release?
It’s almost a bit surreal to me, to finally be at the point of releasing my first album. I must admit that I am very proud to finally hold the result of many years of work in my hands. Making this debut album has been one of the best things to happen in my life so far. I learned so much from this experience, and was lucky enough to work with some wonderful, talented people to complete it, among them mixing engineer Nick Terry, mastering engineer Ray Staff and digital artist Daria Endresen. It felt like a huge accomplishment, as I was able to prove to myself that I could take on a project of this size and actually come out on the other side with a result that sounded good.
You played all the instruments yourself, was this hard to do?
Of course it is a bit more challenging when more or less everything rests on your shoulders, but from the start I was determined to record this album on my own. I really enjoyed building up all the different layers in the music, based on each instruments character. And playing all the parts myself makes the album even more personal. That said, my father, who is a drummer, did an amazing job laying down most of the drum tracks on the album and was also there to help engineer when I needed him. Running back and forth from the vocal booth somehow didn’t seem like the most efficient way of doing things…
What made you decide to perform solo rather than in a band?
Thru many years I was playing in various bands, as well as doing projects on my own, but last year I came to realize that I needed to make a project that was more personal to me, where I could be more “hands- on” in every aspect. Therefore it became a natural choice to start my own solo project. In the future I might bring other people into the project, as members or guest artist, but for now I am happy to be able to express what I need on my own. The plan is however to have a full band for the live shows, as this is the format I prefer for my music in a live setting.
You’ve said that your music and lyrics are “inspired by life as a being in constant conflict with oneself, haunted by numerous emotions” – what are these conflicts that inspire the music?
For my debut album, I wrote a lot about the feeling of longing for something, without knowing why or what I was longing for. I often feel like I do not belong here, and this makes me feel isolated and therefore lonesome. Even if I feel accomplished and happy in my life, I always have this sense of missing something, which makes for a constant, melancholy outline. The duality between happiness and melancholy, the outside world and my inner world, as well as the duality between nature and urbanity, are all subjects included in these conflicts. The reason why I make music is because I find it a bit difficult to put these feelings and inner conflicts into words. The music allows me to not only express, but also to process all of this.
Where did the name Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart come from?
It was a name I created for one of the songs on the album. The title has several meanings to me, but in general it’s supposed to describe the feeling of everything on the outside being composed, while at the same time everything inside of you is chaos in terms of emotions. Even when the world outside is laid to rest, when you are alone in your room at night, you still can feel an emotional turmoil inside that just won’t settle down. This inspires me to write music and in the end, also lead me to writing this album. Therefore it was a fitting title for me, as it pretty much sums up the album in my opinion.
You’ve said that you are based in Paris and Oslo, how do you manage being in two cities in different countries?
I must admit it is a bit hectic, but I am also very luck to be able to enjoy both these beautiful places, to have two places to call my home. Oslo, with its nature and the sea that I love so much and Paris with the inspiring architecture, art, warm soul… And food of course! I will probably be staying more in Paris from next year though, as I had to stay in Oslo this year to finish my B.A. in musicology.
Does making music in Oslo compare with that of Paris?
It’s two completely different settings, so I draw inspiration from the differences. I love to travel to get inspiration from new places, especially since I’m a very visually inspired person, so moving back and forth works well for me for the time being. Most of “Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart” was written in Oslo and most of my next album was written in Paris. So to be honest, they both work well and balance out each other. If the inspiration flows, it doesn’t really matter where I am in the world.
What was it like touring South America with Alcest?
I would never have imagined that my first tour would be in South America, supporting one of my favorite bands Alcest, so even before leaving, I was so thankful and excited. The shows themselves were amazing and the South American audience was so warm and supportive. I couldn’t have asked for a better start! It was truly an amazing experience! All the people we worked with there did a wonderful job and of course the guys of Alcest are a bunch of sweethearts, so this tour was a pleasure to be a part of. It will be something I’ll remember for a long, long time.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Occasionally, but no, not really. The most I will ever listen to a song is while I’m creating or recording it. I think it’s the same as for most artist; when you are done with an album, you need to let some time pass by before you are ready to listen to it again.
What music do you listen to?
– I love a lot of the music from the post-punk, dreampop and shoegaze scene like The Chameleons, Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Joy Division etc. I also love more modern bands like Sigur Rós, Hammock, Type O Negative and Mono and more heavy stuff like Emperor, Burzum and 40 Watt Sun. Joe Hisaishi is also a favorite. I listen to a lot of different stuff, but in general the music is always atmospheric in some sense.
What do you plan on doing once the album is released?
I’m actually getting ready to go back in the studio to start the recording of my second album as we speak. Making the first album was very inspiring to me, so I ended up finishing the second one shortly after. Now I’m ready to start the process all over again as soon as the debut album is released. Next year I will focus more on the live aspect of the project and do more concerts, hopefully with a full band. In other words; busy times for me, but I absolutely love it!
Sylvaine’s new album is due to be released on November 14, check out her website to find out more!