Sylvie's Songs feat Amanda Sullivan - 10 Questions Music Interview
Sylvie's Songs aka Sylvie Abate grew up listening to her father play popular music on an electric organ. After trying the organ, she switched to guitar and took lessons throughout her teens. Sylvie holds a Bachelor Degree in Guitar Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. Many of her original songs incorporate finger-style guitar playing. Sylvie's Songs has over 45,000 song plays on Reverbnation, the world's leading digital music distributor. Several songs have aired on college radio (70 stations) across the United States "Yellow Flashing Lights" was aired on Woman of Substance Radio's "Me Too" special and "Pretty Words" was chosen for the National Missing Persons Gina Songwriting Contest. "Roots Run Deep" aired on National Indie Radio's "HerStory" and "Roots & Wings" programs. “Indecision” has aired nationally on 66 cable TV channels and was also distributed by Euro Indie Weekly where it was aired on TV throughout Europe.
Sylvie's Songs collaborates with Amanda Sullivan who is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and songwriter. Amanda is also a trained classical guitarist with a degree from the Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford. Amanda Sullivan is the vocalist on Pretty Words. Sylvie's Songs fest Amanda Sullivan will be featured on BWH Music Group’s ‘On Peace Street,’ a compilation album featuring 19 songs about peace and social justice.
What is the name of the song you have on Peace Street?
The name of my song is Pretty Words. What is the inspiration behind your song? Or, what is the song about? Pretty Words is about emotional abuse. Emotional may involve criticizing, name calling, humiliating, insulting, belittling, and much more. The song describes the honeymoon period in the cycle of relationship abuse. In the honeymoon period, the abuser is ashamed of their behavior. They express remorse. They may exhibit loving, kind behavior followed by apologies, generosity and helpfulness.
"Pretty Words" describes this stage of abuse where the victim is controlled by the hope and promise of empty "pretty words." The abuse may be terrible, but the promises during the honeymoon phase gives the victim the false belief that everything will be all right. "I want who you are now."
How did you write your featured song? Or, can you describe your songwriting process?
Who are your major music influences?
I am a lyricist first. I start with an idea based on a personal experience - a poem about a personal experience. I jot down the words using a pencil. I like scratching, erasing, crumpling and tossing. I work on the poem until it takes the shape of a few verses, a chorus. and a bridge. After the poem is sketched, I strum chords on my guitar to find a key/sound that matches the emotion or mood of my words. After I find the key, I try different melodies. If it's right, I know it immediately. It is one of the closest things to magic I've experienced.
When you wrote this song, did you have a goal in mind? For example, were you trying to raise awareness about an issue that’s close to your heart? Yes, my goal was to have a voice and to raise awareness about emotional abuse. I have experienced severe emotional abuse in my life. This led to post traumatic stress syndrome. After being in several relationships with emotionally abusive, personality disordered women, I came to realize that during those periods in my life, my voice was negated and isolated through daily criticism, humiliation, gas-lighting, silent treatments, name calling, "joking," spying, financial control, jealousy, rages, and more. It has been many years, and now that I am in a good place, I knew it was important to get my voice out as the final stage of the healing process. Many of the songs were written between 2012-2016 during the abuse.
"Pretty Words" was released in advance of the concept album, I Walk Out Of The Fog. The title, Walk OUT of the FOG, is based on the acronym F.O.G. which stands for Fear, Obligation, and Guilt. The term FOG was first coined by Susan Forward and Donna Frazier in the book Emotional Blackmail and describes feelings that a person often has when in a relationship with someone who has a personality disorder. Through eight songs, I tell my story of emotional abuse and recovery. Four songs have been released including "Pretty Words", "Flashing Yellow Lights", "Indecision", and "Roots Run Deep." There will be eight songs on the album: (1) Beautiful Disaster, (2) Indecision, (3) Yellow Flashing Lights, (4) Pretty Words, (5) Honey You Lie, (6) Roots Run Deep, (7) Broken Year, and (8) You Can't Take My Voice Away.
The larger goal was to raise awareness of abuse in LGBTQ relationships. Because the majority of the domestic violence awareness movement and relationship abuse awareness is focused on heterosexual relationships, members of the LGBTQ are even further isolated.
How did you get started in music?
I grew up listening to my father play popular music on an electric organ. After trying the organ, I switched to guitar and took lessons throughout my childhood and teens. I went on to study classical guitar at the Hartt School of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music. I hold a Bachelor Degree in Guitar Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. Many of my original songs incorporate finger-style guitar playing.
Of all the songs you’ve written, what was the most challenging and why?
I don't struggle to write songs. When they are ready, they just appear. The songs on this album, however, were emotionally challenging to share with others.
How do you think music help promote world peace and social justice? Do you have a favorite social justice song? Whenever people have a voice - that is power. Every voice counts and every voice can change the world. Music is one way to share your voice.
I have a lot of favorite social justice songs. I am a huge Bob Dylan fan as I adore his poetry. "A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall" and "The Times They are Changin' " are favorites. Right now, with the despicable language and actions around Immigration, "This Land is Your Land" by Woodie Guthrie resonates.
What’s coming up in the future?
I am finishing my concept album, "I Walk Out of The Fog." I am working with Amanda Sullivan and we have two songs being released in the beginning of the New Year. I hope to have the album completed in 2020 along with videos and a large pr campaign.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
All information can be found on my website.