Indie Mixtape 20: SYML Has Officially Arrived

Shervin Lainez

After a string of notable EPs over the last few years under the name SYML, Brian Fennell — best known for his work in the band Barcelona — has finally unveiled his debut self-titled full-length. Spanning twelve songs, the record is meticulously crafted and chock full of soaring hooks and catchy sing-alongs that mark the official arrival of SYML in the world, and cementing the project as a force to be reckoned with.

With the record now out in the world for all to hear, Fennell sat down with us for the latest installment of Indie Mixtape 20 to discuss the role he wants his music to play in the lives of his fans, Lindsay Lohan, and more.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Textural, comfortable, honest, disarming.

Years from now, how do you hope people will remember your work?

I hope people had a moment or experience where my music played a role. I hope that the feeling, whether it’s good or bad, is preserved because of the music.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?

Tie between Montreal and Amsterdam.

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

From a personal standpoint, my wife has inspired and challenged me most as a person. From a musical standpoint, it’s Jeff Buckley.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life?

My most recent “best” meal was at Joe Beef in Montreal. Anthony Bourdain was a big fan of those guys and it felt almost sacred to eat there.

What album do you know every word to?

Songs About Jane by Maroon 5. It was an impressionable time.

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

Sigur Ros at the symphony hall in Seattle. I cried tears of joy and also fell asleep. It was a real rollercoaster.

What is the best outfit for performing and why?

Really depends on the weather, but usually I like to have my arms and legs and head covered. Which now that I’m saying that makes me think I have some sort of strange security blanket thing happening.

Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?

It varies, but currently it’s Lindsay Lohan.

What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?

When I was younger, in my old band, we used to blare stuff Rage Against the Machine and Slayer to get psyched up. Now, everyone pretty much keeps to themselves on headphones, which is a bit sad. Also, I tend not to listen to much music while on tour.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

Chimichurri dressing recipe.

What album makes for the perfect gift?

Wildflowers – Tom Petty, because even if you aren’t familiar, you’ve heard at least 4 or 5 of those songs. AND, it sounds like it was written and recorded yesterday but came out in 1994.

Do you have a favorite hotel you enjoy staying at when you tour?

There are so many rad boutique hotels now. My recent favorite was the Michelberger Hotel in Berlin.

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

My first tattoo is written in Hebrew and says the equivalent of “Receive To Give.” I got it when I was in university and studying Hebrew. The idea is that in order to give of ourselves in any form, we must be open to receiving first. It’s as hippy as I get, but I believe it and the tattoo serves as a reminder.

What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?

Kendrick Lamar.

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

That is a crazy question. My first reaction was remembering when I had no money and someone gifted me an iPad. That really blew my mind at the time. The unequivocal answer is that I was adopted and that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

Don’t be cynical.

What’s the last show you went to?

James Blake. Genius.

What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?

Groundhog Day.

What would you cook if Kanye were coming to your house for dinner?

Unseasoned Quinoa.

SYML’s self-titled album is out now via Nettwerk Records. Order it here and don’t miss him on tour.