Sylvaine is the solo project of Sylvaine. Hailing from Norway, her music is a blend of shoegaze and post-black metal full of emotional tugs and beautiful melody. Now she’s back and ready to follow up her 2014 release Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart. Her new album Wistful (our review here) journeys further into the dreamy, post-rock ether. The album cascades with gorgeous melodies and dramatic refrains but introduces tumult and tribulation into the heavenly and serene; striking a deeper and more articulate balance between the dark and and the light. Featuring Neige (Alcest) on drums, Wistful is ornate, ethereal rock from one of Norway’s most promising artists. It’s available 5.13.2016 via Seasons of Mist. Pre-Order the album here. It’s being streamed, in its entirety, right here.
How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?
Music has always been a big part of me since I was a child. Seeing as my parents were both musicians and working in the music business, I was introduced to this life from an early age. Making and playing music is absolutely a cathartic process for me and became a sort of therapy that I couldn’t live without, something I discovered in my early teenage years. Since then I started working both on my own and in bands/projects to find my own voice and to develop my writing and instruments skills. In 2013 I decided I was ready to start a project that would be more personal to me, where I could be more “hands on” in every aspect of the band. That’s when Sylvaine was born. In terms of achieving my goals in music, I always wanted to live from it. To be able to focus 100% of my time on my art and to be able to spread it around the world touching as many people on the way as possible is something I’ve wanted since I first started taking music more seriously when I was about 14. I’m absolutely on the right track to achieve this, even though I have a long, long way to go before my teenage dreams will be reached with Sylvaine. I can already thank music for a lot of important experiences that I’ve had in my life so far though and can’t wait to see what it will bring with it in the future!
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised?
As far as I can think of, I never had to debase myself to get my project attention. Wouldn’t be comfortable doing that either, as I believe you can do a lot just by working your ass off, making clever decisions for your project and using your contacts wisely. Other embarrassing stories however, those I have plenty of! One of the first stories I could think of was when I worked with Mötley Crüe for the first time. It was one of the first concerts I worked at for Live Nation Norway, when Mötley Crüe played Oslo Spektrum back in June 2007. They had just finished their show and I was picked up by my boss to go backstage to start my shift, cleaning the dressing rooms of the guys after they would leave the venue (hey, we all have to start somewhere, right?). As I approached the dressing room of Vince Neil, all of a sudden, this huge, butch looking guy shoved me straight into his dressing room. Super shocked and confused I now found myself in the middle of the room, right in front of Vince Neil, which had this sheepish looking smile on his face, while checking me out. Obviously, his security guard thought I was just another groupie showing up to keep Mr. Neil warm after the show… This even though I was dressed like a hobo, ready to work! I said hello to Vince and immediately backed out of the dressing room, stating loudly that; “I’m not a fucking groupie” to the security guard. Didn’t have any more problems after that, but it was a bit of an interesting start, haha…
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
That’s a very good question. I would maybe expand the parameters and say that in general in the music scene today, there are too many bands/artist out there that really shouldn’t have ended up in the spotlight to begin with. As I think the amount of talent a musician has is less and less important when it comes to success in the business, I feel a lot of mediocre stuff out there is getting a lot of buzz. I also feel like a lot of bands tend to use gimmicks more to get attention, to stand out from the huge crowd. That often comes off as a cheap shot to me. The good thing however, and this goes specifically for metal too, is that all the different genres seem to be blending more and more, resulting in a more open-minded audience and some very interesting new music. I think the metal scene is way more accepting of more untraditional elements used in the genre, such as softer elements, ethereal textures, atmospheres and so on. Another good thing is that metal seems to be more and more accepted by society, making it an even bigger and wider genre than before. Finally people are realizing that it’s one of the best things, with one of the best audiences in music!
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music? (This question is especially appropriate for you since your music is quite an outlet for your physical and emotional pains).
