Vinyl! Vinyl! Vinyl!

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

There’s nothing cooler than a vinyl  record – except for a sea-green vinyl record or one that looks like caramel ice cream! Light In The Attic Records have come out with two Collectors’ Editions of the album a number of critics are hailing as one of the best releases of the year – pressing 100 copies of the turquoise Sylvie and 200 copies in “forest marbled wax”. There’s also the regular black 12″ (and CD and download versions).

sylvie vinyl

For  more details: http://lightintheattic.net/releases/1369-sylvie

And for the latest rave review, a full-page in the UK Guardian newspaper: http://tinyurl.com/mod4rok

Atlantic crossing

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Hi, Sylvie here, writing this in the back of a New York cab, heading for the airport. I had a fabulous time in NYC. The Radio Silence show was a real treat, especially playing again with my pal Fred Nicolaus of Golden Suits – if you check the videos and links on the Leonard Cohen page you’ll see him performing with me at a whole bunch of shows I did in New York and Brooklyn on the book tour – and, at the end of the show, singing with the great Jim White, someone whose work I’ve admired and written about for many years.
Tomorrow I’ll be in London, seeing friends. Then off to Liverpool for the first gig of the UK tour! From there I’ll be speaking (and of course singing!) at a Leonard Cohen symposium in Winchester. Then back to London for two gigs with Jason McNiff and a bunch of live radio appearances. Check my tour page for details.
Meanwhile here’s a video I made with friends in Virginia City a few weeks ago. Well, really it was them that made it, I just turned up with my uke!

Drop me a line at sylvie@sylviesimmons.com and let me know what you think of it – and what song you’d like to see a video of next. Thanks and see you in London!

From the Secret Alley

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

On a dark street in San Francisco’s Mission District, just a few steps from the fancy restaurants and  bars yet light years away,  a locked, unmarked door leads across a jigsaw-puzzle floor and up  into the Secret Alley. I had never heard of this place until a few days ago when it became the venue for my album launch party.  That wasn’t the original plan – there was talk of doing it in a club in Martinez then that fell through, and so did the second place, an old sailors club down by the bay, But sometimes plans have a way of changing for the better, and nothing could have been more perfect than the Secret Alley. I knew that from the moment I walked past the machine by the entrance that promised to stamp the Lords Prayer on any coin you fed it and into a small,  magical space. A tiny skateboard ramp had been built into one corner, and in the opposite corner a minature marquee, next to a stage. There was also a tree – and a tree-house – and, in the middle of the room,  a wooden swing. And all of this indoors, upstairs, in a room that held maybe 45 or 50 if they didn’t mind sitting up close.

My band that night was Josh Pollock on guitars and a suitcase full of pedals and effects, and Joe Lewis on upright bass and the show was streamed live  on Pressuredrop TV. I’ve been told that the show is going to be edited and archived and they’re going to tell me when it’s up. I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile here’s their event page –  http://pressuredrop.tv/portfolio/sylvie-simmons/ – and some photos

Soundchek


secret alley 4

 

secret alley 2

Today Sylvie’s debut album is released!

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

window

Okay, deep breath, aim the champagne bottle towards the window – no not the window in this photo; I figured an occasion like this called for a glamour shot (or my best equivalent) and a bit of leg. Sylvie here, with an announcement I’ve waited for most of my life to make: my first-ever album is released today!!!!! A huge thank you to my label Light In The Attic Records, and to Howe Gelb and Thoger Lund of Giant Sand, who played on it and to everyone who made this moment possible.

The official album launch show is tomorrow, 12th November at the Secret Alley, a magical little place in the Mission district of  San Francisco. I’ll post some pictures soon! A couple of great S.F musicians will be accompanying me, Josh Pollock on guitars and Joe Lewis on acoustic bass. Please check my tour page for upcoming shows in Santa Rosa, New York City, Liverpool, Winchester, London and more!

