Silvester are a fresh danish trio comprising three distinct and powerful musical personalities and talents with a debut EP ‘Show Me You’ out. We have the pleasure of premiering the title track and new single & video of ‘Show Me You’, which is also the title of their excellent new EP of soulful pop.  At Bitchslap we have been covering the soulful underground in Denmark for 10 years or more interviewing and reviewing those kicking against the pricks in a true blue rock and indie country. Silvester are connected to that soulful line in terms of the craft but they are also part of the new school, moving onwards and up in their own style and fashion. In  many ways they are arriving with a fully formed sound so we sat down with Awinbeh and Malthe from the band to hear how they came to this point.

Video shot by Stephanie Stål, Production Designer: Camilla Silvana, Actor: Sonia Suhl

The 3 members met originally while attending the influential breeding ground of musicians and music industry talent that is Copenhagens RMC ( Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium ). Ida Duelund Hansen is an outstanding bass player with her nimble fingers in more pies than a baker. She delivers tight distinct boogie basslines and a rhythmic underlay that pins these grooves to a strong skeleton of beats. Awinbeh Ayagiba, the lead singer is the tall, charming guitarist, lyrcist and songwriter. Completing the trio is Malthe Rostrup – an extremely accomplished and in demand pianist coming from jazz originally.

The ‘Show Me You’ EP is filled with organic sounds and instruments. Recorded in various locations it is a product of what the lads describe as ‘the beauty of mobility’. Silvester are ambitious in terms of their music and performance and the long gestation period of this EP is testament to a lot of hard work that goes beyond the initial short lived thrill of inspiration. They have a busy summer ahead and will be playing Roskilde in the next weeks which will no doubt expose them to many new fans. The musical inspirations on them individually, and as a band are very diverse. Club music and crafty pop are central but also danish language beauties Synd og Skam and Robin Hannibal weigh equally with the  mega pop introversion and sound scapes of Frank Ocean, The Strokes first album and those big pop moments produced by a song like Rhianna’s ‘Work’. The conversation took place at Awinbeh’s studio in Frederiksberg, kicking off with the classic question of ‘so how did you all meet’ ?

Awinbeh: We met at the conservatory and Ida and I were playing with this band which was a Krautrock, repetitive, African-inspired project. When that project split we were figuring out what to do and we talked with Malte and started Sylvester going in a more pop direction compared to the other project. I had some songs in the drawer like ‘Oceans’ for example. We started out just getting to know each other and recording. We had obviously tried recording before but we were new to it when we first got together.

Malthe: It’s funny to look back that we had this approach were we were kinda new to it. Looking back at that period and sitting around RMC and Awinbeh’s computer it was probably a good thing and also we had all these facilities at our disposal. We were just recording randomly and things then ended up somewhere in the session. It was kinda messy! Now we have got into these long discussions about approaching modern production in pop music. Myself and Awinbeh especially have spent a lot of time on that. Ida too, but she is also involved in other projects; experimental music and writing scores for modern classical music. It’s still an interesting combination for us. I had just got into programming a synthesiser at that time and had started to get very open-minded to what was happening at RMC. I was really into that Krautrock band they were in and thought I would love to be in that band. After hanging out over 4 months they eventually asked me if I wanted to join a new band and I said yes with the idea of honouring my own interest in opening up. I had not recorded any music at all at that time, and I didn’t have a specific vibe. Ida and Awinbeh had a vibe already and I joined in on that.

A: I had mostly played in rock bands and was a songwriter basically. I was kinda scared of the level people played at in RMC. I consider myself very much a songwriter guy and was fascinated by how well people like Malthe and Ida played. I was not coming from jazz and grew up with other stuff musically speaking. I had seen Malthe play at the school and was generally fascinated by how well he played rather than what was played. The same with Ida, I didn’t really understand were she was coming from as I had no relation to jazz or modern classical composition.

M: It’s not like some sort of Damon Albarn collaborative project where I am playing with jazz people now. For us it was more about being open-minded and seeing what happens. We went to LA and had this session with Robin ( Robin Hannibal of Quadron and Rhye fame, now based in LA)  and we brought this song to him and worked with him . He was like ‘guys we are hearing the chorus 8 times and each one is a little different’. We stripped it down and co-wrote and made a form of the song that worked. For the band that trip to LA was a turning point with so many new approaches to doing things, making pop music and making it work. It was interesting to apply that frame to the sound that we had. We did an entire EP that we just threw out. ‘Oceans’ came from there and ‘You Know’ also. Coming home from LA and trying to apply these things we had learned there to the sound we already had, was how the final sound on the EP came about.

A: Also learning to spend a lot of time on the stuff that is already there. It has to be improved so much more – the melodies and the beat. It was a very different approach. Up until that point, when producing I had a tendency to fill out the soundscape, because you can. It’s very easy.

M: Yeah its funny to listen to modern pop mixes when the vocals are really noticeable. There is a really good performance and there is a lot of room for the vocals on a huge frequency spectrum. I spent a lot of time on how the vocals should sound. How much to tune it, or blend in the dubs, what the density of the vocal dubs should be. Before LA we didn’t have any dubs. How to sing with an open voice or a darker one ?

A: Pop production is very crafty. The main thing is the story or the song and we are just getting better at telling the story and that is what sets this EP apart from the one we decided not to release. We have cut away all the noise and left only what has to be there. This EP has been very much about finding a voice. ‘Run’ for example is 4 years old and recorded in something like 50 versions. The difference is that in the new version the song speaks out more – it’s not just covered in stuff. It won’t take us another 4 years to produce the next set of tracks because we went through that process to learn the craft and develop a language. Making another EP asap is what’s up now !

