10 Questions with…Sylvan Esso

Photo Credit: Trekky Records

Photo Credit: Trekky Records

Today at All The Write Notes, we’re excited to have “10 Questions With” one half of  one of SPIN’s best bands of October, Sylvan EssoSylvan Esso is a collaboration between vocalist Amelia Meath and electronic musician Nick Sanborn. Amelia sat down to answer questions about inspiration, reading, and how they came to being Sylvan Esso.

For those new to the band… Where did the name Sylvan Esso come from?



There is a game, made by Super Bros. called Sword And Sworcery. Its an amazing game, Jim Guthrie did the soundtrack and the world is really lovely. Either way, in the game, if you are doing well, you meet a Sylvan Sprite. We named ourselves after them.

Favorite 1980’s band? Nervus Rex

Favorite book as a kid? Nick’s is Winnie The Pooh, and mine (Amelia) is Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

One person you would love to sit and have a glass of wine with… Our Moms.

Though your sound feels like you were meant to be together, how did the two of you, from what seems to be opposite ends of the music spectrum, come together?

We were inexplicably billed together a few years ago (Nick’s solo thing Made of Oak opened up for my band Mountain Man) and we loved each other’s music. I think our stuff works so well together not because of a “fresh new combination of crazy styles” or whatever, but because we’re each excited and inspired by what the other can do.

With both of you coming from different bands/projects, was there ever a moment of fear in starting over?

No! So nice! At least from my experience with Mountain Man, it is so nice to know what decisions I need to be prepared to make instead of being surprised by them.

With the deep bass and Amelia’s gorgeous vocals dropping in and out of “Hey Mami”, you have no choice but to bounce throughout. Was the recording of that track as natural and smooth as it feels when you listen to it?

Hey Mami was the first song we made, mostly through email, It was the one that made us decide to really be a band, instead of just hanging out on the internet.

With both “Hey Mami” and “Play It Right”, you have two very accessible pop tracks. Both are tracks that no matter the age, they instantly cause one question to be asked… “Who is this?” What’s it like knowing you’ve created something that instantly moves people?

It feels lovely to see people moving. Like being young and getting a phone call from someone you have a crush on. Its so meaningful for us to have people respond well to what we make. Being an artist and a writer, the importance of the support of those around is immeasurable.

Who’ve been Sylvan Esso’s biggest supporters thus far?

Brad Cook head cheerleader, Donna Orr Champion and Eternal Tolerator, Martin Anderson, who fills the world with light, and Jonathan Meath, my dad, who should be banned from twitter for all his wild retweeting. The spark of creativity comes from so many sources that it’s hard to generalize.

Music, visuals, the vibe of backstage, friends, or driving on the road. Those are a few answers some of the artists I’ve interviewed have said were their catalyst for their songwriting. What’s yours?

Oh all sorts of things. Old records, meeting a woodpecker (literally), Babes.

I’m not sure this will make sense, but their seems to be a genuine trust between the two of you with your music, and on stage. Was it like that from the beginning? And was there a moment when both of you felt that connection?

For me it happened when I saw that we both dance in the same way, as if we are a little itchy, but super stoked about it.

How was it touring with Justin Vernon’s side project Volcano Choir? Any jitters finally getting to play your music in front of large crowds?

We made Sylvan Esso imagining large sound systems, so it was a dream realized. Nick plays with Collections of Colonies of Bees, and I new some of the dudes from other tours I have done, so it felt like an awesome family hang. Not enough football though.

One book, one band…Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, and Juana Molina.

What’s next for Sylvan Esso? Tour? Album?

Oh yes indeed. Both of those. Then another album. Then more tour. New friends and good food. Maybe a walk. Maybe a bike tour if I can get over my violent fear of bikes.

Big A.T.W.N. thanks to Amelia for stopping by. If you like what you hear, and I have no idea how you couldn’t, you can pick up the Hey Mami/Play It Right 12″ and mp3 over at Trekky Records. To keep up with the band’s news, and tour updates, you can find them on Twitter, and Facebook.