And here’s a link to my page on the record company site, if you want to read more about it, hear some snippets of songs and maybe buy a CD or download. (The LP version will come out in a couple of weeks’ time; there’s been a backlog at all the US vinyl pressing plants!)

http://lightintheattic.net/releases/1369-sylvie

Thoughts on the eve of a new album

Friday, November 7th, 2014

It was two and a quarter years ago, with the first edition of I’m Your Man The Life of Leonard Cohen about to come out, when I had the crazy dream of going on the road with my book and a ukulele, reading, talking about Leonard and singing his songs. Taking my uke, if I’m to be honest,  was as much a security blanket as anything else. Writers, especially writers of lengthy books, tend to spend more time alone, sitting and staring at the wall, than standing  in front of  a roomful people pretending they’re not shy. So, at least at the outset, until I gradually got comfortable with performing, my ukulele was  something to hide behind. It was also good company. During the year or so I travelled the world researching and interviewing people for the book, I took the uke with me everywhere, from a seedy rental apartment in Montreal to a hut in the monastery on Mt Baldy. Ukes tend to make you friends – a bit like a puppy, but with nothing to clean up!  The tour – well some of you reading this might have come to one of the shows, either  in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, New Zealand or Australia during 2012-2014.

Today I was deleting a bunch of old files from my computer to try and speed it up, and and I came across this one: a video. A friend had suggested that if I was going to tour, I ought to post a Youtube video. I’d never made  one before so I called my friend Christian, an indie record producer, and asked if he knew someone who could shoot it. One of his artists, Annie Girl, had made an album which featured classical musicians as well as her rock band the Flight; I’d loved that album and had made it my Americana album of the month in MOJO. I asked Christian if he could hire the violin player for my video and I said I’d like to shoot at night, maybe two or three Leonard Cohen songs, me and the violin player in my bedroom. I would call the video  Songs from a Bedroom in tribute to Leonard’s second album.

A few days later he turned up mid-afternoon, on the hottest day of the year, with a video maker and a violin player  – the great Matthew Szemela. But he’d also brought with him a viola player, the brilliant Charith Premawardhana, and a shy young woman with an acoustic guitar who it turned out was Annie Girl. It was the first time I’d met any of them. I swiftly printed off two more chord sheets and we piled into my bedroom, closed the black-out curtain and lit candles to make an artificial night.

Annie sat beside me on the bed, Matthew and Charith sat on the floor, all of us sweating pints from the heat. The next door neighbours had thrown open their windows to let in the sun and were playing Mexican music at full-blast, the bass rattling the candlesticks on my bedside table. I love mariachi, but not so much when trying to record a Leonard Cohen song. So Christian, being fluent in Spanish, went next door to try and quieten things down. Apparently he offered them $50 to turn the music off for an hour. (Memo to self: I.O. Christian 50 bucks.)

And this was the first song we recorded: Famous Blue Raincoat. Just one take. Charith’s viola-playing still gives me goosebumps. As to Matthew’s violin – unbelievable! You might notice in the footage tha his violin solo made me cry; I had to lean my head back and try to get the tears to run back inside my head again before coming back in for the final verse.

Annie, who had never heard of Leonard Cohen before that day, went on to love his songs and play many of them with me on the S.F Bay Area leg of the tour.  We often sit around the apartment and jam- her songs as well as mine. I love her songs. She’s playing electric guitar this days and doing a gig at  the Chapel in San Francisco tomorrow ( Saturday) night;  you should check her out.

Anyway here it is, Leonard Cohen’s mother Masha’s favourite song and mine, my first-ever video, which led to a book tour, which in turn  led to me plucking up the courage to go into a studio and record my own songs and release my debut album on Light In The Attic Records, Sylvie.

I’M YOUR (SLOVENIAN AND FINNISH) MAN!

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Hot off the press: two new translated editions of I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen!

