Artist Spotlight: The Sylvia Platters

The Abbotsford group’s next record, a split 12-inch called Shadow Steps, will be out before Halloween

Sylvia Platters, a four-piece genre-bending Abbotsford based group. (submitted)

Not quite shoegaze, not quite pop, and worlds away from the valley’s acoustic and metal communities, The Sylvia Platters have been standing out in the Abbotsford music scene since 2013.

Their next record, a split 12-inch with Stephen Carl O’Shea from You Say Party, will be streaming online on Oct. 19. Side A belongs to The Sylvia Platters with six songs, and side B to O’Shea with five.

The title, Shadow Steps—which appears in lyrics throughout the whole album—refers to “those tentative actions or movements that you want to make but you’re not making,” according to Platters guitarist and vocalist Nick Ubels.

“Also, I think it reflects the dualism at play on both sides of the record, one side being the shadow of the other,” he adds.

The six tracks written by the band are moody but comforting, led by heavy, dissonant guitars and backed by ethereal harmonies. They’re noisy and sludgy enough to be reminiscent of classic groups like Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine but playful enough to be likened to more modern favourites like Nana Grizol and Yuck. On the flip, O’Shea’s style is gloomier and more pensive, but possesses the same dark style as the content from the Platters.

“Stephen’s side is quite different from ours, but I think they complement each other thematically and musically,” says Nick. “His is a little more minimal and a moody, somber kind of thing. On the other hand, because our sound is a little bit more upbeat … it complements certain aspects of his side of the record. As a project, it has some really interesting aspects. I think the two sides go really well together.”

While he’s hesitant to categorize the band as a shoegaze project, bassist Scott Wagner does say that Shadow Steps is closer to falling into that genre than any of their previous releases have been so far.

“I wouldn’t say we’re a shoegaze band, but we have our feet in the water for sure,” he says. “We’re not necessarily a band that tries to seek out bands from the 90s. I think that’s just the kind of music that we love.”

Some of the other themes included on the upcoming release are “communication between people, barriers to that, [and] overcoming those barriers,” according to Nick and Tim Ubels, the primary songwriters for the band.

“I don’t want to tell people what to think about what the lyrical content is or make too many big, sweeping statements, but there’s something about self-actualizing in there too—sort of living your life the way you want to live it as opposed to getting stuck in routines that are, maybe not even unhealthy, but just not what you want for yourself,” says Nick.

The Sylvia Platters will be playing two release shows with Stephen Carl O’Shea in celebration of Shadow Steps—one at I-Lead-Abbey on Friday, Oct. 19 with Energy Slime and another at Avant-Garden on Sunday, Oct. 21 with Harlequin Gold.

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