The issues I speak about in Sylvaine are very introvert and personal, so I try to keep my art somewhat neutral in relation to outside causes and politics, not to mix this into my art. I’m not Bob Dylan or Pussy Riot, even though I would say a lot of my music is related to or a direct result of feeling alienated by society as it is today. I must admit though that I tend to be very afraid and skeptical towards the direction society is developing in and also the way people are communicating with each other these days. It seems like everyone is getting more and more self-centered, something I think we can attribute partially to the incline in social media use, which makes for a quite dysfunctional society on a human level. I really hope things will get better, as every field in the human society seems to be getting pushed further and further towards their extreme boarders, which quite frankly, doesn’t seem to be benefiting anyone.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
I was around 16 when I first started to explore more heavy sounding music. Before this, I was into classic/hard/melodic rock, with Aerosmith being one of my favorite bands. Eventually this lead me to heavier stuff, when I started searching for new bands and artists to check out. This got me into the goth/doom/alternative metal scenes, with band such as Type O Negative, Black Sabbath, Funeral, Marilyn Manson and The Cure being some of my favorites. Shortly after that I discovered black metal, grunge, as well as all the post-punk/shoegaze/dreampop/darkwave scenes that I love so much today. Now I’m pretty much listening to all type of genres, as long as the music is touching me somehow. My parents didn’t seem to mind my fascination for the heavier, darker music and subcultures at all, as they were never too conservative. They didn’t always show the same appreciation as me for all the music I listened to, yet they supported me and came with me to festivals to see some of my favorite bands play. My parents are really the best!
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
I would say to really take the time to engulf yourself in the universe of each album you are reviewing and to listen to everything in it’s whole. Do proper research before writing about something or someone, stay open minded and try to put yourself into the shoes of each musician. Give praise when it’s due and stay critical when it’s needed. Some music critics seem to take trashing a musician’s life work so easily, yet I’m sure they don’t know exactly what goes into making an album themselves. How you put absolutely all your time, effort, emotions, resources and money into doing something you love, laying your soul bare. It’s quite strange to think that we are making reviews of something that is so abstract and incredibly subjective to each individual that experiences it. As for young people getting into the music business, I would say; stop trying to take advantage of the people that are enabling you to have a job at all. Without the musicians, there would be no business at all, so acting like it’s ok that the only person left without anything is the guy who created something to begin with, doesn’t seem fair to me. Keep that in mind and try to find new, good solutions and ideas to update and improve the business for everyone involved.
What’s your goal? You thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you have a day job or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
World domination would be nice, please! But seriously, my dream since I was 14 years old has been to be able to live from what I love most to do in life. I really don’t need a fancy life, but I just want to be able to live humbly from creating my art. I have never been under the illusion that this would be an easy life choice or a quick fix, but I still had to try to make it work, as I would regret it deeply if I didn’t. That’s why I’m giving myself a few years now, just to focus on Sylvaine and getting this project up on it’s feet. So Sylvaine is my day job at the moment. Other than this, I work freelance for Live Nation Norway sometimes. Also on my spare time, which is pretty much never these days, I love to listen to music, spend time in nature, take walks, read, play games (retro video games, board games etc.), cook, watch movies… Is it just me or did this just turn into a dating add??
Finally, when you’re not listening to, writing or playing metal, what are some of you favorite albums to listen to currently?
For the past months I’ve been listening to Bathory’s “Hammerheart” and “Under The Sign of the Black Mark”, Darkthrone’s “The Underground Resistance”, Immortal’s “Pure Holocaust”, Marilyn Mansons’s “Antichrist Superstar” and one of my favorite metal albums of 2015, “Natron” by the French band Crown. This album’s opening track is like a slap in the face, yet so beautiful; it’s just too good not to be checked out if you don’t know it! I was also having a period of listening to “Abyss” by Chelsea Wolfe earlier this year. The production and sound on this album is just mind blowing! Other than that, I have also been listening a lot to “ The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place” by Explosions In The Sky, “Nevermind” by Nirvana, “Siamese Dream” by Smashing Pumpkins, “October Rust” by Type O Negative and various songs by Grimes after seeing her play live for the first time in early March this year.