Sylvie Interview in ChartAttack October 27th, 2008

Head over to for full interview.

by Shawn Despres
October 24, 2008

Sylvie’s third full-length Trees And Shade Are Our Only Fences has a lot to live up to. The Regina quintet’s 2003 debut, I Wish I Was Driving, received a nomination for outstanding album of the year at the Western Canadian Music Awards (WCMA). Their top-notch sophomore effort, An Electric Trace, garnered more accolades and netted the act the CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award in 2006.

Recently released by Smallman Records, the new album was recorded by J. Robbins (Against Me!, Jawbreaker) at his Baltimore, Md. studio over the course of three weeks in August 2007.

ChartAttack caught up with bassist Riva Farrell Racette for a chat about the disc and why it’s oh so important to pack your own stuff when traveling.

ChartAttack: What was working with J. Robbins like?
From bands that J. has been a part of [Jawbox, Channels] and being fans of records he had produced we knew he would be perfect for us and we were right. Recording with J. was the best thing to ever happen to any of us. It honestly was a dream come true. Simply hearing back from him was a thrill, not to mention that he actually liked our music. That in itself was quite validating.

We drove down to the studio in three days and stayed in a nearby apartment. There are no words to express the impact the entire experience had on us; from the drive down, to living in Baltimore, to going to the studio every day to work with J.

What are some of your more lasting memories from the sessions?
How’s this for the most awkward situation ever? I wasn’t present when all our gear was packed for the trip to Baltimore. I think I was packing and cleaning the house at the last minute or something typical like that. We get to the studio, start setting up our gear and I can’t find my bass anywhere. I search around in silent panic, but was finally forced to approach J. sheepishly and tell him that my bass was in Regina. It was the worst thing to be in my hero’s studio, and essentially unprepared. He was really understanding and it turned out well. I got to use his wife Janet Morgan’s bass on the recording and it sounded stellar.

I also remember J. asking Jeff [Romanyk] if he could tune his drums. Jeff was like “Hell yeah, J. Robbins can tune my drums,” and kept saying “J. Robbins is totally tuning my drums right now.” They sounded wicked.

Was there anything that you wanted to do differently from past releases with the writing and recording of Trees And Shade Are Our Only Fences?
From my perspective, I would say no. I think for sure we wanted to keep the integrity of our voices and instruments while recording. J. really hoped to get as much as he could from live takes, which didn’t always pan out, but was a goal nonetheless. When I close my eyes to listen to this record, I can picture a band actually playing. Not just instruments and vocal parts to songs.

An Electric Trace helped you capture the CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award. Do you think Trees And Shades Are Our Only Fences can score the band next year’s Polaris Prize and the $20,000 that comes with it?
Do you think this record could win us the Polaris prize? If so, that’d be sweet. We have paid out of pocket and beyond for this record and other band related stuff. If we won the prize, we would pay some band debts to get our heads above water again.

What are three reasons why all Canadian music fans should listen to Trees And Shades Are Our Only Fences when it comes out in October?
Never mind listen — friggin’ buy the thing! First, it’s really good, for real. Second, it’s a definite progression from the previous record, not just the same formulas for similar songs. Third, it would help us to keep up with this craft.

Category: Sylvie