The toughest part is over for Ruth Mirsky and her band, Syvia. With the first two singles off their forthcoming full-length debut album FWD already released and getting plenty of raves, the Brooklyn quartet can now exhale.
“We were a little nervous about whether people would get what we’re trying to do or not, and just the response that I’ve gotten from friends and people in the music industry that I’ve known for a while, it’s been really humbling to see that people get it and people are noticing that we’re trying to do something a little different, and it’s been really wonderful,” she said. “We’re all relieved and very happy and excited to have a full album that we’re ready to share. It feels really good.”
It should, and it’s praise well-deserved. Singles “Two Homes” and “Soon” are vastly different in approach, but both sound like the same band, which is high praise for any group trying to separate themselves from the pack while not trying to get too cutesy about it. Described as everything from electropop to punk to rock, Syvia has found a way to match a bunch of different sounds into a collective that works as an original unit. Not that it was an easy task for Chinatown native Mirsky, who has seen Syvia as a work in progress since 2011, before eventually finding the right lineup with Sheldon Chow (bass / synth), Frank Banisi (guitar), and Richard Moyle Jr. (drums).
“This band has just been wonderful,” Mirsky said. “They’re kind of like my crazy family. We’re all really close friends, we’re very interconnected and I think that really plays out in the music. You can feel the comfort level that we all have with each other and the love. In the way that we’ve approached the band and the music it’s ‘let’s just make music that we love – that we love to play and what we would want to hear. And even if it’s not trendy now, we’re okay with that. We’re okay with not being the latest hyped band, and we want to be proud of what we put out there and feel good about it, and I think that’s always the way we’ve gone about it. Maybe it won’t be mainstream, maybe it won’t be the biggest thing ever, but it’s something we’re real proud of and happy about it. And that’s always the most important thing.”
That’s almost the way it has to be in a New York scene not only overflowing with bands, but that will already have a built-in prejudice against it simply because of geographic location. In other words, it’s cool to hate NYC just because it’s NYC. So if you’re going to take those slings and arrows, you better love what you do.
“I think there’s definitely an over saturation of New York bands, and it’s not going to help us by any means,” Mirsky laughs. “But I am very much a New Yorker, so I can’t help that that’s going to be part of the story. I think you avoid it (the backlash) by just focusing on the music. The city definitely affects everyone who lives here. You have to have a certain solid character and wall of armor to be here, especially to try and do music now in a city that’s so expensive. So you have to try to make the best music you can, regardless of where you are and what you think people are going to think about it.”
Of course, that’s the most New York of New York attitudes to have, the idea that hey, we’re going to do our thing and if you like it, great; if not, don’t listen. But if listeners do decide to listen to Syvia, they will be pleasantly surprised. As for the hardcores, they already know, as they’ve already heard the collection of songs from FWD in the clubs in and around NYC.
“We have been, technically, leaking it (FWD) out every time we play,” Mirsky said. “If people come to our shows, they know the songs. If you’ve been in New York and have been checking out our shows, you know all the songs that are on that album, and in fact, we’ve already started playing our new ones that will be the next album that we’ll be trying to work on. We’re not stopping our writing just because we haven’t released an album yet.”
As for that album, scheduled for early-2015 release, the key for Mirsky was that the songs weren’t just great studio tracks, but songs that could be replicated live. That wasn’t always the case in the past, but now, if Syvia can’t play it live, it won’t be on an album.
“I always had this issue where we would write music in the studio and it would sound fantastic and minimal and very electronic and beautiful,” she said. “But when it came to live shows, it was frustrating because you had to recreate the sound and figure out how we were going to do this live, make it interesting and true to the sound and not feel like we’re playing karaoke. I wanted to move away from that even being an issue, and what we’ve done with the band is that it’s electronic, it’s rock, it’s shoegaze, it’s punk, it’s all of this stuff, but whatever we play on our album is what we play live.”
Get ready world, Syvia is coming.