The electro-pop duo known as Sylvan Esso have steadily become one of the more popular names in the indie music scene over the past few years. Comprised of electronic musician/producer Nick Sanborn and singer Amelia Meath, the collaboration between the two performers has taken them from recording songs in Sanborn’s bedroom to becoming lineup staples at pop music festivals around the country. The duo took a big step forward early on with breakthrough singles like “Hey Mami" and "Coffee," which earned them plenty of popularity in the indie playlist circuit. Sanborn and Meath followed up a breakout year in 2015 with their highly covered sophomore release, What Now.
As a duo, Sylvan Esso are still a relatively young act. The discography section on their Spotify and Wikipedia pages only have a pair of albums to their name and they’re still at the point in their careers where many fans of the indie-pop genre may have no idea what their music sounds like. So for those who still aren’t sure about Sylvan Esso, or still have no idea who they are (that’s okay, too), here are five things you may not have known about one of the premier acts in the synth-pop realm.
1. Meath and Sanborn were both in different bands when they initially met
Sylvan Esso is a relatively new project and didn’t come to fruition until 2013. Before that, Sanborn was already busy performing under the name Made of Oak, while Meath was part of an indie-folk a capella trio called Mountain Man. The two initially met at a concert in Milwaukee, when both of them were part of the same billing. According to Meath, she knew they could be friends as soon as she saw Sanborn performing, “because of the way he danced while he was playing.”
2. The band’s smaller equipment inventory allowed them to tour lightly at first
Anyone who has ever seen Sylvan Esso perform live knows that they don’t exactly require the need for a ton of equipment on stage. With Meath needing only a microphone and Sanborn using a laptop and a few synths, they didn’t need anyone helping them out on the road during their first few tours together. “We’ve just recently expanded to having a tour manager, but before that, it was just us in a Prius,” Meath said in a 2014 interview. “Hauling our gear and merch for the load-in at gigs only took two trips. It’s so simple.”
3. Meath moved all the way from Brooklyn to Durham, NC so she could work and write with Sanborn
The two members of Sylvan Esso really began working together when Meath sent Sandborn the stems to a song of hers that she wanted to have remixed. When the idea of them collaborating on more than just one song began to take shape, she would fly from her home in Brooklyn to Durham, N.C. to just record a bunch of vocals. She eventually moved down there in 2013, and “[they’ve] just been working even more since then,” Sanborn said in a past interview.
4. Meath was quite surprised with how well Sanborn did a remixing her songs, considering they were only digital pen-pals at the time
Meath and Sanborn met during a show in which they were both billed on, and bonded over ridiculous dance moves. Prior to them really working together, Meath had requested that Sanborn work on a remix to a song of the other band she was in at the time. Meath eventually would admit that she was completely surprised by how well it all worked out, considering requests like that don’t usually turn out to well in her experience. “I asked him to make a Mountain Man remix, and then he actually did a good job - which is very rare with remixes, particularly people that you don’t know that well,” she said in an interview a few years ago. “Nick and I were Internet friends, but we weren’t actually really ‘friends’ yet. So the fact that he even did it, first and foremost, and then the fact that it was good - it made it obvious that there was more to explore.”
5. Their band name comes from a video game
Band names are one of the few exceptions in today’s society where there doesn’t really need to be any logical explanation for why it’s chosen. Even their bigger fans may not know that the name Sylvan Esso was pulled from the "Swords and Sorcery" video game… at least, according to the band. “There is a game, made by Super Bros. called ‘Sword And Sorcery.’ It’s an amazing game, Jim Guthrie did the soundtrack and the world is really lovely. Either way, in the game, if you are doing well, you meet a Sylvan Sprite. We named ourselves after them.”
Fans can catch Sylvan Esso when the two head out on their North American spring-into-summer tour starting on March 17. Tickets to select shows on the tour are on sale now, and can be purchased by clicking here.