Indie jangle pop lives on in Vivian Elixir

The Sylvia Platters discuss the album, upcoming shows, and more

PHOTO: Gudrun Wai-Gunnarsson / The Peak

By: Hailey Miller, Staff Writer

Dripping in carefully curated melodies and groovy sounds that culminate in an upbeat yet relaxed tempo, The Sylvia Platters’ new album Vivian Elixir represents a “range of sounds and feelings.” It’s a guitar-strumming, tambourine-rattling, drum-thumping culmination of the band’s musical experimentation and a mix of their personal likes.  

Formed in 2014, the Fraser Valley-based band consists of brothers Nick (lead vocals, guitar) and Tim Ubels (drums, vocals), guitarist Alex Kerc-Murchison, and bassist Stephen Carl O’Shea. Their music revolves around jangle pop (raw, dreamy melodies emphasized with guitars), which falls under the indie rock umbrella.

PHOTO: Gudrun Wai Gunnarsson / The Peak

The band’s first record, Make Glad the Day, came out in 2015 and reflects their “eclectic musical appetites,” frontman Nick Ubels told The Peak over the phone. It experimented with shoegaze (loud waves of sound from vocals, feedback, and more). He noted their approach to music involves a “DIY ethos or an independent spirit” — something the band has “naturally been drawn to.”  

Ubels said Vivian Elixir “represented us bringing all the pieces together and establishing a bit more of a distinctive musical identity as a group.” 

The album touches on topics such as “depression, alienation, conspiracy theorists, and making love last.” “Kool Aid Blue,” one of the band’s most popular singles off Vivian Elixir, has a laid-back surfer-rock vibe. “Heated Meeting” houses a punk rock influence reminiscent of early ‘70s Ramones tracks. 

It was through “creative relationships within the band” that the record was shaped, such as recording at the Noise Floor, a “retreat” studio on Gabriola Island. These allowed the band to build a “foundation of trust” that led to experimental tracks like “St. Catherine,” which is a synth-heavy track the band felt “confident enough” to pull off.

PHOTO: Gudrun Wai-Gunnarsson / The Peak

Ubels expressed his excitement to play live with new and old friends alike on the band’s spring tour across BC, including Vancouver-based indie-rock contemporaries La Lune. “All of us have full-time work and lives outside of doing this, but this is still something that’s really important to us,” he noted. “The more places we can bring this new album, the better.” Ubels was careful to note that he and his bandmates don’t “harbour too many illusions about blowing up.” 

“Music is a great way to connect with others,” Ubels said. “We always are excited when more new people hear our music and respond to it or connect with it in some way. I’d like to think that we’re sort of in it for the longer haul, and are just slowly building a bit of a body of work that we feel proud of.

“We’ve already started writing lots of material that we’re mulling over for our next release. It’ll be really interesting to see what kind of shape that takes.”

In the conversation with Ubels, it was clear that he and his bandmates will continue to evolve and experiment personally, professionally as a band, and creatively among their artistic approaches. Before hanging up the call, Ubels couldn’t go without stressing the importance of recognizing everyone involved in the success of the band and their latest record. From their producer to their engineer, those involved at the label and who designed the artwork, Ubels’ appreciation seeped through the phone speaker with infinite gratitude.

PHOTO: Gudrun Wai-Gunnarsson / The Peak

“It takes a bit of a community, in a way, and we’re really grateful to be a part of that.”

Listen to Vivian Elixir on Spotify, Apple Music, and other music streaming platforms. Follow The Sylvia Platters on Instagram at @thesylviaplatters.

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