“Ambient music is my safe place, it’s what I listen to for most hours of the day, and it feels to me to be a most precious form of music”
Sybil selects an immersive playlist of mind-soothing ambience to blow away the January blues. Listen to the tracks and read an exclusive interview below, and make sure to catch her playing live at Make Me x Nachtdigital on February 8th.
Your DJ career has picked up quite quickly over the last couple of years, including high-profile radio shows & podcasts, and supporting artists like Helena Hauff and Pearson Sound. But what first attracted you to electronic music?
It’s quite a typical story haha: I’ve been obsessed with music for many years now, since at least my early teens. I was a teenage indie kid, going to gigs every weekend, posters of band boys all over my bedroom etc. I was pretty socially awkward at school and music was the way I formed my identity (not so different now either!) I got into terrible bro-step type dubstep at school which is probably the first electronic music I was exposed to, but it wasn’t until University when I started going to nights with dance music that I really got into it, then I just got the bug and have been obsessed ever since.
Tarotplane – A Tab In The Ozone
I had to lead with Tarotplane first, as he is my all time favourite ambient artist. I can’t remember how I first discovered his music, but I think it was through a YouTube recommendation algorithm and I was struck by his name. The name ‘Tarotplane’ feels mystical to me, in the same way his music does. I reached out over Soundcloud and we’ve been internet ambient music pals since. All of Tarotplane’s music has this timeless other worldly feel to it, it’s somehow solemn, but also transcendent. Like multiple feelings caught in a prism of light. It never fails to move me, it’s so wistfully evocative. Tarotplane’s music is my ultimate respite and place of retreat and calm. This track in particular is so precious.
When did you become interested in DJing? And what were you collecting at the time?
I was into dancing and going out to electronic music for a few years before I even considered that I could be a DJ, so I luckily started DJing quite a few years past my cheesy music phase. I cringe a little at the very terrifying straight techno I used to play when I was learning, but to be honest the stuff I’m into now isn’t soooo different… I bought turntables in November 2015, and properly learnt how to mix in the first half of 2016.
X.Y.R. – Lost City
X.Y.R.’s music has a similar wistfulness to Tarotplane’s, and it’s easy to see why I’m also drawn to it. This song sounds like someone running their finger through a cool pool on a hot day gently making ripples as the sun sparkles through the trees. I have a very visual reaction to a lot of music and most of the music I love I have some strong visual association with it. This song I find very transportive.
Your set at Make Me with Nachtdigital, pt 2 will the the 3rd time you’ve played for the Make Me crew. How did you come to meet the guys? And if you had to chose one, what’s the best set you’ve seen at a Make Me night?
I actually worked with Nic Baird, and that’s how we became friends, but I’ve been coming to the Make Me nights for years. They always put on such on point lineups, and have a really good understanding of how club nights should be run. Oooh it’s tough to choose a best set! I saw Pearson Sound play in room one years ago and remember being pretty blown away by that set, but I think my favourite would have to be Eris Drew’s set last October. I haven’t danced so much to a set in ages and it was just so refreshingly jubilant and fun. She’s such an energetic and exciting DJ behind the decks, you can’t help but join her in her joy for the music.
Lucette Bourdin – Radiant Stars
Lucette Bourdin’s music is just magical. So many of her albums are on YouTube in their entirety and I highly recommend taking the time to get lost in them. This album has a very deep celestial energy, and makes me feel like I’m floating very high in space zoomed out from everything. It’s so gently emotional, and patiently paced. Lucette’s music tells me to take some time out, to take things slow, to unclench my tension and breathe.
Your up-coming set will be an ambient one. What draws you to ambient music? And can we expect to hear similar sounds to your Deep Mind Music mixes?
Ambient music is my safe place, it’s what I listen to for most hours of the day, and it feels to me to be a most precious form of music. The emotions I feel listening to it are difficult to put into words but it feels like pure emotion, pure feeling, something transcendent and outside of day to day reality. My relationship with this form of music has always been strong, but can be linked back to my summer 2017 trip to Norberg festival in Sweden.
