Sylvan Esso - Promo

When we interviewed SYLVAN ESSO at Dockville Festival last month, they welcomed us with a cold Carlsberg and led us out with a lobster joke. Nick sat on the floor; Amelia intermittently started stretching; their voices remained confident and their demeanor at ease through the entire conversation. The energy that the two have on stage was definitely dimmed in the setting, but the chemistry between them stayed just as strong. They held back on telling us much about their upcoming album, offering neither a potential release date nor much more than letting us know that it’s coming along well. Instead they told us about their current tour, how they work so dynamically together and what it has been like working their way up in the music industry.

On the main differences of playing festivals versus regular shows:

Amelia: They’re just different games. It’s like the difference between poker and backgammon. I like festival sets in that there’s already an energy and people are willing to give a lot. But that being said, the energy being emitted is much more willy nilly. It’s bigger and larger, but no one has come necessarily to see your show. When it’s our show, there’s a certain amount of control that we have over the audience and since it’s indoors you can control the wave, in a way that you just can’t at festivals.

On how their collaboration process has changed since they first started working together:

Nick: I feel like the biggest difference is that we used to be in separate rooms a lot more. So I’d make something, then she’d make something then we would slowly move back and forth. And now it’s way more both of us in the same room the whole time, from no idea to a finished song. That might just be because we hang out so much now.

On how they compliment each other:

Amelia: You’re good at concrete things. You’re not good at being on time necessarily, but you’re good at concrete things. I’m good at being on time, but I forget what happens.

Nick: You’re micro, I’m macro.

On the most surreal moment of their career thus far:

Nick: To us, it’s this kind of linear, very slow decent. There are moments that feel like benchmarks to us, but they were all just the next step up on this tiny continuum.

On the US music industry:

Amelia: The more deeply I get into it, the more it seems like a pretty wild game that grown ups play around children.

On their tattoos:

The one on her arm comes from the light show they used in the states during their tour with WYE OAK. Everyone on the tour got it.

Amelia: It was a really seminal tour for all of us: it felt like a big step up for everybody involved…Jen from WYE OAK came up with it.

Nick: On his arm, there are two ‘flow charts that spell out all the possible chord progressions in Western music’…one’s for major keys, one for minor keys. I was a composition major, so a super nerdy music guy tattoo.

And lastly, on how they define Hope and Passion:

Amelia: [Cackles…] Oh, I am so jaded.

Nick: Listen to you… Hope, beyond the literal definition? I don’t know anymore. I think that for me, a big reason that I’m drawn to this lifestyle, is that I need in my life this constant feeling of progress that the next thing I’m going to do is better than the thing I’m doing now, or I’m about to get better myself. That there’s an arc to each interaction that I have, and that it’s not just this endless loop, which is probably what prevents me from being able to work at an office cause I’m too immature to handle that similar loop. So to me, hope is a big part of what makes me want to get up every morning- this idea that my day can be a part of a continuum that I’m dictating. That the next thing will be a step in a direction, and that my choices dictate all of those things.

Amelia: I think passion is the thing that makes you high without drugs.

SYLVAN ESSO, live at Ms Dockville 2015. Photo by Sasha Chebil

SYLVAN ESSO, live at Ms Dockville 2015. Photo by Sasha Chebil

The confidence and the connection that the two had in the interview radiated in their live show later that day. During their set, they did what they have been doing all festival season long: dropping new tracks from album number two. Although the tracks are still unnamed, and the album still unfinished, based on their releases, the album will likely please just as well as the first. The new tracks made their audience move just as much as the usual crowd pleasers of Coffee or Hey Mami, as Amelia shuffled across stage and Nick hovered and bobbed over the boards. Though they were fairly reserved about the album’s progress in the interview, they suspect it will be out early next year once they can steadily work on it once they’re home in November.