a world of melancholia and penetrating songs comes Sugarplum Fairies,
who are simply one of the best alt rock acts in the world right now,
Silvia: My songwriting partner Benny also happens to be my husband so we do get along pretty well :)
We met back in Vienna, Europe, through a radio DJ . At that time I was working as a journalist doing the occasional lyrics for a couple of musician friends while Benny was in a German New Wave band and signed to a major label.
retrospect, when we started writing together, there wasn’t an immediate
artistic chemistry between the two of us; it actually took us quite a
while to find our own style. We had totally contrary musical influences
in the beginning. Benny was more into Britpop and the Beatles whereas I
liked weird and depressing stuff but we both kept an open mind and
managed to melt it all together (at least I hope so).
Scott: I totally love your lyrics, so many lines are like big ideas in themselves. "You're bruisin' my time" "And my tinsel trimmed dreams are reigned by crayon colored kings" Do you remember where you were when you wrote Fade Away ? Do your songs when you listen remind you of situations, incidents in your life and are there any that come to mind with interesting stories behind them ?
Silvia: “Fade Away” was written when we used to live in Topanga Canyon, a small artist community outside Los Angeles. I was trying to fall asleep but was still upset about something my mum had just said over the phone (I can’t remember what it was) so I started writing...
regards to lyrics there’s kind of a contradiction in the way I approach
them. On one hand they draw on personal experience or observations but
I tend to use words in a rather abstract way (often to the point of
fragmentation) that naturally leaves space for a variety of
interpretations. Also, since English is not my first language, I often
combine words in unconventional ways which sometimes results in people
thinking that my lyrics are “deep” even though they might just be
Scott: I noticed somewhere you listed your influences as the Velvet Underground and the Beatles. This struck a note in me because I notice a very Beatleesque element in your songs, they are such perfect creations, I'm so jealous. heh Anyway I was wondering about how the songs were crafted, they seem to be the kind that may have been written and evolved over years. Is your process fast, or slow, varied or is there a specific way the 2 of you write them ? Do they come out in bunches or one at a time ?
About our compositional style: We work completely separately and have
rather different approaches . Benny constantly writes new songs in
whatever environment he’s in whereas I need to be in total seclusion to
write lyrics. The way it works is that Benny lays down some rough
melody tracks with nonsense lyrics and then I sit down and stare at the
wall for a few hours and hopefully come up with some meaningful words.
Scott: ok, if there's a central theme to the songs I've heard, there's a sadness, a jadedness. I relate to it in a deep way. But the songs end up making me feel good. I feel it in my bones that there is so much joy in the music for you. I hope this doesn't come out funny but does it make you happy to be sad ?
I guess it’s kind of a European thing – to dwell in your sadness and
actually kind of embrace it. That’s one thing that I noticed moving to
the US – people here seem to be in constant pursuit of happiness.
Sadness is probably not the right word though; I’d rather call it
Scott: This one is a music business question. How much does it affect you and your partner knowing that one could go a year without hearing anything as good as most of your songs on mainstream radio (well in my opinion heh) yet that garbage is what the world gets stuck hearing and not Touchdown or Fly or Kraft Paperbag #2 for instance ? Does it make any sense to you ? Does it make you angry that the true cream doesn't rise to the top ?
Well, I think the music industry is in kind of a turmoil right now and
it’s going to be very interesting to see how things will evolve a
couple of years from now. Yes, of course it sucks that we’re not being
played on commercial radio but I think it would hurt a lot more if we
were signed to a major label, finish a CD and then being told by the
label that they’re not going to release it because it’s not “radio
friendly” (see Wilco & Fiona Apple). I would totally go berserk
if that would happen to me, having poured all my energy and soul into
the recording just to find out that it will never see the light of
day....Having said that, yes, it makes me angry that “the true cream
doesn’t rise to the top”. There’s a lot of brilliant bands out there
that are never going to be heard just because they don’t have the
financial means to do a grande promotional campaign or who are not
pretty or young enough to generate interest from the media.
Scott: Do you have any live recordings, I would so love to hear them. ok, that question was a selfish one. :) Let me try a different one.. Another side theme I noticed running thru your music is this back and forth between freedom and security.. In Flake you seem to crave the freedom but in Touchdown or Fly you question it. Where are you at now in your life, is it cyclic or have you focused in on one or the other as your preference ?
Silvia: No, we don’t have any live recordings whatsoever. Quite frankly, I hate playing live, I just don’t see myself as an entertainer plus I think our style of music has more of a solitary nature anyway.
regards to freedom vs. security: It’s still cyclic and if it would not
be that way then I don’t think I’d have enough ammunition to write
Scott: Do you believe in UFOs and have you had any life experiences of high strangeness ?
Hmm, that’s a tough one...Never really thought about UFOs, never really
saw one but always having a multitude of life experiences of high
Scott: ok, I know this is kind of too broad of a question but can you describe in so many words how your childhood contributed to where you are now, writing these deep, amazing songs ?
Silvia: Well, I think my childhood is the main
reason why I write these songs. I was born into a dynasty of cleaning
ladies and my mum had absolutely no appreciation whatsoever of the arts
or music. Going to college equaled being too lazy to work so of course
I was determined to get my master’s degree in philosophy and then
decide to become a musician :)