Strum as you are

Ryan Driver of The Silt, this month’s artist in profile, took some time for an interview with A&E editor Emily Whalen to discuss purple people and reggae music

The Silt revel in their combined love of raw emotion and melody as they begin to get back into the swing of touring.
The Silt revel in their combined love of raw emotion and melody as they begin to get back into the swing of touring.
Supplied by Natalka Proszak

artist in profile

Who: The Silt

Who’s in the band: Doug Tielli: singing, guitar, trombone, bass, drums. Ryan Driver: singing, analogue synth, guitar, flute, drums. Marcus Quin: singing, bass, drums, bass clarinet, guitar, erhu. (Not all at the same time of course, but Marcus is quite handy with simultaneous bass and drums).

What is your band’s name and why did you choose it?

The Silt. I think we are musically comparable to what silt is geologically. Something between sand and clay that gets moved around by water, glaciers, and wind and gets deposited somewhere.Anyway, it’s metaphor with enough implications to consider for a while if anyone wants to. I think mostly we just wanted a simple, short name with a certain richness.

When did you start making music together?

We started making music together about a dozen years ago.We met at York University where we all studied music. We developed mutual appreciations for each others musical directions.We became friends and started this group and lived together for a while.We have made three records: Red Whistle (Rat-drifting - out of print), Earlier Ways To Wander (Rat-drifting), and Cat’s Peak (Fire Records).

Where do you live and work—and why?

Marcus moved to Peterborough recently but he still works in Toronto. Doug and I live and work in Toronto usually. I do it because there are audiences and venues for diverse and interesting musics, and people involved in creating all of these things. I enjoy diverse and interesting musics and people. There are a great number of wonderful people too. Friends, collaborators, strangers, etc.

In one sentence, describe the style of music you play:

We play different kinds of songs in our own special way.

What’s the nicest thing someone has said to you before, after, or during a show?

When I was in the UK recently, Clive, who started the record label that the last Silt album and my solo album are on (and whom I had never met before), talked fervently to me about a Silt song for about twenty minutes. He claimed it was the best song he has heard in years and explained why using references to Philadelphia soul music, Todd Rungren, an obscure disco producer whose name I have forgotten, etc. I got the impression that he had thought about it a lot, which is quite a compliment.

What’s the worst thing someone has said to you before, after, or during a show?

Once someone told me they didn’t like The Silt. I had never heard anyone say that before and I was curious to know why and he said he could not tell me at that time because he was too drunk. He promised to email me about it but I never heard back from him sadly.

When someone says “Kingston” you think…

I went to Queen’s for two years before transferring to York for a year and then dropping out. All very good experiences. I didn’t enjoy studying music in a university setting for the most part but I guess I really wanted to like it. It was my first time not living with my parents and so Kingston holds a special residual feeling of adventure and freedom for me.

The last time I was in Kingston was this past winter when I played with Eric Chenaux and Aimee Dawn Robinson at Grant Hall (as part of the Tone Deaf Festival).  Marcus and I played at Artel a couple years as Sandro Perri’s band. We enjoyed the venue and look forward to being there again.

Sometimes when someone says Kingston, I think of purple skin and reggae music.

What are your plans? Are you recording, touring, taking a break?

We have just come out of hibernation. We took a break from playing as The Silt for almost a year and now we are getting back at it.

I am recording with Eric Chenaux this summer and hopefully spending a few weeks touring with him in the UK come September. I just did a small tour overseas as a solo artist and across Canada as a street sweeper bristle bass player with Justin Haynes on ukulele and Jean Martin on suitcase.

The Silt will do some touring someday soon I hope. We haven’t gone very far from home in this outfit as of yet. I am sure we will make another album but I am not sure when yet. We are waking up slowly.

The Silt with Castlemusic play Saturday July 11th 8pm @ The Artel (205 Sydenham St) $5 at the door

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