Im your man suojapaperi.indd

The Finnish edition, I’m Your Man: Leonard Cohenin elämä, is published by Sammakko, translated by Jouni Jussila and features a new foreword by Jarkko Arjatsalo of the Leonard Cohen Files.

Slovenia

The Slovenian edition, Pravi Moški Zate: Življenje Leonarda Cohena, was translated by Miha Avanz and Mario Batelić and published by Založba Mladinska Knjiga.

Sylvie’s album – the first reviews!

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Just one week to go till the release of Sylvie’s self-titled album and so far the response been amazing! In the UK, everybody – from cool weekly rock magazine NME to Britain’s biggest daily newspaper The Sun – have given Sylvie rave, four star reviews. MOJO, the UK’s leading music magazine, named it album of the week, while the latest review, from Record Collector, the renowned magazine for serious music lovers, had nothing but praise. [Check Sylvie’s Sounds page for more articles and reviews as we get them.]

Sylvie is released on CD on Nov 11. The vinyl LP will follow on Nov 26. Downloads are available now. Please check the record company website for pre-orders and more information.

RecordCollectorDec14

Record release!!!

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

thumb_325_tmp_2F1406584129656-s1lgcijko7n1att9-fc3b6f2f0bcaf468a745532b0d6364cf_2FLITA122_SylvieSimmons_SylviejpgSylvie has signed a recording contract with Light In The Attic – the renowned US record label that’s released albums by legendary musicians including Jane Birkin, Serge Gainsbourg, Lee Hazlewood, Karen Dalton, Rodriguez, Mercury Rev and  Kris Kristofferson! They will release her debut album  -Sylvie  – on 28th October in the US, UK and Europe. The  album – 11 original songs and one cover song-  was recorded at Wavelab Studio in Tucson, Arizona with Howe Gelb of Giant Sand producing.  Here’s a peek inside at the lyrics booklet.Sylvie cd InsertAnd here’s what some celebrated names are saying about it: “Fragile and fearless, direct and poetic, timeless and absolutely beautiful.”  -Devendra Banhart

“Sweet music just like Sylvie.” – Brian Wilson

“A lovely voice, a unique voice, the kind of voice that people will get into- that they’ll want to get into.” -Bob Johnston (producer of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash)

And here’s a song to listen to.

 

Maybe it’s the time of man

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Happy birthday Woodstock. I was a kid in London when you were busy being stardust and golden. I’d never been to America – never been anywhere farther than Boulogne on the ferry – but as soon as I got home from school and out of my uniform, I’d float around in a kaftan and wish I was a hippie.

Here’s a conversation I had with Neil Young about it a while back.

 

Sylvie: Would you have gone to Woodstock as a punter if you hadn’t actually been playing?

Neil: No, never, no.

Sylvie: What do you remember about it?

Neil: It was like a migration – I don’t know what to compare it to. We thought it was the first time we’d seen the group of people that we kind of knew, that we met around the country – the heads, the hippies, whatever – the first time that we’d seen them all come into one area and you could feel the strength of the numbers. But corporate America was watching too. And it was a lot of confused travelling, nervous people, a lot of different people going back and forth and kind of on-the-spot plans being made.

Sylvie: And your set?

Neil: We were nervous- it was like our second show or something – and I was especially nervous because I didn’t know the rhythm section that well and we really didn’t have that much of a groove.

Sylvie: Is that why you didn’t want to be filmed?

Neil: I didn’t allow myself to be filmed because I didn’t want them on the stage. Because we were playing music – get away, don’t be in my way, I don’t want to see your cameras. I don’t want to see you. To me it was a distraction from making music, and music is something you listen to, not that you look at. So you’re there, trying to get lost in the music, and there’s this dickhead with a camera in your face. So the only way to make sure that wouldn’t happen is to tell them I wouldn’t be in the film so avoid me, stay away from my area. And that worked.

Sylvie: A bit rum coming from someone who’s just made a concert movie!

Neil: All the shooting that we did [for that], you don’t see cameras around, there’s nobody in front of us, and if they are it’s not for long.

