Behind the Song
Sylvie & Mandy - An Interview with Sylvie Abate
Updated: Mar 13, 2021
Sylvie Abate is a songwriter who writes, arranges, produces and performs original music influenced by Americana, folk, and classical. She is also a multi-instrumentalist (classical guitar, acoustic guitar, and bass). Sylvie collaborates with Mandy Sullivan who is a singer-songwriter and multi instrumentalist as well (classical guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, ukulele and mandolin). Sylvie & Mandy won a 2019 Global Music Award for "Best Vocals", "Best Songwriter", and "Best Lyrics". For more information on Sylvie & Mandy, visit their web-page on Sylvie's Songs.
For fans who have never heard your music, can you pick three words to describe it?! If three words just aren't enough then tell us more!!
I would describe my music as alternative, melodic folk with poetic lyrics. It's not quite country and it's not pure folk; it's somewhere in-between.
What is your favorite part about being an artist? Is it songwriting, performing, recording, or something else?) Tell us why.
Songwriting is my first love. I'm an introvert by nature and although I love performing and recording, songwriting is something that I can do in my own space. If I had to give up performing or recording, I'd be okay with that....but, I'll never stop writing songs.
Can you tell us what being in the recording studio is like for you?
"Before Covid, a common thing to say if you're an artist, I would go into the studio after performing the song live for a year or so. So the studio was like an extension of playing a gig. But when Covid hit, both Mandy and I found that the studio experience didn't feel the same. So I decided to try something new and work with session musicians. Working with studio/session musicians has been an amazing experience. It's so fun to see what other musicians bring to the table. When you give great studio musicians the freedom to create and do what they do best, the results are fantastic.
Okay, this a fun question. When you are not playing music, what else do you enjoy doing?
When I'm not playing music - I like to hear other people play music! Nothing is more rewarding then live music. It inspires me. I recently moved to San Antonio, Texas which neighbors Austin. Austin is known around the world as having an eclectic music scene (over 250 live music venues) that features everything from rock and blues to country and jazz every night of the week. And San Antonio is pretty amazing as well. I'm hoping that live music will make a comeback in the near future. In the meantime, I have been supporting concerts online and have experienced some amazing virtual performances.
I am also in an Austin guitar orchestra! I love learning ensemble music on classical guitar. The orchestra rehearses online via Zoom and so far, it's been great! You can check out Austin Classical Guitar here.
Who do you admire most in the music scene today and why?
I have to give a nod to Bob Dylan; he is my favorite songwriter. Dylan is a poet and an old soul, and I think he has written the best songs of all time. Some people say that Bob can't sing. That comes from a lack of understanding folk music. He's an extremely expressive folk singer; every character-infused nuance is intentional and brilliant. He just released an amazing album titled Rough and Rowdy Ways. The song "I Contain Multitudes" is a must listen. In this song, Dylan channels Walt Whitman.
Can you tell us what song you've written that is the most emotional and describe the meaning behind it?
"Roots Run Deep" is probably the most emotional, You can listen to the song on my website. Some people suffer in a way that keeps love from growing, and it's a very sad thing to experience. In the opening lines, "Roots run deep. Trees grow tall. Leaves bleed their colors, and they fall", I am referring to the idea that most children grow up and move past any pain they suffered in their childhood, but for some people, it's not that simple.
Are you working on any new material right now, or what's in the works for the upcoming year?
Sylvie & Mandy will be releasing our first single as an official duo titled "Broken Year" in the next two weeks. "Broken Year" is about second chances that don't work out. Everyone has heard the expression, "If at first you don't succeed, try again." Success isn't always achieved with effort, and it's easy to be harsh on yourself when this happens. "Broken Year" is about letting go of the judging voices in your head. Sometimes, we do the best we can and that's enough. "Let the judges be fair, this was a broken year." I also have a new country song called "Same Old Story" that I'm working on. It's about recognizing that some people can't change, even if they want to; they keep writing the same story over and over and you don't have to be part of their loop. It's a fun country song.
And finally, Mandy and I are working on a second release of "Apathy", a song I wrote in 2013 about being kind to animals. We are adding a bridge section and giving it a much better sound.
Tell us where fans can access your music.
You can check out some past songs at sylvie-songwriter.com
About Sylvie & Mandy
Sylvie & Mandy write, record, perform and produce original, alternative folk music. Their music explores the traditions of folk and Americana mixed with a touch of classical. Both women hold music degrees in classical guitar performance. Sylvie is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, and Mandy is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music. Sylvie is a lyricist and songwriter who plays guitar and bass. Mandy is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, mandolinist, pianist and ukulele player. In 2019, Sylvie & Mandy received a "Gold Medal Award" from the Global Music Awards for "Best Songwriter & Lyrics" and "Best "Vocals" for their song "Roots Run Deep." Based in Connecticut and Texas, Sylvie & Mandy have been writing and performing together for many years. They have played many prestigious folk venues like Friday Night Folk (New London), The Buttonwood Performing Arts Center (Middletown), the Mystic Arts Center, and the Breadbox Folk Series (Willimantic). The two women were part of the popular New England folk group, The Beekeepers, and they both performed with the Celtic Trio, Celticity. Mandy teaches guitar and piano at Mandy's Music Lessons in Milford, CT and Sylvie teachers guitar online with Guitar on Demand.
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