“I’ve just made a cup of tea!” Archie carries a mug around the Cavern with him as we decide where to do the interview. Issy suggests the warmth and quiet of the restaurant across the road. Archie takes his fresh brew outside with him and across the street.
“No you can’t do that!” Issy says, with a smile. I’d guess Archie does this kind of thing now and again. Issy seems to be used to it. You get the impression that the two of them are close. Close enough to be halfway through a UK headline tour, and still look fresh as mint.
I sat down with both members of Ferris & Sylvester before their sold-out show at the Exeter Cavern. We discussed their busy January, their ‘niche’ as artists, and how they have turned their music into a living.
So, it’s Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester?
Archie: That’s it.
You guys have had a busy start to the year, haven’t you? BBC Radio 2 with Cerys Matthews, you’ve just released a new single, you’ve just recorded and released a music video for that single, and you’re part-way through a national tour…
Issy: Yeah! It’s been really really busy. Hopefully the start of a busy year.
Yeah, I was going to ask, how have you been sleeping recently? How many hours did you get last night?
IF: We’ve been sleeping well recently.
AS: I haven’t!
IF: I absolutely have. On the road I sleep like a baby.
AS: I haven’t been sleeping very well, but we had a good sleep last night.
Is there a highlight for you personally over the last few months?
AS: Maida Vale was special.
IF: Yeah. Getting a chance to play our songs at Maida Vale was really special. We went in there with a band and it was an amazing day. And, this! The touring is… you know. It’s the bit where you can go out and play to your fans. It’s very very rewarding, and it’s a pleasure to be doing it finally.
Tom Haven: Yeah, I saw you at Maida Vale and it looked like you were having the time of your life!
IF: It was so good!
AS: It was amazing. Just a little bit of nerves, but it was incredible.
Now, I saw in the promo for ‘Sickness’ that’s it’s one of your oldest songs. Is that right?
AS: Yeah, so, we did write ‘Sickness’ quite early on. I don’t know, probably one of the first handful of songs we wrote. We demoed it, and just didn’t love it. It wasn’t until we started playing live and we arranged it for our live setup, and we suddenly went ‘actually this is really special.’
IF: It sort of came to life.
AS: Yeah. We needed to play it live. We toured it for almost a year actually, then we went back into the studio and changed it again. So, it took a while to develop into what it is now. And when we finally recorded it, the version that you’ve heard, it was really obvious that that’s how it should have always sounded. When we finished it, we went ‘Yeah! Obviously!’
You’ve got a very traditional sound. You’re rooted in Country and Blues music. Do you think you’ve found your voice as artists? Is that important to you?
IF: Oh yeah, definitely! I think it’s very important for any artist or band, if you’re releasing music, for your music to say exactly what you want to say. And that’s actually really hard. A lot of our earlier stuff, which we’re still incredibly proud of, we didn’t feel like that showed what we were doing live and some of our, kinda, deeper and darker writing. It can take time to find your voice as an artist, but I also think that can constantly change. Whether it’s your first song or your fifth album, your sound is always developing, always evolving. I don’t know if you ever truly find a voice, like just one. But we are truly proud of how ‘Sickness’ has turned out and we feel it really shows where we are right now.
Going back a couple of years, I saw the video for ‘The Room.’ That sounded biographical. Was it?
AS: Ha! Perhaps.
AS: Every song that we’ve written is based on an experience that Issy or I have either shared or had separately, and ‘The Room’ is no different. There are a couple of details that we barely changed actually. So yeah, fairly biographical!
Last time I checked you guys have got around 200,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Is it your full-time income at this point?
IF: Oh wow, personal question!
TH: Just curious! Because it is so difficult these days to make a living…
IF: No, no! It’s an interesting question. And the answer is, yes it is. We’re very lucky to have support from streaming and also from sales and from live. But it’s a constant ever-changing tide, and it’s really difficult for any other up-and-coming musicians. It’s a difficult thing to try and sustain. But there’s always ways to try and work it out. Merch! We’re loving merch.
Is that a big one for you at the moment?
IF: Yeah. We’re loving people who love our merch. Especially when you’re doing your first tour. That’s the kind of thing that really matters.
Okay, I think I’m nearly finished. Just one more question, if I may: if you could only do one more thing as a band what would it be? What’s the dream?
AS: One more thing?
TH: Yep. Could be anything.
AS: Um, well… I don’t know. Does having a platinum-selling, long career count as one thing?
IF: No no! That’s not, that’s not… That’s cheating!
AS: Well we’ve got to get to our first album. We have to get to an album. That would feel like a good milestone for us.
IF: Yeah, that would be my answer as well. An album.
And that’s important for you guys? You’ve done a lot of singles and an EP up to this point. You want to do the album?
AS: That’s the aim. Because we feel like every single that we’ve done, each EP that we’ve done has been building up to an album. And it’s not so easy these days to just release an album, because singles are very important now, and streaming, and playlists… So, to be able to get to our first album would feel like a big thing. But we’d like to push on from there as well! But-
IF: -If we could only do one thing!
AS: Yeah, one thing would be to do the album.
TH: Fantastic! Well great. I’m done. Ferris and Sylvester, thank you very much.
AS: Great! Thank you.
IF: Thank you very much. Great chatting to you!
Ferris & Sylvester’s latest single ‘Sickness’ is out now via Archtop Records – Stream/Purchase the track here.
Photo Credit: Daniel Alexander Harris