The Emotional Heart

This month begins with the return of pop maestros Sylvan Esso to both the national stage, with their new record What Now?, and the local scene, with a September 1 concert. Last time the pair passed through town they sold out Tipitina’s; this time they have booked into The Civic. This is a band I have followed closely since the release of their eponymous debut record in 2014. Together, the duo of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn have made a habit of producing timely pop with absolutely killer hooks. I caught up with them just before they hit the road for their summer tour to talk about their creative process and ways these new songs emerged.  One of the things that shows in Sylvan Esso’s approach to songwriting is the organic nature of their compositions. This technique really shines on the new record. I asked Sanborn to walk me through the composition of “Die Young.”

“With [this tack]…I think that’s the version of that song that it ultimately wanted to be. I think when you [Meath] first wrote that song, I think the version it ended up as is the truest version of the song…I think we just followed a thread of what that song wanted to be,” he said. This approach allows them to address the emotional heart of their work while still developing the craft of sound.

Meath spoke to this while discussing the ideas behind “Just Dancing.” “That song was the last song we finished for the record and we really, really fought for it,” she said. “It was one of those songs that I had been working on for eight months trying to figure out how to write a song…about how there’s a wonderful joy to new love or a new relationship where you can see the exact person you want to be reflected in the person you’re trying to charm’s eyes. You’ve given them various cues, enough cues to let them kind of know who you are.”  

This is a great explication not just of their process, but of Sylvan Esso’s progression as a band. They have moved into a more intimate phase of their public image, and we are getting to know their true sound better and better.


Calendar: Must-See Music

September 5
The Oh Sees bring their garage sound to One Eyed Jacks.

September 13
The outstanding Japanese Breakfast will head into the Hi-Ho Lounge.

September 13
The experimental doom metalists The Melvins will roll into One Eyed Jacks.

September 14
Beck will open for U2 at the Dome. The Irish rockers are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Joshua Tree record on this tour.  

September 24
Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ will play at The Orpheum as TajMo, with Black Pacific.

September 26
Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade will take the stage at the UNO Arena. Arcade Fire will be on the debut tour for their new record and Wolf Parade are back from hiatus with a new album as well.

September 27
Synth-pop maven Zola Jesus will perform at Siberia. Nicole Hummel has an excellent new album out this month so expect an intimate night of new tunes. This is a wonderful opportunity to see one of the great contemporary performers up close.

Dates are subject to change; email or contact him through Twitter @Minima.



Digital Sponsors

Become a sponsor ...

Give the gift of a subscription ... exclusive 50% off

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.

Sign up for our FREE

New Orleans Magazine email newsletter

Get the the best in New Orleans dining, shopping, events and more delivered to your inbox.