Norberg festival is on the site of a disused mine, and the massive old mine – Mimerlaven – is used as the space for drone, ambient, noise and experimental music. Before this trip I wasn’t very interested in drone, or rather, I didn’t understand the appeal. At Norberg I wandered into Mimerlaven to check it out, and it’s got many flights of winding stairs going up the mine and you just go in and find a spot and lie down and listen to the music. I went all the way to the top and lay on the floor, and the huge old mine is just reverberating with washes of deep drone that someone is playing as a live set. I got totally lost in this pure vibrational energy, and then sort of woke up several hours later when they stopped the music for the night. It was a very powerful experience and at that point I became obsessed with drone music and deep ambient. I’ve basically been searching to recreate or re-experience that feeling ever since. I made my first Deep Mind Music mix after that trip, and that experience in the mine is the central vision I have for my ambient music mixes and sound collages, so yes you can expect my ambient set at Corsica will reflect the energy of the Deep Mind Music mixes.
Montibus Communitas – Pilgrim Under Stars
Montibus Communitas are a Peruvian group who make very strange and sacred trippy music, I found them on Bandcamp browsing through different genre tags. This track completely amazed me when I first heard it. The field recordings make you feel like you’re somewhere deep in nature, on a summer’s day, things are shiny bright and woozy. It kind of feels like they are playing live in nature and you’re lying there listening to them experiment with their instruments. This track gently unfurls through the interplay of the various acoustic instruments, and it’s just magical.
Sybil’s Holographic Rave Mix that Honey Sound system put out is a cool mix blending clubby and trippy sounds. How did you get meet those guys, and what was it like playing with them in San Francisco?
I met them when we played for them in San Francisco, I hadn’t met them before that. The Honey crew are really lovely funny people who put a lot of love into wha they do. Playing their party was amazing, as they’ve been running parties for long you could tell they had a very committed crowd who were all there for the night.
As a DJ you’re quite involved in radio, what role do you think radio has in London’s music scene in 2019?
I think radio is a really cool and important medium for electronic music. You can take risks on radio shows and play music that you could never play in clubs, and it’s a great platform to introduce people to new artists and new sounds. It’s also a great way to shout out the artists of the music you’re playing and put people on to new directions. I think it’s great that there are so many new radio stations now, and it’s especially important as a platform for people still learning to DJ and who are new to electronic music. It’s a great first step for playing outside of your bedroom (even if it’s scary). Playing on the radio while I was still learning forced me to up my game quickly and also meant I could learn how to use CDJs and different mixers. It’s fun too.
Teleplasmiste – Radioclast E.R.A.
Now this, my god, what a piece of music. This track manages to have so much energy and thrust through the gentle modulation of thick layers of sound. It’s an amazing art of doing a lot and packing a lot of energy into something quite minimal. This track feels like a fresh take on what is quite a classic ambient sound, executed so well. I haven’t included this in a Deep Mind Music mix yet and look forward to doing so.
What do you have any projects coming up in 2019 that you’d like to talk about?
I decided this year to expand my Deep Mind Music ambient mixes from a personal project into a mix series with external mixes. I am really excited to develop this, and curate mixes from friends and DJs who play ambient I look up to. Ambient music is my most personal musical sphere and feels closest to my true calling in many ways, so this felt like the natural next step on that journey.
I have also finally begun the slow process of learning how to make music this year, and it’s a major goal to become proficient at this to make some tunes. I feel like I have a lot of ideas I just need the skills to execute them and the patience to learn. I really struggle with learning something I’m bad at, as I’d rather stay in the comfort of things I already know, so it’s also a process of forcing myself not to give up and to persevere and stay focussed.
Catch Sybil at Make Me x Nachtdigital with Demdike Stare, Paquita Gordon, XDB, Truly Madly and More on February 8th. You can find tickets here.