NewTracks New Artist: Sylvee

NewTracks New Artist: Sylvee

She released her first EP back in 2019, but it seems it’s now time for Nelson-based independent pop musician Sylvee to take a bow, with her pull-no-punches single Time For The Girls being featured on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this November. 

What’s your name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

Sarah Ryland. Born in Takapuna, Auckland but moved to Nelson when I was 10 and am now based here. I play the piano and the guitar, but am in no way an expert!

Was any high school or other music training important?

I took music my first year of high school, but was too shy and terrified of having to sing in front of people so didn’t continue. I didn’t tell anyone I could sing until about eight years ago.

Any previous projects we might know you from?

Before Sylvee I released music along with Daniel Marchbank under the name Bank Land.

What’s the background story of how Sylvee came to be? 

Sylvee was born as a way of me exploring my own creativity and sound. It was really a creative outlet for me while I was working on Bank Land stuff. It’s just me now, and I am loving having the freedom to create without limitations.

How has your  music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

With Bank Land I started with more of an electronic sound. When I started exploring outside of that, everything was a lot more emotive, particularly with my first EP ‘Life On Mars’. These days I’ve been combining the emotion with more pop/alternative production and writing more about things I care deeply about.

How and when did you come up with the name Sylvee for this project?

I used to live on Sylvia Road in Northcote, Auckland. That house was always full of happy memories, and is where Sylvee came from. I think it really began around 2015.

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date? 

I have had a couple of really cool syncs on a couple of US TV shows called ‘Walker’ and ‘The Republic of Sarah’.

What makes Time For The Girls stand out for you as a single?

It’s really an introduction to a new explorative sound for me. The topic of equal rights is also so important to me, which is why I also wanted to work with a female director for the video too.

What’s the story behind Time For The Girls?

We wrote the song about feeling tired of male domination. It’s a moment that sociologically feels like rebellion, but in actual fact is claiming pure equality. Women have been made to feel small all their lives, and with Time For The Girls, we’re letting you know that we’re not only done with that narrative, but we’re full of power, and we’re not playing around.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

Definitely the drums in the second verse!

Who did you write/record/produce the single with and where?

I wrote the song with Dan Martin and Mckenzie Comer in Auckland. Dan also produced it and did such an amazing job.

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

I hope that they feel empowered!

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

I think it’s important to love what you’re putting out, so if you’re obsessed with it, that’s a good sign.

Who else is in your team?

I’m independent at the moment which I have actually been loving. For a long time I haven’t felt like I’ve had a lot of creative control. There are obviously merits to listening to advice from skilled professionals, but for now I’m happy sinking into the creative process, and making music that I love. I’ve learnt a lot about the way the industry works over the last year, and it’s been challenging, but so rewarding at the same time.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

My EP is due for release early next year which I’m super excited about.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song.

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? 

Time for the Girls actually didn’t get funding the first time we applied, so we applied again in the next round because we really believed in the track. It got accepted that time which was awesome. I think you really do need to back yourself up because no one is going to believe in your project more than you.

Was there an NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? 

There are obviously a few things you have to tick off the list, and at the beginning, I didn’t have enough to pass. But the more you keep going, and achieving along the way, it tends to get easier to tick the boxes.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

GRRRL is amazing! Coup De Main, and of course NZ Musician!

Who did you make the video with?

The video was directed by Ruby Harris who is one of my faves. She’s always so fun to work with!