Preparing for the upcoming UK tour, the young men of Sylvette have little else on their mind – I mean, would you think of much else? However, vocalist, Charlie Sinclair, took some time out to answer some of Nicole’s riveting questions. Here is what he had to say.
OSR: Firstly, a bit cliché, but how did you decide on the name ‘Sylvette’?
CS: Before I went to Music College I knew I wanted to start a band, so I started looking for names. Eventually, I saw a Picasso painting of one of his famous muses Sylvette in Barcelona and really liked the sound of it. We all agreed on it fairly quickly, and it just felt right.
OSR: How did the band come together?
CS: We all met at the Royal Northern College of Music. Ashley, the bass player, and I bonded over a similar music taste; and then I was just walking through Manchester with Pete, the drummer, when I saw a Facebook post for a gig opportunity. We did that first gig as a trio out of coincidence, but in time we realised how lucky we were that we fit together so well.
Dan, the guitarist, was a fan of the band for a couple of years and we admired him hugely as a musician. He gradually joined the band through a couple of gigs helping us out to becoming a full-time member. It was a fairly similar situation with Philip, keyboards and violin, and when Oz, our last violin player, left it was obvious that Philip was the perfect fit.
OSR: You have a new single being released mid-February called ‘Memories (Falling)’. What can you tell me about the single?
CS: It was the song we wrote in the transitional period between the old and new lineup. It’s what got us through that difficult period because it felt so good to play live, and it was a step in a new direction. The last gig of our first UK tour was in Glastonbury, and we had a really strange reception to ‘Memories’. Everyone just instantly loved it, and we ended up playing it twice because they demanded it as an encore. This gave us great confidence to go and record it.
OSR: What was the songwriting process like? Do certain band members focus on different elements, or is a big mash-up?
CS: Normally, I will write the main idea and body of lyrics and take it to the rehearsal room. When we are there, it’s totally open for anyone to share opinions and try different ideas. The best songs come when everyone is equally excited and chips in with different ideas that constantly evolve the song until it’s somewhere we couldn’t have imagined at the start of the process. We have recently also been having laptop-writing sessions where we can focus on the texture and sound of the record we are trying to make.
OSR: What about the recording of ‘Memories (Falling)’?
CS: ‘Memories (Falling)’ was the first of four tracks that were co-produced by New Order guitarist Phil Cunningham and producer Jake Evans (Bad Lieutenant, Jimi Goodwin). We took three days to record the track, which was longer than we had ever spent, so we just got deeper into the process than ever before. Philip is a composer primarily, so he spent a lot of time layering violin parts to create really interesting percussion like textures, as well as soaring orchestral sounds towards the end of the track. Dan and I also had the opportunity to use Phil’s huge array of guitars, amps and pedals including a vintage 12-string from the ’60s that gives the track great variation at certain points.
OSR: Why did you choose to name the track ‘Memories (Falling)’? Is there any story behind that? I’ve always been curious as to how the names of tracks come about.
CS: To be honest, some tracks are much easier to name than others, and this one was difficult. There was no lyric that stuck out, but when we went on tour last year, we announced it as ‘Memories’ as a temporary title. Eventually, everyone kept asking about when we were recording ‘Memories’, so it just stuck. We added the ‘(Falling)’ because that seems to be the melodic turn that people remember from the song.
OSR: Each of the band members has a different musical background. How do you think each of these diversities contributes to Sylvette’s sound?
CS: All the members of the band are on separate musical journeys that we bring together for Sylvette. Philip was trained in a very traditional classical way so he can think about orchestration and textures in really fresh ways. Dan can play most instruments and loves the form and structure of songwriting so always actively contributes to the way songs grow. Pete is really into electronic music and jazz, and Ashley and I are into alternative and indie stuff. I also spent a lot of time writing a film soundtrack that has definitely influenced the way I think about composition. It’s the coming together of these different backgrounds that makes the music interesting and hopefully unique.
OSR: Is ‘Memories (Falling)’ part of a future album, or is this something you can’t talk about just yet?
CS: We currently have two unreleased tracks recorded that will come out after ‘Memories’, but we haven’t yet decided exactly how to do that.
OSR: What inspires each of you to make music?
CS: Everyone in Sylvette was compelled to make music from a young age. As we are growing older and turning into full-time musicians, I think making music is still something we do to make sense of our experiences and the world we live in. There is something life affirming about creating something truly beautiful and, even though most of the music we make is pretty intense and melancholic, a lot of the process is a really fun.
OSR: Music streaming platforms have gained popularity in recent years. How significant do you think these sites, such as Spotify, are for emerging artists?
CS: I think these sites are a blessing and a curse. It’s great to be able to have your music somewhere where everyone can access it so easily, but financially it makes it very difficult as you have to get streamed about 1’000 times to make the same money as selling one CD.
OSR: What was the last experience that made you a stronger person?
CS: Just under a week ago my girlfriend of the last three years ended our relationship. I’d say I’m still in the stage where it’s mostly just pain, but I can feel that this will make me stronger. In time I will take a lot of inspiration from the special connection we had, and I can already feel myself getting deeper into Sylvette, which is always a good thing.
OSR: If you could learn any language fluently, what language would it be and why?
CS: I would probably choose Mandarin. I just think the characters they use are beautiful, and it’s really cool how the different inflexions can give the same word several different meanings.
OSR: How often do you look at your phone each day?
CS: Too much. It’s hard when you run a band because social media is completely necessary to get yourself out there, but it’s also creatively draining to be staring at a screen constantly.
Thanks so much to Charlie for speaking with us! To engage with Sylvette and listen to their music, check out their Facebook, Soundcloud or official website. ‘Memories (Falling)’ is only being released on February 15th, but for now why not listen to Sylvette’s ‘Lobotomy of Love’ on Apple?