SIVU – MRI music video at St Barts Hospital

By Julia Spindel

James Page, the mastermind behind the venture ‘Sivu’ (which means Page in Finnish), grew up in Cambridgeshire but moved to London 3 years ago, when he was 20. Although he had been in bands since the age of 14, he was instantly inspired by the talent, ingenuity and commitment on the London music scene. This inspiration triggered a surge in his career towards a great new sound. He met producer Charlie Andrews at a session and admired his novel approach to music, then proceeded to work with him on his two first singles.

Courtesy of St Barts Hospital, Sivu recently spent two hours in an MRI scanner recording the video for his first single ‘Better Man Than He’. Fascination with both the song and the movement of his tongue as he sings has caused youtube views to rocket. And the Sivu storm has continued to rage following the release of the single. Similarites to the hit band Alt-J (also produced by Andrews) are audible, particularly in the layering and the vocal percussion in the track. The orchestration in Sivu’s music, now involving various combinations of voice, cello, violin, keys, drums, harp and omnichord, creates an ambience that lingers long after final notes. Ingenious use of instruments gives each its own stage. Reiterated treble phrases are placed perfectly over rolling waves of reverberating chords, reminiscent of ‘Wild Beasts’, and the melodies are ear-worms that stay with you for days. The sound is strangely comforting and dreamy, no matter what you were doing before listening. Page writes bittersweet lyrics, often both empowering and regretful, and his distinctive voice is perfectly suited to these. It is well-enunciated and sticks on certain words, but floats ethereally over others in beautiful falsetto. Lyrics touch on religion, human nature and mental wellbeing, but they are merely suggested and so his songs are neither depressing nor pretentious. He says that, although he used to try to write catchy songs, he quickly realised that writing songs that he can relate to is the only way. He didn’t grow up with religion and still is unsure of his own faith, but he enjoys the power of the imagery involved. Sometimes he only deciphers his own feelings when looking back on songs he has written.

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Three weeks ago, the second Sivu single ‘Bodies’ was released. It hosts plenty of the same seductive vocals, including mesmerising looped harmonies, to feed listeners enevitable addictions. It is more melodically experimental than ‘Better Man Than Me’ but equally enjoyable and powerful in terms of the messages portrayed. The opening chords are instantly engaging and the song climaxes in a memorable chorus with thick chords, deserving of good headphones. Sivu has been touring with the Staves over recent weeks and is also due to tour with Benjamin Francis Leftwich later this month. He will then be playing at Chats Palace on the 4th of June, supported by ‘Our Mother’.

What do you think of SIVU? tweet me! @jmspindel @eastldntweets