20Syl is not just another French DJ hoping to buck the odds. He’s been around for the past couple of decades, under a variety of aliases, involved in a multitude of bands, one amongst the select nonpareils of electronic music today. He’s returning with a brand new EP called Motifs II, a serious blend of hip-hop, jazz and vintage sounds, one cleverly crafted ensemble.
Thanks to Sylvain / 20Syl
Thanks to Xavier C.
Patricia Tavares De Oliveira
The thing I like with this EP series is that there is no pressure with it, we do it by ourselves with On And On Records, small team, short timings between creation and release date. It’s not the same process when you’re working on an LP, with this kind of short project, the songs still feel « fresh » when we put it out.
Is this new EP Motifs II an extension, a sequel to 2014 Motifs?
Yes, it’s the new episode, same concept but different feelings and inspiration. I’ve tried different things on this one, I’m being a little bit less technical and more emotional.
How does your work as a solo artist differ from your collaborative
efforts? And what are some of the recurring motifs that can be found in your work as a whole?
My work on Motifs is really different from C2C & Hocus Pocus, I’m doing almost everything by myself, recording and mixing. When we were working together on C2C album, the four of us were on the same level in the creation process, it was a challenge every day to agree on every aspect of the tracks but this is what makes Tetra Album so special I think.
With those EPs I’m exploring very personal themes and feelings, not the kind of elements I could bring to the table with C2C or HP.
In addition to being a DJ and rapper, you’re also a graphic designer.
The music video for “Back & Forth” illustrates your passion for the graphic arts. Do you find music and art to be indivisible? How do they interplay?
I think I really need both creative disciplines, there’s some kind of balance between producing tracks and working on visuals. Sometimes I can work for a week/month straight on a lot of different tracks, in the end I feel quite empty on this side, so I have to find another way to fulfill my thirst for creation.
Concerning Back & Forth Video, Porthé directed it on his own, the idea came from him, we just exchanged a lot together to synchronise perfectly music and motion.
You’re known to be a prolific artist and you’ve been involved in quite a number of projects over the past two decades or so. What motivates you?
As I said before, creation is a fundamental need for me. If I didn’t make something, I don’t feel well at the end of the day.
Any artist you haven’t collaborated with and would love to be given the chance?
The impossible list ! If I had to choose « new » artists I would say Nai Palm from Hiatus Kayote, Unknown Mortal Orchestra. If I had to choose a « classic » I would say Stevie Wonder.
Your EP features a wealth of sonorities and musical styles, hip-hop, jazz, electro to name a few who, would you say, you’ve been the most influenced by?
My mentors as a producer are Dj Premier & Dilla. When I listen back to my first beats, it really sounds like fake primo/dilla productions, but sounds cool too émoticône wink I’ve really found my style when I’ve started mixing it with real instruments with Hocus Pocus (cf. my beat Making video on Youtube) and later with electronic sounds for C2C.
What does 20Syl stand for?
My real name : Sylvain, pronounced in french Seel-vain, « vain » =
« Vingt » = 20 in french, you reverse it and you’ve got it : 20 – Syl émoticône wink
You’re part of a movement of young talented French DJs who’ve made quite an impact on the international scene, what is it with the French and electronic music? What do they bring to the table?
I think French artists have this organic style that makes it so specific. Maybe because a lot of them started from producing hip hop beats.
Any word of advice to DJs scratching in the privacy of their rooms oping to make it big someday?
Best advice would be to work hard and to do what you like, not what is supposed to work.