Shine's CatchUp with SYML (and the prettiest music you'll hear today)
Welcome to Shine's CatchUp, a new feature where WFPK host Laura Shine catches up with musicians about their music, new albums, or whatever they've recently been up to.
Brian Fennell goes by the name SYML. He's from Seattle and used to front a band called Barcelona. He recently released his sophomore album called The Day My Father Died. The title sounds like a very sad album is ahead but it's quite the opposite as it's full of uplifting and drop dead gorgeous tunes. I recently caught up with Brian about the new album and posted the video for one of my favorite songs from it called "Sweet Home", below our conversation.
What's the story behind the new album The Day My Father Died?
This record isn’t about mourning my dad’s passing. It’s certainly more celebratory than sad, but also a snapshot of the last three years of my life and how everything changed when he was diagnosed with cancer. Coincidentally, he was diagnosed on the day my first record was released.
How did the experience of your Dad's passing change you?
Like most people who go through something like this, I experienced a lot of emotions. Happily, I can say that I’m less angry and cynical now. His passing brought a lot of things into focus for me with my family and the relatively short time we have on earth. It shifted everything, mostly in beautiful ways.
You worked with producer Phil Ek on this album. Working with a producer can be an intimate experience, one of vulnerability. The songs carry a lot of mixed emotions with joy and grief going hand in hand, making the album that much more vulnerable. What was it like working with him on this project?
I’ve been telling people that working with a producer like Phil is like wonderful therapy. He is brilliant in many ways, but to put it simply, he helped me figure why I loved some songs and hated others. It was really a journey to shape this record together over a few months. In the end, he helped me say exactly what I wanted, no more no less.
You have several guest singers on this album such as Lucius, Sara Watkins, Charlotte Lawrence, and Guy Garvey of Elbow. How do you go about picking the artist and the song they'll sing on?
I still can’t believe they agreed to sing with me! All lovely artists that I look up to immensely. I met each of them in different ways, some at shows, some online. Since this was mostly a pandemic record, we weren’t able to work in the same place together. In some ways that was sad, but also presented a fun challenge to make something good remotely. I feel honored that they are apart of these songs.
Syml's album The Day My Father Died is now streaming everywhere.