Although SYML are yet to release a full-length LP, they are currently on quite a big tour that will have them headlining the impressively large basement of The First Unitarian Church this Friday, September 21st. SYML is the solo project of Brian Fennell, previously best known as a member of indie rockers Barcelona. Fennell’s been releasing music as SYML since 2016 and his 2017 single, “Where’s My Love,” managed to go Gold in Canada, The Netherlands, and Belgium, in addition to getting more than 50 million YouTube views. SYML blends classic piano-or-guitar-based pop aesthetics with 21st Century production techniques, making for something both comforting and forward. Earlier this month SYML released his latest song, “WDWIGLY,” along with an accompanying video, and last week he kicked off his Where Did We Go Tour, which will take him across the US and parts of Europe. Earlier this week I got a chance to chat with Fennell about his first venture as a solo artist.
Izzy Cihak: I realize this is a pretty general question, but your solo career is still relatively new, with your first full-length yet to drop, but you’ve already achieved quite a bit of success and notoriety, so what have been some of the personal highlights of your solo career so far?
Brian Fennell: Being able to travel around Europe with this project has been insane. So much fun and beauty.
Izzy: Have you noticed patterns in the people who seem to most like your work?
Brian: What’s surprised me is that people who like my music are fully comfortable talking about their feelings. It seems like my music helps them put some of what they are feeling into words. And maybe because I’m a stranger, it’s easier.
Izzy: What would you consider to be your biggest influences at the moment, both musical and non-musical?
Brian: I am an unashamed pop fan, so I try to keep myself aware of new mainstream songs and artists. I am also inspired by designing and imagining spaces. We just moved into a new house and have been remodeling, including a studio in the basement. It is definitely a crazy ride, but I love it.
Izzy: Do you have any significant influences (or even just likes) that you suspect would surprise your fans?
Brian: I love scents. I think a scent can be as powerful as a piece of art or your favorite food. I just designed a candle with a perfumer based in LA, which is a first for me. Loved the process.
Izzy: I know you’re currently on quite an extensive tour. Are there any shows that you’re especially excited to play, or just cities that you’re especially excited to visit or revisit?
Brian: Being from Seattle, I love spending time on the east coast because it’s so different. The history and vibes of NYC, Philly, and Boston are addicting every time I visit.
Izzy: What can be expected of the live experience when you play our very own First Unitarian Church in the very near future?
Brian: I think the vibe of the live show has developed into something special on this tour. I’ve added another instrumentalist, as well as a light show. We are only a few shows in and I’m having so much fun!
Izzy: You’re playing a number of shows, including your local stop, with Flora Cash, who I’m also a big fan of. How did that come about?
Brian: I met Flora Cash at a show in Kansas City a few months ago and we hit it off. We are both fans of creating fairly melancholic music, so it seemed like a good match when it came to planning this fall tour. They are sweet people, they brought me some Swedish candy for my kids.
Izzy: Finally, how do you plan to finish up 2018? Anything you’re especially excited about after these dates wrap?
Brian: I am excited to be finishing up my full-length album! It’s shaping up nicely and I can’t wait to share the new songs!