With their third album SYLVAINE takes another big step forward. SYLVAINE explains in an interview what „Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone“ is all about, how the artwork is connected to the music and why there are two mufflers on the album with their father Stephen and Neige (Alcest).
Your promotional pictures are very diverse, starting with the modern one with the purple color on your hand, ending with the „angel-style“ one with the white costume. Which one you like most, which one fits best to the album?
I think all the different promotional pictures related to this album fit the music in their own, unique way. I wanted to make sure to showcase both this lighter and darker side within the music in a visual manner, and with the assistant of my two lovely, talented friends Andy Julia and Daria Endresen, we managed to capture all the nuances the music had to offer.
The album is entitled „Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone“ – what was the idea behind this title and is there some underlying concept?
„Atoms aligned, Coming Undone” represents the feeling of decline when something unravels before your eyes. Little by little, something is worn down or broken, until it finally disintegrates completely. I often speak about my relationship with the human form in my music and on this album, I got inspired by the outside world for once. I believe the human form tends to temporarily sever us from our origins, at the same time that our society tends to corrupt the innocence we naturally hold, as time goes by. “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone” not only refers to my personal relationship with life, but also how the human world is destroying everything; nature and man alike.
The album has a great, very detailed artwork – who is responsible for this, and what was the inspiration for the picture? Is there a connection to the lyrics or album title?
I got in touch with my brilliant, illustrator friends in Førtifem in Paris and they worked their magic to come up with what you see on the cover today. I knew I wanted to have something that was more graphic than my previous cover, made by the great Sylfvr. The cover needed to be striking, yet it had to keep the atmospheric touch that the music clearly gives. The idea of a crystal cluster being the perfect embodiment of something that is breathtakingly beautiful and deep, yet still harsh and dangerous was very intriguing to me. I have a distinct memory of having been shown some beautiful paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, featuring aggressive icebergs that almost looked to take on the shape of crystals, which became the starting point of the artwork «Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone» ended up having. I’m so happy with Førtifem’s work on this album – It truly represents the music in a perfect way.
Last visual-related question: You’ve got also a new SYLVAINE-logo with this album – is it only because it fits better to the gems on the artwork, or will that be your future logo?
Førtifem kindly came up with this new logo, to go with the feeling of this release, but I have a feeling it will be sticking around past the release of “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone”. It feels right to me.
Musicwise, I think „Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone“ is a mixture of your two prior releases – it’s not that heavy and dark as „Wistful“, but also not that tuneful as SCNH. What do you think about that?
As I see it, “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone” has a more focused expression than the previous two albums. At the same time, it holds a stronger variety and pushes the dualities even further, creating a greater balance between the opposing forces. Where “Wistful” was an incredibly somber and downright sad record, I feel like “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone” carries a bigger darkness to it. In those moments where there’s no hope, you really can’t find a glimmer of light left within the music, yet, there’s still an uplifting vibe to some of the other melodies. I think this record is a natural progression from “Wistful”, showcasing a slightly more mature version of my music, if I can use that word. I think the production choices and sound work has drawn a line between the two first releases too, as I went for a more organic touch on this new album.
Neige was involved this time as well, as a session-drummer, together with Stephen Shepard. Why two different drummers?
It has always been very important to me to share my passion with the people that mean the most to me in my life. To work on something so dear to yourself, together with the people you love, is just a gift, something that will always be there as a testimony of your bond. I wanted to share this with my father, Stephen Shepard. I didn’t do that much recording in Norwayfor “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone”, making his participance a bit limited this time around (on “Wistful”, it was 50/50 Neige and my father), but I still wanted to include him on the record. He’s an excellent drummer and was also kind enough to embark on this journey with me for me first album, so it’s been important to me to keep this tradition alive. Both my father and Neige have something super valuable to my music, in different ways.
The album mastered by Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Oathbreaker) at Atomic Garden in San Francisco (US). Why was he the perfect choice for this job?
Working with a different team for this album became a natural choice, since the music lend itself to something a bit more organic and different than the two previous ones. I already knew of Jack and his work on several records that I admired thru the years, so I figured I’d get in touch, to see if he’d be on board to work on my album. As he was enthusiastic about the idea, Benoît Roux, the recording and mixing engineer and I agreed it was the perfect person to master this new album of mine.
You played some shows and tours already – but no german tour so far. Will there also be a tour (with German dates) in support of your new album?
We didn’t have the pleasure of doing a German tour so far, no. Only single shows and festivals last year, which we all really enjoyed. Germany is a special market, that I think most band really appreciate. We would be more than happy to come back during our European travels next year! We are working on making a European tour happen during spring next year, so this will surely be the right occasion to return for a handful of shows.
Thank you for the interview! Please let us do a short brainstorming now:
Kodama: The train that is most affordable to take between Tokyo and Osaka in Japan. (laughs) It’s also one of the best albums of 2016 – an Alcest masterpiece!
Brett Kavanaugh: Oh god, don’t get me started on this whole mess we know as current day USA … Let’s go with one word; disaster
Behemoth: My friend Metastazis, who made an emblematic logo for them.
Your favorite album at the moment: Four- way tie between the new Emma Ruth Rundle, “On Dark Horses”, Vampillia’s “The Divine Move”, Type O Negative’s “October Rust” (it’s that time of year again) and Hammock, „Departure Songs“.
Banksy: Don’t really know what to make of Banksy. He does some cool stuff though, and his exploding artwork was quite something.
SYLVAINE in 10 years: World domination? Just kidding (laughs) I don’t know what the future brings, but I do know that music will still be made. Hopefully I’ll be allowed to focus on my project full time for some time longer, but we’ll see. Crossing my fingers that the journey will be exciting no matter what!
Once again thanks for your time. The last words are yours – is there anything left you want to tell our readers?
Thank you ever so much for giving me this opportunity to speak to the readers of Metal1.info – I truly hope you enjoyed my little rant here. Also hope to be back in Germany very soon, hopefully for our European tour plans next year. See you then!