Guitarist Sy Sylver is Shredding Up the International Club Scene
[inline:rain] From Acapulco to Tel Aviv, Prague to Las Vegas, Sy Sylver is a legend on the international club scene. But he’s not a DJ and he doesn’t like it when spinners resort to “auto-play.” Sylver is in fact an electronic club music guitarist, a rocker-turned-House/Trance/Top 40/Mash-Up specialist who electrifies some of the world’s biggest clubs with his left-handed guitar shredding. BroBible’s J Bruck caught up with Sylver recently to find out what inspired him to get into the club scene, how he collaborates with DJs, and how the guitar solo-centric rock music he grew up listening to has become an artifact of the past. BroBible: Let’s talk influences. Who inspired you to pick up a guitar? Who currently inspires you? Sy Sylver: It was Ace Frehley of KISS that inspired me to pick up the guitar in the first place. KISS introduced me to rock ‘n’ roll at at a very early age because they were like comic book characters and a circus all rolled into one. From there my taste in music matured and I was heavily influenced by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, Slash, The Edge, to name a few. There are far too many guitarists to list as influences as everyone brings their own unique quality to the table and I respect them all.
There aren’t too many new guitarists that grab my attention today. In modern music, it seems the days of a guitar solo during mid-song are over for now. I used to love listening for the solo when a new song hit the radio. You don’t hear that anymore unfortunately. The most modern guitarist that comes to mind that inspires me is Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine/AudioSlave. He’s hardly new, but always current. [inline:rain2] Most kids who learn guitar aspire to be the next big rock musician, but it seems like you aspire for something else. Can you explain the direction you’ve taken your music and your reason for going there? I was no different growing up. I learned to play guitar so I could be in a band just like most guitarists, which I did for many years. I certainly didn’t pick up a guitar to play House music! But when I started hanging out at clubs that featured DJs, I couldn’t help but notice how boring it was to watch a guy pushing buttons and turning dials. I always thought how much cooler it would be if there was a live musician accompanying the DJ because at least there would be something to look at. And, I would always be humming additional melodies in my head to the music the DJs were spinning that I thought would bring the music to another level. I always said to myself, “I could jam on this.” You’re known for your improvisation when jamming with a club DJ. Are you aware of the tunes the DJ selects beforehand? Do you collaborate with the DJ before the gig? There is no pre-collaboration before the gig. Everything is improvised and on the fly. In fact, I usually don’t meet the DJs until a few minutes before I start. I just tell the DJs to play whatever they want and not to worry about me. If I’m performing in a rave-style setting or a club that is exclusively House or Trance, chances are I’m hearing the music for the first time as I’m playing along to it! Do you have a favorite DJ to perform with? Or do you prefer performing solo to your own backing track? To me, electronic music is one big backing track! I’ve never brought my own backing tracks because I don’t want to complicate things for the DJ, and you never really know what’s going to work or what kind of crowd it’s going to be until the night begins. As for favorite DJs to perform with, some get it and some don’t. Guys like Reflex from New York or Franco Fabi from Montreal are always great to play with because they think like a drummer would and interact with me rather than being on “auto-pilot” mode and just pushing play. Is there one musician/DJ you have not worked with who you would be stoked to collaborate with in the future? There are far too many musicians to mention that I would love to collaborate with. As for DJs though, that’s a different story because when most of them perform live, their sets are all very similar to one another. You have to remember that in a club setting, the DJs have to play what the crowd came to hear, which means they have to play music that was produced by their fellow DJs. The biggest DJ I’ve performed with the most is Paul Oakenfold, and most of the time we’re jamming on other people’s music. Describe how traditional guitarists (by traditional I mean the rock kind) react to hearing what you do. It’s certainly unorthodox. Do they appreciate your talent or have you felt slighted by the rock community? Good point. Actually most musicians are cool with it. But I could definitely see how some guitarists would shun me for it. But that’s okay, at least I’m working and doing my part to keep live music alive in a market dominated by electronic and synthetic music. I’m watching these incredible videos of your performances from all over the world… Can you describe the feeling or emotions you feel when leading a massive crowd in dance and orchestrating what you hope turns out to be an unforgettable night for those who attend? What’s the best crowd you ever played for? It’s hard to describe the feeling of playing in front of some of those crowds. It’s a high that no one else can explain unless they’ve experienced it for themselves. But it’s usually a blur because it’s such a rush. Think of it like a crazy night out with your friends; you don’t remember much except that you had the time of your life. The best crowds I’ve been fortunate to play for is at Palladium in Acapulco, Mexico. Hands down the best club in the world. Everything about the place is euphoric: the crowd, the sound system, the layout, the lights, everything. The crowds in Ibiza were pretty cool, too, but not as cool as Palladium. What are your plans for the future? Where do you see your career going? Where might we see you next? Just to keep doing what I’m doing. However, the style of music I’ve been playing with lately is going far more mainstream than I when I first started. In the beginning my concept was underground. Although my style goes best with House music, the majority of clubs in America are mostly playing Hip Hop, Mash Up, or Top 40, so I have to go along with it if I want to keep working. If you sat down at a Guitar Center and picked up a guitar, what would be the first song you play? Here’s the thing: I’m a left-handed guitarist. And as a lefty, your options are extremely limited. When I go to Guitar Center, all I can do is stare at all the right-handed guitars and just drool. Then I go buy some guitar strings. What has been your mo
st satisfying musical experience? It’s hard to say what the most satisfying experience has been so far. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had lots of amazing experiences. Giving other people the inspiration to play an instrument is an incredible feeling, and inspiring my nephew to play guitar is as rewarding as it gets for me. Though the kid is a musical prodigy, if I hadn’t inspired him to play, then we may never had known of this amazing gift he has. Writing and recording a killer song is always satisfying, or rocking out on a stage in front of thousands of people is cool as shit too. As long as I’m playing, I’m satisfied. [inline:crowd] For more, go to www.sysylver.com…