Sugarplum Fairies - Maybe the rain                                             must fall

From 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, period.

These songs are just so catchy and perfect that they feel like they've been around forever. Distinctive, one-of-a-kind. I first heard Kraft Paperbag #2 on another site, and just melted, then heard Sugarfree and Touchdown or Fly and it just totally amazes me how superb artists like these aren't household names. Sugarplum Fairies are made up of Silvia Ryder who sings and writes the lyrics, and Ben Bohm, who lays out the musical landscapes for their songs - along with a cast of changing characters. They are the meeting place between the Velvet Underground and the Beatles.

Silvia's lyrics are just so honest, she has such a way with words, seemingly every song contains phrases of brilliant complexity. What's so captivating is that you just know no one but her could sing these songs, they are completely original entities, delivered with the intangible warmth of Silvia's soulful voice. Anyway, Sugarplum Fairies have received considerable airplay on college stations and these songs are so memorable that it's only a matter of time til the world knows about them.

The even better news is that they have a new CD coming later this year, being recorded with Ken Coomer of Wilco fame. Their fans are very excited about what's coming next for these gifted songwriters. And recently SP became the first IAC band to have 3 Top 5 songs in the Kayak Big 50, no easy feat! :) Anyway, Silvia is one of the few artists I've ever come in contact with that I'm overtly in awe of, as their songs have become.. well.. part of my world. Anyway I recently had the honor of asking Silvia about some things i was curious about..


Scott: ok, where to start.. How did you and your partner meet ? Do you get along good or is it a volatile thing, enquiring minds want to know ? :)

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.

In 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...

In 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 accidental.

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 ?

Silvia: 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 ?

Silvia: 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 melancholy.

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 ?

Silvia: 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.

In 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 songs....

Scott: Do you believe in UFOs and have you had any life experiences of high strangeness ?

Silvia: 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 strangeness.

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 :)

Sugarplum Fairies