Relative newcomer Sivu has developed an impressive fan base with the release of his single, ‘Better Man Than He’. We premiere his B-Side, ‘Family Tree’.
The Cambridge-born musician counts Frank Sinatra and Bjork among his influences, resulting in an unusual blend of acoustics, sounds and dreamy melodies. Wonderland caught up with James Page (reverently known as Sivu) to discuss religion, inspirations, and performing inside an MRI machine…
How would you describe your sound?
Without trying to pigeonholing it too much, I’d say perhaps spacious alternative pop.
Where did the name Sivu come from?
The name Sivu came from the idea that I just wanted to take the focus of the project away from myself, so I started looking for ideas. I really wanted to keep my family name in there which is ‘Page’, so I searched for interesting twists on the word and found Page in Finnish is ‘Sivu’. I liked the fact it’s small and simple, and people are just going to pronounce it how they wanted.
What was your path to becoming a solo artist?
I have been playing in bands since I was 14, but I was always writing solo songs. By the end of 2011, I knew I didn’t want to do session work anymore and really wanted to focus my energy on new songs. This resulted in being the start of Sivu.
Are there particular influences contributing to your music?
A starting point for my music are artists like Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams – things I grew up listening to. I just loved how enchanting and timeless their melodies were. I think that my love for more left-field artists like Beck, Bjork and Kate Bush really made me want to try and put an interesting twist on the songs, in terms of production something – perhaps more challenging.
‘Better Man Than He’ is already generating massive buzz –what is your creative process?
I always like to start with chords, and then build melodies around them. Once I feel they’re solid I begin on the lyrics: I always try and be as imaginative and descriptive as possible with them, just to help create an image I see, but in someone else’s head.
You are not afraid of discussing deep, somewhat dark concepts, including depression and religion. How have personal experiences affected your music?
I think they’ve played a huge impact on my music, maybe without even me realizing it. I try not to think too much when writing: I just go with what feels right. So it’s always strange reflecting on them afterwards, and discovering the meaning when singing back.
How has religion influenced you?
I never grew up with religion, and am still unsure of my own beliefs. My use of religious references was mainly inspired by the biblical stories I found, and the meaning behind them. It’s the feel of those stories that I’m interested in.
In the video for ‘Better Man Than He’, you actually perform inside an MRI scanner. Why?
We were lucky enough that Bart’s Hospital allowed us to use an MRI machine. The machine we used is designed for cleft palate treatment and speech trouble, so it has great use – you can actually see what the mouth is doing when speaking (or performing, in this case).
Can we expect live performances in the near future –if so, what will they be like?
Just currently in the process of putting a live schedule together, and itching to get some dates confirmed too. I have been playing with an amazing 6-piece band: they are all incredible and I’m so lucky to be playing live with them.
What can we expect from Sivu in the near future?
After the single on the 25th of February, we’re planning an EP around May, which I am really excited about. And hopefully just lots more live dates moving into the summer.
Sivu’s single ‘Better Man Than He’ is out on 25th February. Sivu plays a single launch show at the Slaughtered Lamb on 26th Feburary. www.facebook.com/sivusignals
Words: Elise Marraro