Guest DJ: Sylvan Esso : All Songs Considered Sylvan Esso's Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn break down the components of their electro-folk sound and share songs by some of the other artists who've inspired them.

Guest DJ: Sylvan Esso

Guest DJ: Sylvan Esso

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Elizabeth Weinberg/Courtesy of the artist

Sylvan Esso.

Elizabeth Weinberg/Courtesy of the artist

This ... Is The Show: Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn, the singer and electronic artist behind the music of Sylvan Esso, join All Songs Considered hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton to play some of their favorite songs by other musicians. There's jazz from The Lounge Lizards, Icelandic experimentalists Múm, Kendrick Lamar's "Hood Politics" and much more. In fact, they brought so much great stuff to hear, we never had a chance to play any of Sylvan Esso's own music. But you can you can hear plenty in our archives, including a fantastic Tiny Desk concert.

Bob and Robin were in NPR's D.C. studios and the band was at WUNC, in its home base of Durham, N.C. The distance meant we couldn't see them and they couldn't see us. That's not unusual, but what was unusual is how technology seemed to fail us. So as our conversation unfolded — or attempted to unfold — things fell apart pretty quickly, which made for some awkward, albeit funny, moments.

You can hear what we mean with the audio link at the top of the page, or just hear the songs Sylvan Esso shared and read more below.

Songs Featured On This Episode

Cover for Voice of Chunk

The Lounge Lizards

  • Song: Bob the Bob
  • from Voice of Chunk

"I think that's always one of my favorite things that people do in music — when they make a really experimental, different-sounding record that has no bar for entry, that anyone can enjoy. It's just this new, pure expression. I feel like The Lounge Lizards were really, really good at that. And this song in particular... It's so free. The melody phases over the chord progression. It feels like just a pure expression of something he was feeling." --Nick Sanborn

Cover for Indian Ocean

Frazey Ford

  • Song: Done
  • from Indian Ocean

"I was completely unaware of her until my friend Phil Cook [of Megafaun] introduced me to her, because he worked on her most recent record that this song is from. And I got to sing with her at a performance that he just did in our town, at which point — after we had sung together — I was like, 'Man, I've got to check out her music. This lady seems super awesome and amazing and wizardly.' She's so cool. She was wearing the coolest outfits and just owning herself in the best way. Her eight-year-old son was running around, and I was like, 'Man, this chick is bad.' Then I bought her record and was like, 'Oh my gosh.' My mind was blown at how good this record is." --Amelia Meath

Cover for Megafaun


  • Song: Everything

"[Frazey Ford] sang on the last track of the last Megafaun record — another song that Phil wrote. That was my first time hearing her voice by itself. I remember just being like, 'Who is this?' He was like, 'Oh man, it's Frazey from The Be Good Tanyas.' I was like, 'Oh my god.' Go and check that out, because it's one of the coolest verses." --Nick Sanborn

Cover for Made the Harbor

Mountain Man

  • Song: Honeybee
  • from Made the Harbor

"I think the drawings are different, but the actual skeleton underneath the music is the same [as Sylvan Esso's]. Particularly with Mountain Man, the content of those songs is similar to the songs of Sylvan Esso, but they're just wrapped in different packaging. Mountain Man was all about being a human being in a very loud place and trying to speak quietly, and I think that Sylvan Esso's the same, except it just happens to have a bunch of dancing involved." --Amelia Meath

Cover for Below The Salt

Steeleye Span

  • Song: Spotted Cow
  • from Below The Salt

"What happens in the electric guitar on this record is so fantastic for people who are in love with traditional British music — what they and folks like Richard Thompson were doing with Fairport Convention. [They were] just electrifying that music. ... Outrage and revolution... sometimes that's all it takes. Like, 'How dare you?' It didn't take much." --Bob Boilen

Cover for Finally We Are No One


  • Song: Green Grass of Tunnel
  • from Finally We Are No One

"I was just madly in love with this record and this band. It just spoke to so much that we were trying to make at the same time, and it brought this sense of intimacy to electronic [music] that wasn't terribly present right before then — if you can imagine a world before The Postal Service, which was not a thing that happened that much. There was a lot of it, there was delicate stuff, but it was usually more Warp Records, IDM, aggressive, Autechre kind of vein. So this record was a huge thing for me. ... ['Green Grass Of Tunnel'] was the first song that really stretched my brain out when I listened to it." --Nick Sanborn

Cover for To Pimp A Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar

  • Song: Hood Politics
  • from To Pimp A Butterfly

"I think there are a bunch of records like this that came out, for me, in the last two years, I'd say, where it's a record that's just so perfectly representative of the artist that made it, and it feels like such a pure missive or expression from that person, and it doesn't sound like anybody else could make it. My favorite part about records like that ... is that they don't make you want to make music like that. What they make you want to do is make an even better record that sounds like you." --Nick Sanborn

Cover for Diva

Annie Lennox

  • Song: Walking on Broken Glass
  • from Diva

"I'd been thinking about Annie Lennox for the last little while, so I really wanted to play one of her songs. It was so tough to pick because once you start thinking, 'If I had to play only one Annie Lennox song, which one would I play?' There are so many amazing, multifaceted Annie Lennox songs and Eurythmics songs you could play. Her catalogue is so deep. You can kind of forget that." --Nick Sanborn