Why the name Sylvan Esso?
Nick: Well, it’s kind of an in-joke. But, really, it’s just impossible to name your band anymore. Have you seen all of these dudes just adding a letter to a normal word…
Amelia: …There is also the triangle.
Nick: …And the new one is a celebrity’s name misspelled. I mean, nothing against those bands but it’s just evidence that naming a band is impossible. We knew we needed a band name but we just kept putting it off and finally Amelia came up with something. It was kind of based off this iPhone game that we were playing called Swords and Sorcery. There are these things in the game called sylvan sprites, they are these things that come out of trees to let you know that you are going the right way…
Amelia: …Sylvan sounds pretty cool; Sylvan Esso just feels good to say.
How did you guys meet?
Amelia: I was on the tour scene doing backup for Feist for about a year and a half. Nick and I met up in Milwaukee a while back. We decided to start making music together while I was on tour… and we started emailing back and forth.
Nick: We did a show together in Milwaukee about three years ago – I actually opened for Mountain Man [Amelia's previous band]. After that we just always stayed in touch and then I did a remix for them, which eventually became our song “Play It Right”. We thought that it went really well, so when they [Mountain Man] were in Madison I emailed them and told them that I would love to go to their show… After that we met up and we both immediately thought ‘Hey we should make that happen again’.
Was there any one moment or incident that helped launch Sylvan Esso’s career?
Amelia: Yeah, Hopscotch. September of 2012, I was in Durham, North Carolina where Nick had just moved and we were recording vocals. Nick was doing a set with his solo project called Made of Oak and he had me come up for his last song and we played “Play It Right”.
Nick: I was closing my solo sets with that song anyways, so I was like ‘You should come sing it, it would be cool’.
Amelia: There were about five people in the bar, it was about three in the afternoon, and all of the five people got really excited…
Nick: …But we were excited too. It was at that moment where everything popped into focus.
Is there anything about your winter tour that you guys are particularly excited about?
Nick: California and headlining… We are excited to be on the West Coast, but we just feel so lucky to be able to do a headline tour with only three songs on the internet. We feel so lucky and grateful.
Who are your favorite musicians right now?
Amelia: We are really into this John Hopkins record. A lot of Beyonce and Taylor Swift.
Nick: We did a deep listen to Taylor Swift’s Red yesterday. The thing is, there are sixteen songs on that record and the first eight are undeniably amazing, which is saying something for anyone’s first eight songs on a record.
Amelia: I’ve been studying pop music a lot since we started Sylvan Esso…
Nick: Seeing what the pop world is like right now, it’s at such a weird place that it’s fun to dip in and try to analyze what angles people are coming at it from… In general we are both also really concerned about accessibility… We just want to do something that we can stand behind as nerds and as fans of pop.
Are there any artists that you guys would like to collaborate with?
Nick: I feel like that’s so tough to say. I feel like we figured out that we work really well together almost by accident and so it’s easy for us to say ‘oh all of the people we just talked about are so good and wouldn’t it be cool to work with them’. But really I would just want to be in the studio and watch them work. It’s tough to predict who you would be a good collaborative partner with and who you are a fan of.
Amelia: Really it would just depend on their vibe. If we were to interact with the brand and the sound of Four Tet it would totally be Four Tet.
Nick: There are all sorts of things that would be fun to try but mostly I feel like I’m just getting to the point where I can be a fan again. We want to do more stuff with rappers. We want to do a video game sound track super bad.
How do you anticipate the release of your forthcoming debut LP?
Amelia: What’s really exciting is to put it out and have everyone listen to it. We’ve had it for a while now so being able to give it to the world is a really exciting thing. We have the best jobs in the entire world, it’s so cool that we get to wait for our record to come out and play it for everyone.
Sylvan Esso are on tour in California this week, catch them if you can!