TIOJ was delighted to chat with Amelia of the talented new duo Sylvan Esso the other day as she took a break from packing boxes in anticipation of Sylvan Esso’s upcoming tour with Volcano Choir. Read ahead as we chat with Amelia about how Sylvan Esso came to be and her unique summer song choice.
Listen while you read to OUR song of the summer, “Hey Mami”:
Tell us about yourselves! How long have you and Nick been making music together?
Nick and I met at The Cactus Club in Milwaukee. We (my other band, Mountain Man) were on tour with Twin Sister and Bear In Heaven. It ended up that for the gig we were playing, the promoters put Nick on the show. I knew that we were friends immediately because he dances in the same way that I do. His set was his solo project, Made of Oak, which is totally awesome. And then when Mountain Man needed a remix, I emailed him the stems and the remix was so good -- it actually turned into “Play It Right.”
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
It’s electronic pop music. It’s mostly about raging and having fun.
You guys both play in other bands -- Mountain Man and Megafun. How do those experiences help with this project?
Well, Mountain Man is on hiatus and Megafun is also taking a break, so it was really a perfect time for us and a perfect time for Sylvan Esso to begin being as productive as possible.
How did you come up with the name Sylvan Esso?
It’s based off of this awesome video game called Sword & Sworcery. It’s an iPhone platform game run by this awesome indie game group called Superbrothers. The game is so disgustingly awesome, it’s kind of ridiculous how cool it is. In the game, there are these things call Sylvan Sprites and when you’re doing the right thing, they hop out of the trees and when you touch them on the screen they sing [Amelia proceeds to sing the Sylvan’s song]. They are so beautiful and lovely, and while we were banging our heads against the wall trying to figure out what our name was, I said “Sylvans!” and it stuck.
Click ahead to find out more about their upcoming tour and Amelia's (sort of) favorite president!
What is your writing process like?
Most simply, I write lyrics and melody and Nick writes music, but in actuality, we both take on each other’s roles quite regularly. It’s really about as collaborative as it could be. Basically, it comes down to us hanging out around each other. We’ll all be hanging out it Nick’s room while he’s working on mixes and we’ll just be able to chime in. He’s there every time I come up with something that we should use. Whether it’s the lyrics or a melody or a hook for a song, I’ll sing it to him and he’ll give me his input.
You guys are about to go on tour with Justin Vernon’s side project Volcano Choir -- what are you most excited for on this tour?
Just to play in front of people! We’ve been working on our songs for so long, just getting as much work out of the way as we could so that we’ll be able to really tour when we’re touring. We’ve only played two shows outside of North Carolina and they were so much fun. Other than that, we’re so ready to play in front of large groups of people.
Who would be your dream musician to collaborate with?
Probably Juana Molina -- she’s amazing. I got to meet her when I was singing backup with Feist in South America and she opened a bunch of the shows. She is so incredible and smart and I really look up to her.
I would always say Tom Waits, but I don’t think that Tom Waits and Sylvan Esso would go very well together at all...
What have you all been listening to on this tour? Anything we need to add to our iPods right now?
It’s nothing new, but this guy named Marvin Pontiac (it’s actually John Lurie). He did this amazing solo album called The Legendary Marvin Pontiac - Greatest Hits and the last track, “No Kids,” would probably be our song of the summer. We’ve been listening to it a lot. Get the whole album and listen to it all the way through, it’s so good.
Since we’re based in DC -- who is your favorite president?
Favorite president?! Oh my gosh. I mean, quite honestly, probably one of the sad forgotten ones that sort of fucked up.
Thanks so much to the darling Amelia for taking the time to chat with us! Make sure to check out Syvlan Esso live at the 9:30 Club on September 12 (tix here) and download their singles over on bandcamp!