The North Carolina duo Sylvan Esso made its Coachella debut this past weekend, and they attracted one of the first big crowds of the festival. They released their self-titled debut album last year to widespread acclaim, and they've been touring ever since.
The Frame’s James Kim spoke with singer Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn about their endless life on the road.
What's your current tour schedule like?
Nick: I've never been on tour this consistently for this long. I've been doing six months a year since I was 20, but this is a lot more taxing than I'd predicted it would be.
Amelia: The longest break we've had in 20 months has been two weeks off.
So do you still enjoy touring?
Nick: You play all these shows and it's so much fun. We both love being on tour and love playing shows, and then everyone's constantly like, "You should have more new stuff!" And you're like, "I've been on tour forever and I'm emotionally dead." [laughs] I feel like I'm on my 20th wind, if that puts it in perspective for me.
Amelia: It's also the best. But all of a sudden for me as a singer, all of this new stuff has started cropping up. Like, thinking about conserving my energy in a whole different way. It's forcing me into grownup behavior — I just can't drink gin all the time. Which is really sad for me. [laughs]
How do you stay sane on tour?
Amelia: In order to keep sane after having spent every waking moment of my life with both Nick and many other people that I love, I play "Zelda: Majora's Mask," probably on average about two hours a day. [laughs]
Nick: I used to do cool stuff before shows, like drink and hang out with homies, but now I'm sitting down and listening to a meditation app — like, what has happened to me?
Amelia: It's really fun to watch him listen to his meditation app though. [laughs]
Nick: Did I tell you that I did it in a public bathroom stall the other day?
Amelia: No way.
Nick: It was like two weeks ago. There was no backstage bathroom, so I literally sat on the lid of the toilet in a public bathroom and found my center. [laughs] Not in a dirty way!
What's your favorite song to perform?
Amelia: My favorite song to sing right now is "Dress," because it's a real rollercoaster of a song. It's really fun to sing.
Nick: My favorite song to perform live right now is probably "Come Down," the last one on our record. We do that as an encore sometimes, if we get an encore. It's a pretty noisy, drone kind of song, so for me is really wide open to improvisation. I can play it really differently every night that we do it. Most of the set I feel like I'm smacking people over the head with a hammer a little bit, so that's a song I can really take a breath and be a lot more subtle with.
Does touring ever feel repetitive for you?
Amelia: There's a different audience every night, so if you're doing your job right, it's a different experience all the time. You're still showing them stuff, but it's like your dumb jokes that you memorize and tell everyone all the time.
Nick: It's so much more audience-based or based in my headspace, which totally changes night to night. It's more like, if something doesn't land, then I'm more inspired the next night to make it land. So my worst part of the set one night will be what I try to make my favorite part the next night.