Throughout the past couple years, we’ve seen an emergence in what I like to consider folk-electronic music rising up from the depths of your favorite underground music venues into your SiriusXM radios. Although the genre has been steadily growing, it somehow has yet to move on as a passé movement in the scheme of genres making a comeback here in Southern California.
Since Sylvan Esso‘s self-titled debut this past May, they’ve set the bar to a whole other level with tracks that reverberate throughout and unique mixes of top-notch vocals and clean production. From front to back, Singer Amelia Meath (previously of folk trio Mountain Man) and producer Nick Sanborn have created an interesting mix of simple yet mysteriously complex tracks filled with layers of meticulousness that leave for an experience in itself.
The dynamic eb and flow of the album provides listeners with jams like ‘Hey Mami’ and ‘Coffee‘— both to be enjoyed with a pair of headphones or in your nearest hipster dance dive—I personally recommend Dance Yourself Clean at Short Stop. Before the band hit their two night sold-out shows at The Troubadour, LA CANVAS Magazine had a chance to chat with Nick about now, next and how the duo came to be.
LAC: Out of curiosity, Amelia, having played with the trio Mountain Man (a very folk centered trio, touring with Feist and such), did you ever see your musical journey translating over to a more electronic/instrumental world?
NICK SANBORN: I hesitate to speak for her, but she has always loved electronic music and pop and wanted to try something that was more accessible. Both of us have a bit of genre-ADD, and have hopped around a lot over the course of our “careers”.
We’re booked out for the extended foreseeable future, and working on lots of remixes and new stuff when we can. We’re just grateful to be out here and playing for more and more people, which we’ll continue to do as long as we can.
LAC: Having both come from what seems very different musical backgrounds, what brought you two together to experiment on what is now your signature sound?
NS: We were just big fans of one another. I think any time two people are fans of each other’s music it allows them to contextualize each other. The remix of Play It Right kinda took me by surprise – it showed me a way I could work with someone musically in a different way than I had been before, and thankfully Amelia felt the same way. We didn’t set out with any stylistic goals beyond accessibility, this is just the natural music we make together (for right now, at least).
LAC: Once you got together and did the first mix of “Play It Right” what was the tipping point when you decided, “Yes, this is the direction we are going to go, and we are going to rock it”?
NS: After that we started trading ideas over email, which was exciting but neither of us had any expectations. The tipping point for me was a couple months later, when Amelia flew out to Durham to hang and record vocals at my house. I had a solo show scheduled at Hopscotch (a festival here in NC) and asked her to join me to sing Play It Right, which I had been using as the closer to my sets pretty regularly. Something just clicked during that song (the first time we had ever been on stage together, in front of six or so people) – we both looked at each other afterwards and decided we had to see where it could go.
*We both look at each other and decided we had to see where it could go…
LAC: The songs “Coffee” and “Hey Mami” seem to building the most traction in the blogosphere, are those tracks in which you were anticipating to hit, or did you have other songs off the album which you’d really like to resonate more with listeners?
NS: Not at all. We kinda had no idea what to release as singles. We had already put out Hey Mami and Play It Right on a 12″ single (just because they were our first two songs), and so we decided to put out Coffee next just because it was an opposite vibe of the other two. We thought it was way more of a sleeper hit than a single, I mean, it’s such a bummer of a song in so many ways.
LAC: The album still seems to be building serious momentum since it’s release in May, and with a nation wide tour, what are you thinking is the next level for Sylvan Esso?
NS: Who knows? We’re booked out for the extended foreseeable future, and working on lots of remixes and new stuff when we can. We’re just grateful to be out here and playing for more and more people, which we’ll continue to do as long as we can.
LAC: I have to ask (sorry if this has been thrown your way a million times) but what is the meaning behind the name “Sylvan Esso”?
NS: It’s loosely based on a video game called Swords and Sworcery that both Amelia and I would highly recommend.
LAC: I am not sure how many times either of you have been to Los Angeles (we are very excited for your show at the Troubardour), but is there a spot in town that you must hit while you’re here?
NS: We’ve recently been addicted to this breakfast taco spot called Home State, so that’ll be on the docket. Other than that our trip will hopefully involve hugging my friend Spencer, eating bahn-mi at this pop up place by Jackie’s house, and taking a hike up several of your urban staircases.
LAC: If you had one thing to say to describe your current tour, what would it be?
NS: Fantastic and exhausting.
LAC: What are some bands or songs that you two currently have loaded on your playlists right now?
NS: The Lounge Lizards – Voice of Chunk (whole record), Jessy Lanza – Keep Moving, Caribou – Can’t Do Without You
Follow the band here and be sure to purchase their new album out now at your favorite local record store.