"Music is the Remedy because whenever you feel upset, you always go down to music."
Sylvain Habersaat is a student that I have known for a while, but it was a surprise when I saw that he had made a music video. After watching the video "Remedy," which was entirely written, produced, recorded, and edited by Sylvain, I was more than impressed. Not only was it extremely well done, it had a really great message that I think everyone can relate to. I knew I had to sit down with Sylvain to talk about this production, and I ended up learning a lot about his inspirations, aspirations, and views on music. He is very interesting to talk to, and I think everyone can take something away from the interview. If you have not seen the video, check out "Remedy" below. Shot on Wagner's campus and entirely student-produced by Sylvain, it is a great achievement. The song is in French (besides the chorus sung by the great Lisa Lauto), so make sure to hit the CC button for subtitles!
Sitting down with Sylvain and Lisa to talk about the video and music in general was a great experience. Please take a listen or read along below:
Interview With Sylvain Habersaat and Lisa Lauto
Doug Donato (D): Hey guys, how are you? I wanted to ask you about the concept of the new video, the message of music as being a "remedy," and about the inspiration of your lyrics.
Sylvain (S): To me, music is the remedy because whenever you feel upset, you always go down to music. It's always here for you and I think we can all remember times, like 10 years ago, when you didn't feel good and you think of a specific song which brings back memories. It means a lot to me. I can remember a lot of good memories because of music. I am an art major too so the most important skill to have is creativity. I wanted to make music now, because if it can heal me when I don't feel good, just by listening to it, what can it do to me by actually making it? I write a lot too and you need lyrics for music, so it goes together. I gave it a try. You never know if you're good at something unless you try.
D: So you took something like writing, which you enjoy, and you turned it into music to try something new.
S: Yes, actually I ask myself: Why do I write? Most of the time it's because I feel upset. So I thought that was a good thing to talk about in the song: why do we use music and why do we write in life?
D: Tell me about your name, "Slykick." What is the story behind that?
S: (Laughs) Slykick is a mix of "Sly" and "Psychic." Wherever I've been, for some reason, it's been my nickname. My name is Sylvain; it is a French name and nobody can really say it, so the first three letters mix and it becomes "Sly." Most people see Sly as negative, like sneaky, but I really like it because to me there's smart and sly people. Smart people do "good" in life, but what is "good?" It is dictated by society, but is it what you want to do? Now sly people...they know how to make their life good and do what they want. I do art because I think it's good, and "Slykick" is the definition of an artist — someone whose mind can see farther than just real life. You see signs in life, you ask yourself questions...
D: You can look deeper.
S: Yes, you have actual critical thinking. To me that is a big skill to have. So... Slykick!
D: I like it! So, what do you think of using music as a way to cross cultural barriers — is that one of your goals?
S: Oh yeah, it works! I mean, I am from Switzerland, I speak French, and I grew up there. Lisa is an American; she speaks English. We made a song together. If you are American and you go to France, you don't speak a word of French, and you go to see a French comedian, everyone is going to laugh and you are not. But if you go to a club and music is playing, you are going to have a good time, because music is a language. A language of emotion, not talking about lyrics, just the melody itself...
D: Right, and they can hear that and connect to it.
S: Right, exactly. So it is big!
D: In the song, "Remedy," you rap in French. Is there a specific reason why you chose to rap in French as opposed to English?
S: Well first of all, that is my first language, so I am much more confident when I speak in French. I am pretty fluent in English, even though I have an accent, but in rap you have to be very confident in whatever you do. I wouldn't be that confident in English. You see, sometimes I hesitate between words because I am looking for words. I think French is a much richer language for rhymes, but who knows; I want to give it a try sometime but I still need to improve my English.
D: So maybe someday we'll hear a song in English?
S: Definitely! Like I told you, you have to try things or else you won't know if you're good at them.
D: Exactly, so this song has a lot of messages in it. When people listen to it or read the lyrics, what is it you want them to take away from it?