Sylvie: You the only one in Crosby Stills Nash & Young who didn’t want to be filmed.

Neil: I was the only person in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young that was, you know, not Crosby Stills and Nash!

Sylvie: Didn’t you and Jimi Hendrix steal a pickup truck backstage and go joyriding?

Neil: You know, to tell you truth it’s been so long since it happened…

Sylvie: Hah! It wasn’t me, Officer’

Neil: [Laughs] It probably was me. I seem to remember a pick-up truck somewhere and Hendrix being nearby and something happening. Hendrix is the best, nobody can touch him. I’m a hack compared to him, a hack. That guy — it slipped off his hands, he couldn’t help himself. I’ve got to go in there and hack away with a machete to get through what he just walked through. I can aspired to be able to play that way and to approach it sometimes, so I’d get half way there sometimes; but when it comes to really playing, I mean, I’ve got a lot of emotion and very little technical ability. Jimi had them both. He was so smooth and so great and so special.

Meanwhile, here’s a band that didn’t ask to be left out of the Woodstock movie, but they were.

 

Maybe it’s the time of man

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Happy birthday Woodstock. I was a kid in London when you were busy being stardust and golden. I’d never been to America – never been anywhere farther than Boulogne on the ferry – but as soon as I got home from school and out of my uniform, I’d float around in a kaftan and wish I was a hippie.

Here’s a conversation I had with Neil Young about it a while back.

 

Sylvie: Would you have gone to Woodstock as a punter if you hadn’t actually been playing?

Neil: No, never, no.

Sylvie: What do you remember about it?

Neil: It was like a migration – I don’t know what to compare it to. We thought it was the first time we’d seen the group of people that we kind of knew, that we met around the country – the heads, the hippies, whatever – the first time that we’d seen them all come into one area and you could feel the strength of the numbers. But corporate America was watching too. And it was a lot of confused travelling, nervous people, a lot of different people going back and forth and kind of on-the-spot plans being made.

Sylvie: And your set?

Neil: We were nervous- it was like our second show or something – and I was especially nervous because I didn’t know the rhythm section that well and we really didn’t have that much of a groove.

Sylvie: Is that why you didn’t want to be filmed?

Neil: I didn’t allow myself to be filmed because I didn’t want them on the stage. Because we were playing music – get away, don’t be in my way, I don’t want to see your cameras. I don’t want to see you. To me it was a distraction from making music, and music is something you listen to, not that you look at. So you’re there, trying to get lost in the music, and there’s this dickhead with a camera in your face. So the only way to make sure that wouldn’t happen is to tell them I wouldn’t be in the film so avoid me, stay away from my area. And that worked.

Sylvie: A bit rum coming from someone who’s just made a concert movie!

Neil: All the shooting that we did [for that], you don’t see cameras around, there’s nobody in front of us, and if they are it’s not for long.

Sylvie: You the only one in Crosby Stills Nash & Young who didn’t want to be filmed.

Neil: I was the only person in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young that was, you know, not Crosby Stills and Nash!

Sylvie: Didn’t you and Jimi Hendrix steal a pickup truck backstage and go joyriding?

Neil: You know, to tell you truth it’s been so long since it happened…

Sylvie: Hah! It wasn’t me, Officer’

Neil: [Laughs] It probably was me. I seem to remember a pick-up truck somewhere and Hendrix being nearby and something happening. Hendrix is the best, nobody can touch him. I’m a hack compared to him, a hack. That guy — it slipped off his hands, he couldn’t help himself. I’ve got to go in there and hack away with a machete to get through what he just walked through. I can aspired to be able to play that way and to approach it sometimes, so I’d get half way there sometimes; but when it comes to really playing, I mean, I’ve got a lot of emotion and very little technical ability. Jimi had them both. He was so smooth and so great and so special.

Meanwhile, here’s a band that didn’t ask to be left out of the Woodstock movie, but they were.