Cultural touchstones with the American artist...

SYML has always been fascinated by his roots, with a sense of cultural heritage.

A gifted songwriter, he used his base 20 miles outside of Seattle a point for excursion, a point to explore both inner and outer landscapes.

His debut album lands on May 3rd, and it follows the astonishing viral impact of those early singles, so graceful and so universal.

Curiously, SYML has a connection to Wales - pronounced “simmel,” the name means “simple” in Welsh.

The child of a closed adoption, the songwriter uncovered his Welsh roots as an adult, just before embarking on the project.

A songwriter who delves deeper than most, Clash linked with SYML to discuss his cultural touchstones...

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Book... Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

This book is as informative as it is mind blowing. It leaves as many questions unanswered as it seeks to answer. On one hand, humans are this insignificant blip on the timeline of the earth, not to mention the universe. On the other, we are these freakish and beautiful creatures that have no right to be as we are.

There is no ultimate answer when it comes to the “why” in our existence, but this book does a great job at explaining the “how”. It sounds a bit cheesy, but it was refreshing to be reminded that we, as humans, are much more similar than different.

Also, we should have died off so many times and it seems like we are hellbent on making sure that happens.

TV Show... Black Mirror

I know I’m not alone in my obsession with this show because I love gushing about it whenever it comes up in conversation. Black Mirror’s main theme, a dystopian view of the world and society centred around technology, is timely and inspirational.

The fact that so many people resonate with this show is telling. There is something dark that is nagging at us throughout these fast paced and exciting times. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the show is beautifully shot and carefully curated and directed.

I think it’s fascinating that people, including myself, are obsessed with the undoing of humanity. Black Mirror scratches that itch.

Film... Love Liza

This is one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s best performances. I think it’s technically considered a dark comedy, but I find it to be so much more. It is a beautiful take on the human experience when it comes to loss.

It certainly uses humor, but it also addresses things like addiction and the impossible journey to answer unanswerable questions. This film has inspired more than a handful of my songs. I suggest this movie to everyone because it is so sad and strangely peaceful.

Album... James Blake's 'Assume Form'

I am currently obsessed with James Blake’s new album. On first listen it sounds happy, especially for him. After spending more time with it, I started to feel uneasy and a bit drunk, but still happy. This is a great album for headphones on a plane as you are going to see, or leaving, someone you love.

One of my favourite songs is the last one, 'Lullaby For My Insomniac' (which sounds like a Radiohead title). This album features his voice more prominently than his others, which is welcomed, but he doesn’t skimp on the left-of-centre soundscapes and production. I don’t think this album ever “arrives”, if that makes sense, and I love that.

Gadget...

I just got a new software instrument that is very fun. A company called Output makes a variety of software based production tools, one of which is called Arcade. Within Arcade there are many worlds within worlds to inspire artists to create.

One of those worlds is called The Crate. It’s basically a huge collection of royalty-free samples from old vinyl. I will be the first to admit that I don’t have the willpower and dedication to dig through record crates to find and build my own sample library, so I’m incredibly thankful that someone has done this for me.

Purists might hate it, but fuck a purist. Who cares how you write a song, just write a song.

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SYML will release his self-titled debut album on May 3rd. Catch the songwriter at the following shows:

October
25 Brighton The Haunt
26 Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
27 Manchester Band on a Wall
29 London Scala

Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez

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