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Class of 2016: Sylvie Mix

Call Sylvie Mix “The Columbus Kid that Could.” Last Independents’ Day Fest, 16-year-old Mix, garbed in a weathered cardigan and old man mask, sang backup vocals for the local group Hugs & Kisses alongside her mother, artist Maika Carter, and alt-rap local, Envelope. In many ways, this particular performance epitomized the young artist—her age concealed [...]
Danny Hamen

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Call Sylvie Mix “The Columbus Kid that Could.”

Last Independents’ Day Fest, 16-year-old Mix, garbed in a weathered cardigan and old man mask, sang backup vocals for the local group Hugs & Kisses alongside her mother, artist Maika Carter, and alt-rap local, Envelope.

In many ways, this particular performance epitomized the young artist—her age concealed by a mask, an old soul trapped in adolescent form, a prodigal starlet performing alongside resident legends just for kicks.

And that is Sylvie Mix: the girl who first joined her mom’s band while her peers were still trying to crack the alphabet. Half-raised by a surplus of Columbus creatives who served as half-uncles and makeshift babysitters, Mix is a homegrown product of artistic conditioning.

Now 17, she’s broken the threshold of accompaniment and is working on her solo career, just months before she’s whisked off to the Art Institute of Chicago. Mix and I met at Upper Cup Coffee a few weeks back to talk about her new music, her 3-foot-tall baby brother Angus in tow—lugging his skateboard, dressed in tie-dye, with locks down to his butt. Angus sized me up, frowned, and refused to reciprocate my high-five. That is how cool this family is.

The heartbeats of Mix’s songs are simple acoustic guitar riffs, looking to Fiona Apple, Jeff Buckley, and Amy Winehouse for encouragement. From there, percussionist Chuck Palmer fills in the gaps alongside standup bassist and Relay recording intern, Richard Wexner. Hugs & Kisses frontman Donny Monaco is on uncle duty for this one, singing backup and a contributing songwriter for her upcoming release. When paired with Mix’s raspy murmur, the duo makes for an emotionally charged harmony.

“It is kind of funny, my tonsils have been really swollen for seven months or so. I think that has changed the sound and resonance of my voice. I think that something that I have always been good at is being able to transform my voice—depending on the style of my performance.”

Mix’s songs are expressive, melancholic, wistful, and almost haunting; the kind of music you would expect to be recorded in an abandoned cabin in the woods. The initial motivation to start writing her own songs echoes the thousands of artists and musicians before her, even if many have come way before her.

“I went through a period of pretty deep depression for a few months, and I was just kind of wallowing in that,” she said. “It was just hard for me to motivate myself to do anything. It was really crazy, because I am a very passionate person about the things that I love, and to not feel that just sucked. This was just a way for me to express my feelings to myself, and process them. That really brought me out of the place that I was at. Ever since then, I have always felt that art and music was just this sort of saving grace for me.”

I asked Mix if she feared that her age served as a roadblock, that in some ways her youth might categorize her music into the realm of novelty. She opened her eyes wide, and gave me a concerning nod.

“I don’t really make a point of mentioning my age. I don’t want to be a novelty. I want people to appreciate my music for what it is.”

Considering her songs are mature and well articulated—and that she has just as much experience as any seasoned musician—it is fair to assume that her age only adds to the marvel of her craft. That, and an honest touch of teenage brood.

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Music industry designates Blackout Tuesday as time of pause

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To honor the memory of George Floyd and fix the injustices surrounding his death, the music industry has designated Tuesday as a time of pause to collaborate on ways to better support the black community.

Businesses and organizations within the music industry have been asked to pause regular work to reflect on how they can better serve the black community, according to a report from Variety. In general, businesses and organizations across the board have been asked to use Tuesday as a way to focus on the effort.

The message that circulated around social media quickly on Monday stated that “Blackout Tuesday” is being used as “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community” and “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.”

The movement has been gaining momentum under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused. Major labels such as Capitol Music Group and Warner Music Group announced their alignment with the “Blackout Tuesday” cause. 

Companies have also announced practices such as pausing social media activity throughout the whole day.