S: Respect. That's the key. Respect each other, respect yourself, respect your values... the whole song is about a lack of respect. Music is the remedy so what is the disease? The disease is lack of trust in our society. Everybody is so selfish and we can't trust each other. One of my lyrics was: "suspiciousness has replaced trust, so it isn't strange if music is my only romance." Love is a big issue nowadays. Music can try to replace it, but it cannot replace it. We as humans have to realize that respect is not at its best right now. I have my own way to say it, and I know my range isn't as big right now, but I'm just trying to have a positive influence with what I can do and make a little change at least.
D: That's definitely a good thing. So, Hi Lisa!
Lisa (L): Hi!
D: You sounded great in the video. Did you enjoy working on it with Sylvain?
L: Yeah! It was a lot of fun; it was kind of out of the blue. He heard me singing in the hallway a couple of times, which was kind of embarrassing (laughs), but he heard me singing Beyonce in the hall and was like: "Is that you!?" So he knew I sing a lot on campus and he approached me about doing it. It wasn't at all what I was expecting, but I was really excited about it because I respected his enthusiasm and dedication to something he felt really strongly about. It's something I can definitely relate to. I was on board to do it, and it was a lot of fun! We did it in a short period of time because I'm really busy, but it was worth it.
D: Cool! You're in Vocal Synergy, which is the school's a cappella group. How was this different than working in that?
L: On campus, I'm in choir, Vocal Syngery, and I take voice lessons. I sing contemporary music for fun, but for me I typically classical, Broadway, and jazz. So it's obviously a different style of music. Vocal Synergy is more pop music, but if you know about a cappella, unless you're the soloist, you're singing the background. You're singing what the piano is doing or the guitar, so that's very different in itself as well. When he told me it was a rap French song I was like "Wait...do I have to rap or sing in French!?" I can sing in French! (laughs), but it wouldn't be nearly as good as his rapping in French. So it's a new style, but I'm always open to trying new things. I do take pride in the fact that I sing a wide range and different types of music.
D: So you draw from a wide range of musical influences?
D: Those would be like...
L: Everyone always tells me I have a jazzy voice, but I can almost throw my voice depending on the style and sound a certain way to an extent. But I think deep down, the root of my voice is a little jazzy because I've had a lot of training in jazz. I would say jazz is one of my bigger influences, but I can take that through different styles.
D: So you're versatile... I can definitely hear some jazz in the song, and it sounds really good! So to wrap it up, where do you see yourselves working with music in the future? Is it going to be a hobby for you, maybe a career? What about you Sylvain?
S: Umm, not a career. I don't see things as a career; I just try to find skills in my life and that's a skill I can definitely add in my life. Music to me is a great medium to communicate ideas. I was an education minor, so I thought about being a teacher. We had this discussion with Lisa: If you want to be a teacher, is it a big influence to be in the classroom? Or can you have a bigger influence if you do music? Each can have a wide range and do good things. Everybody listens to music, so I think music is a big way to teach. That's the way I see music — a way to communicate ideas.
D: I definitely agree with that...what about you Lisa?
L: Okay, mine is a little more complicated (laughs). I'm a music and education major, but for me, I've always been a very indecisive person and ever since I was little, I've wanted to be every job. I was going to do everything! I was specifically good at that; arts and teaching is something that came later. I draw, I paint, I act. I used to be a theater major! (fun fact) but not here, at my old college, so I was dead set on doing Broadway/ Musical Theater. At the end of high school, I got a pretty serious vocal injury and didn't sing for about a year and a half. That kind of changed my perspective on things. I was very negative about everything, because that's something I was passionate about and for a while I didn't know if I was going to be able to sing again. So when I finished therapy and came here and started working with a really good teacher, I altered my goals because it was more important to be able to sing in the long run rather than do something that might damage my voice again. Singing has always been a constant in my life; its never something I'm going to stop doing. I don't know on what scale, but I pursue it in my own way. Education and my college experience is very important to me, but it's always something I'm working on and trying to do things with. If something bigger comes along, I wouldn't be opposed to it, but vocal health is more important to me. I'm grateful I'm still singing, so if it happens it will be great, but I will always be singing!
D: So we will see! The future will tell! Alright guys, well thanks so much for joining us. I really appreciate your time and hearing about your new song. I encourage everybody to listen. The song will be posted right on this page! It's great, it's awesome! I look forward to the next one.
Everyone should check out the song and comment!
Until Next time!