Q&A with Sir Sly
by Terence Cawley (Biology), published October 8th 2014
photos by Seb Herforth
On Sept. 12, Los Angeles-based alt-pop band Sir Sly came to Brighton Music Hall to tease their debut record, You Haunt Me, and deliver a devastating cover of the Drake classic “Marvin’s Room.” Before the show, Landon Jacobs and Hayden Coplen of Sir Sly found some time to answer Tastemakers’ questions.
Tastemakers Magazine (TMM): Your debut album, You Haunt Me, is being released soon. Why did you pick that title for the album?
Landon Jacobs (LJ): That phrase is the pre-chorus of the title track, and from the moment we wrote those lyrics we felt that they were special and that they summed up the central theme of the album.
TMM: So what themes, lyrically or musically, were you as a band trying to express with the new album?
LJ: At the center of the album are ideas about relationships and how different parts of life affect your ability to hold onto or let go of those relationships.
TMM: You’re currently on a club tour co-headlining with Wolf Gang. How does playing as a headliner compare to playing as an opening act or at festivals?
Hayden Coplen: Headlining is special, because the fans are there to see you, by process of elimination. It’s really cool, and one thing I never expected is that crowd quality is much more important than quantity. I’d much rather play for 40 people going nuts than for 40,000 people who can’t be bothered.
TMM: You recently put a cover of Arcade Fire’s “Afterlife” online and have previously covered “Marvin’s Room” by Drake. Why have you chosen those songs to cover?
LJ: We covered “Marvin’s Room” because we’d all heard that song a bunch in the tour van while setting up our gear. It’s a good song, and it’s so different from what we do, which made covering it fun. “Afterlife” we covered because the lyrics felt special, like the kind of thing I wish I could have written. So putting a Sir Sly spin on it seemed enjoyable. The original version is so different from our version; making the song slower really brought the lyrics out.
TMM: Your music has this sort of dark yet laid-back sound which has earned you comparisons to bands like The Neighbourhood. How much has the modern music scene been an influence on the development of your sound?
HC: I think the reason why modern music sounds like that is because of the merging of electronic music with live instrumentation, so anytime someone uses synthesizers they’re going to get that comparison. We’ve been inspired by that sound, but I still think we’ve managed to make something unique to ourselves. The Neighbourhood has more of a hip-hop, R&B feel, while we have a more 90’s rock-esque sound. Like Miike Snow, more upbeat.
TMM: Why did you choose to make Sir Sly an anonymous project at the band’s start, and why did you eventually decide to go public?
HC: We didn’t tell people our names at first because we sent our music to a friend with a blog, and we didn’t want him to post it out of bias because we were his friends. We wanted to see if he actually liked our music, and as it turns out he liked it. Then we went public by showing pictures of ourselves – we didn’t want to make a bio until we had a good photo.
TMM: Do you have any plans after this tour? Writing new music, more touring?
HC: A little of both. The album’s just coming out so we’ll be touring on that for a while, hopefully getting more people to show up. The single most important thing for us is writing new songs, so we’ll be trying to grow as artists and write songs for the next record.