Spotify and ViacomCBS have already announced an 8 minute and 46-second moment of silence for Tuesday. The time reflects how long the Minnesota police officer dug his knee into the kneck of Floyd.

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Curbside Concerts brings live music, hope to those in need

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Can’tStopColumbus took a quick pause when the pandemic shut down the world and asked two questions:

  1. Are we sure we're solving the needs of everyone in our community during this time? 
  2. Are we not just coming up with ideas based on our own experiences?

Our elder community was one of the major demographics to have stricter socially distancing guidelines suggested to them. Holidays and birthdays went by without hugs from grandpa or grandma’s cookies.

Out of the need to fill that missing love in the life of American seniors, the idea of Curbside Concerts was born. Anyone is able to jump on the Curbside Concerts signup page and request a concert for an elder, sick people not able to leave the house, or a simple celebration.

Sending a concert telegram is free, and you can also leave a message for a loved one and suggest what type of tunes the organization-selected Columbus-area musician.

So far, the feedback has been inspiring. 

“People cried. I cried. We cried. It was beautiful,” said Zach Friedman, one of the service’s founders and creators. “We had a powerful idea on our hands, and the amazing power of the #Can'tStopColumbus community to scale it and bring it to life.”

To date, Curbside Concerts has had over 50 volunteers. Their job is to drive around a Columbus musician and their equipment with trucks provided by Ricart Automotive. It’s a road trip around the Columbus area, delivering concerts to those who may just need their spirits lifted. It’s like a non-depressing version of Inside Llewyn Davis.

Support has come from all ends of the Columbus creative community, including The Columbus Foundation, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Streetlight Guild, and What? Productions. Through these organizations, musicians are able to be paid for a route that usually lasts five to six hours. 100 percent of the donations they receive on their route also goes to the musicians.

Friedman is asking people to keep requests to older audiences.

“Working with local musicians to perform curbside at people's homes is the vehicle or medium, but the real thing we are doing here is connecting those to older people they love, with an authentic and emotional experience to send love over,” Friedman said.

We found out pretty quickly how much as a collective that we take live music for granted. Live streams have been a temporary, dulled-down replacement. You realize how long people have been robbed of the experience when you see a musician pull up in a pickup truck, set up in five minutes, and serenade neighborhoods with songs like “Lean on Me” and “What A Wonderful World.” It starts off with a message to one house and then resonates down the street, like the citizens of Gas Town rushing to The People Eater for even a drop of water.

Photos by Zak Kolesar

For most people, it was their first taste of live music since mid-March. While we may want concerts to return as soon as possible, its productions like Curbside Concerts that display the emotional power of music.

To request to send someone a concert, follow the link here: https://sendaconcert.herokuapp.com/request

To volunteer for Curbside Concerts, follow the link here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b45abaa22a4fb6-curbside

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Arts & Culture

Live music allowed again in restaurants and bars: how will these establishments respond?

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A major step forward in the return of live music in Ohio took place over the weekend. The Ohio coronavirus guidelines were updated to reflect the new COVID-19 Dine Safe Ohio Order.

The order outlining the guidelines on live music in restaurant and bars is as follows:

Musicians and bands may perform in restaurants and bars as long as the individuals who are performing maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all other people including, but not limited to, fellow performers and restaurant and bar patrons and staff.

DJ's are included along with musicians and bands in the order.

Something that was on the mind of a lot of musicians with the reopening of restaurants and the indefinite closing of large venues was how restaurants and bars were going to respond to the immediate venue demand. Places like Woodlands Tavern that already have an infrastructure for live music will have no problem complying with the updated order, but will restaurants and bars that depended on jukeboxes before pivot to a live music model?

With a lot more space available in restaurants due to capacity cuts, does this leave more room for a live music set up? Or will restaurants have to get rid of even more tables if they want to make room for a performer?

The thought of live music in a venue setting is alone enough to get excited about. How these places that now have the ability to host live music execute freeing up space for a band to set up or a DJ to bring his rig in while practicing social distancing is what makes this situation a tricky one.

Not being able to get down in a MojoFlo Soul Train line will be pretty tough, but it’s a tradeoff we’ll have to accept for the return of live music.

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