Magazine article New Internationalist

Interview with David Sylvian

Magazine article New Internationalist

Interview with David Sylvian

Article excerpt

David Sylvlan becomes ever more Interesting with time. He first captured the hearts of many angst-ridden teens back in the 1980s with his band japan but opted out of pop stardom just as he seemed to have found a new and more alternative voice with the song 'Ghosts'. Cocaine addiction and phobia led him into a deep isolation and, exploring his spirituality, he nearly left music altogether. Ultimately, however, he continued a musical journey that has borne fruit in haunting, unique albums such as Gone To Earth (1986), Secrets of the Beehive (1987), Dead Bees on a Cake (1999) and Blemish (2003).

'I was suffering, and I still suffer, from a form of social phobia. I decided to leave Japan. I had to face up to personal issues that I'd been working around rather than dealing with head on. That was the painful part of the process, moving from a cushioned state of a minor celebrity to a more everyday, interactive, existence. It was a necessary transition.

'I have a strong will, a survival instinct, that has served me well. I still think often about the possible outcomes of leaving music and the material world. That path is still an option. I'm not certain how radically different my life would have been though, if I had taken that course. A spiritual life isn't an easy option; it's not an escape. For me it entails a , ruthlessness and integrity rarely found in other aspects of life.

'I was obviously searching for answers. I delved into different sources of knowledge and disciplines with an open mind, trying to find truths that resonated with me. I often felt I was reading a deconstruction of the same experience - for example, the fullness of the Hindu experience of Samadhi and the emptiness of the Buddhist Nirvana are so obviously descriptions of the same experience.

'Spirituality has helped me in every aspect of life; however, I wouldn't want to give the impression that my belief system, such as it is, doesn't undergo constant readjustment and radical re-evaluation.'

One of David's most recent collaborations this year was with Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto for the soundtrack to the movie Babel. Ryuichi and David had originally collaborated on the 1983 film Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence. They made a pact to work together again when the time was right. …

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