M: It came together really nicely and reading honest reactions from people has been great while playing a lot of showcases in the spring and festival shows over the summer. We spent a lot of time getting the set efficient so that it pops.

A: We have a very good relationship with Lukas Rasmussen, our Soundman, who has been with us since the start and he has been a big part of realising the live show. It’s very much a partnership with him. It’s about control – you want control over the live side as much as the recording and we rehearse closely with him to achieve the same sound. He controls delays and we have the in- ear system so we get kinda the same sound, because a lot of the time when playing at a venue it’s normal that it sounds so different on stage. If you step away from the monitor you often can’t hear yourself at all. I had to grow into that. Now I can dance around much more and I also left the guitar out which I had felt very safe behind before. This is all stuff that applies to the new philosophy of just strip it away. Just singing is plenty of work. I don’t need to play guitar as well. There is a craft in that too – learning how to perform and being aware of it. Getting the people in the back of the room to feel the thing as well.  I also felt before that it’s something you ‘just do’. There is a craft to being a good entertainer too, which that has nothing to do with being dishonest to your music or calculated.

M: That’s a huge point. Ditching the indie introversion and that shoegazey part of playing music. Without generalising too much it’s about the fact that this is a more poppy thing. Accepting that the delivery of the music can be more important or just as important as the music itself . There are a lot of people out there relating to music in some way that’s beyond the music. It’s not taking away from the music but it is important to be aware of this, and how you deliver the music.

A: I come from the more ironic, just do what u feel like doing on stage and its more authentic type of thinking but playing a gig like this and entertaining such a huge crowd…, there is nothing natural about that ! It is theatre. Rather than just say I’m going to be my cool natural self… why not just embrace that you are on stage.

M: It’s the same thing with recording ! There is a velocity to vocals. Its definitely the hardest part. I have worked with a lot of vocalists in the studio and the challenge is often how you get them to overdramatise the performance so that it transcends the ordinary stuff, so that people listening can feel the vocal . It’s maybe the most important thing in recording, to avoid sounding boring and deal with being afraid of not sounding cool, that is also something to get past. If you are too self- conscious it takes away and we have worked on getting past that.

Malthe has to split at this point, to hook up with danish soul songstress Coco O. whom he is working with in his own studio. To wrap up I got Awinbeh to take me through a quick guide of tracks on their debut *Show Me You’ EP.

Eternity: 

It was made very fast. I was browsing YouTube and found a ‘how to make a 40 Shebib ( Drake producer) drum sound’ video. Its about retuning an 808 kick and using the same sample, retuning it and making a beat out of it. I made a beat using this and at the same time I had been listening to Palmistry, a white british guy who makes this sort of weird art-reggaeton, so its a combination of these two elements. I wrote the lyrics that night and the shitty mic recording of the vocal is still the same one.  Sometimes the feeling and motion is just right. It’s the only song on the record that was an instant thing like that – we did replace sounds, Malte played keys etc but we ended up keeping most of it.

Show Me You: 

The first demo of ‘Show Me You’ was called ‘Loving You’. It was a big pop tune that I wrote. It was 3 years old at that stage and it had just been sitting there and had no idea what to do with it. The chorus and melody was the same and then ‘Work’ by Rhianna happened . It dropped when we were there in LA and we were totally freaking out about it. We had the sense that now music is different. Things were not going to be the same. Im pretty sure there is some ‘Work’ in there.

Dancer:

I had this influence of house music. I had lived in Berlin 5 years before and discovered this music. It was quite a spiritual experience to me as I had always been into songs and melodies. Songs are 3 minutes and they have a dynamic and structure whereas House and techno has a way longer dynamic than songs. It can span hours with a cyclical receptive thing going on, which freaks you out in another way. It’s much more physical and ‘Dancer’ is like a tribute to that – ending up somewhere between disco and house actually without being either – in a way it’s too melodic for house and also a little too cool to be disco really. I don’t know if it matters but that is how I think about it

On The Run:

That is from the John Lennon period.(Awinbe can’t help laughing here but he is deadly serious) It is a really ongoing thing with me. I don’t know, he is the greatest songwriter of all time in my opinion and I aways go back and forth with him. I wrote this maybe 5 years ago and I was sitting by a piano writing a song which is how it’s made but when I brought it into silvester we made so many different version and the one we settled on is very simple with this incredible bass playing by Ida and experimenting a lot with vocal dubs and chorus. As a song song I felt this is a classic but how to proceed with it was the issue. You don’t want it to be retro sounding and from today. Songwriting to me is very honest or trying to be anyway. If it was too retro it would be dishonest, so doing new things production wise was key to it. I am pleased with how it ended up now but I guess that is why it took so long to change. We have even done a version with classical orchestra as RMC school project plus a Mø – like version. How to make it into a tune was a process the band and I had to learn.

Blackhearted: That was done in LA and we initially just posted it on soundcloud ourselves so it’s been around. We would only have remastered it to sound like the rest of the EP….

At this point we somehow we ramble in another direction here. We forgot to talk further about being ‘Blackhearted’ or rather started off on a tangent talking about the lyrics, which Awinbeh writes and then we ran out of time so you will have to check it yourself 😉 and wonder…listen.

Go hear the EP and catch them at festivals this summer – kicking off with Roskilde just around the corner !

 

0 YO!