In early 2022, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn made a pilgrimage to Los Angeles, writing Sylvain Essothe fourth album of No rules Sandy. Inspired by the restless itch the pandemic has inflicted on us all, the inimitable pop duo wrote the contagious collection of songs in just three weeks. Embarking on a one-of-a-kind creative endeavor, Meath and Sanborn channeled their unique creative synergy into a raw and vulnerable record, exploring themes of self-actualization, self-destruction and of course love.
Sanborn’s high-octane synths and rhythmic percussion infuse the album with carefree energy, while Meath’s haunting vocals and lyrics serve as an unexpected wake-up call, transporting listeners into a feverish state. The album is a constant loop of sonic excitement as it is embellished with a tender collection of found sounds, creating an aural memory of the smallest and most precious moments of everyday life.
“No rules Sandy is a throwback to our first record when we started making music together. The craziest part of the pandemic was not being able to share our music on the shows. With that gone, why would you impose rules on yourself? says Meath.
This shameless rejection of the status quo is evident as the album delights in delivering slightly unsettling electronic beats alongside equally unsettling words. “Sunburn” is a pop song through and through, carrying an undeniably catchy beat, but its lyrics underscore the pitfalls of the sweet side of things as Meath sings, “My favorite way to ruin myself/eat the candy right when I see /And never stop to think or breathe/It comes naturally to me.
Write the ten songs of the album without editing, No rules Sandy, which is an ode to Sanborn’s nickname, is arguably Sylvan Esso’s most honest album to date and for that reason, might be their best. After experiencing a global health emergency, there is no time to waste being inauthentic. “’Your reality’ is mostly about being in a state of mind where you define yourself in every moment. You can decide how and who you are going to be and how you are going to love yourself.
No rules Sandy is available to stream August 12 on Apple Music and Spotify and watch the music video for “Echo Party” below.
Keep scrolling to read Hypebae’s interview with Amelia Meath.
What prompted you to temporarily move to Los Angeles to create No rules Sandy?
This is something we started doing during the pandemic. We live in North Carolina and normally we hang out in New York and Los Angeles every year, which we couldn’t do anymore. The pandemic was very depressing and we loved the idea of getting in the car on January 1 and starting the year traveling and doing what we love to do best. It’s impossible to write pop music in isolation, because it’s all about sex appeal, joy and fun. By the time we got to LA, the new COVID wave hit and the Grammys were canceled, so we decided to sit down and write. The weirdest part was that No rules Sandy literally unfolded in a way that an album never had before. Nick and I are explorers, constantly reacting to the world around us and this album feels like a true embrace of that.
The last album you released was in 2020 when we all experienced a global health emergency. How has the pandemic and its required isolation influenced your creative partnership and process?
Of course, everyone has been greatly influenced by the pandemic. I think we’ll probably spend the rest of our lives finding out what the pandemic was like and what it made us feel. Especially with the opening track “Moving”, when your work is your art, your life and your art become the same thing. Because of that, when I want to take a break, what I want to take a break from is living, which of course is impossible. He channels this strange idea of “How to stop time? How do I not exist? Usually I can only achieve this when playing. I find that eventually I will get to a place where I disappear into the music.
Have you become less precious with your art and more experimental?
Absolutely. I think in many ways, No rules Sandy is a throwback to our first record when we started making music together. The craziest part of the pandemic was not being able to share our music on the shows. With that gone, why would you want to stick to any rules?
Can you discuss the inclusion of more intimate interludes in the album like voicemails and snippets of conversations?
They come from our real life. I wanted to include some sort of time capsule from last year, so Nick and I dug through all of our voicemails. We’re constantly recording for street sounds and all kinds of stuff, so we just made a big folder of all those collected sounds.
In your opinion, where does the future of electronic music go, especially with the arrival of emerging technologies? How do you see this evolving for you and your practice, as well as the industry in general?
What excites me the most is haptic technology because I like to dive into the sensory experience of sound. On TikTok, there’s so much about how a sound makes you feel or with clothes, being able to have something that you can touch that really pushes you or pulls you is really exciting. I’m really into the metaverse and there’s so much potential to completely change the art world with VR.
In the song “Your Reality” you sing, “Were there rules originally where/are we learning to be? / Surreal but free”. We have all been confronted with different levels of reality, not only with the pandemic, but also with the presence of the metaverse. We would love to hear your intention behind these words.
While writing the lyrics for this record, I never came back to correct them, so they are much more vulnerable and honest. “Your reality” is mostly about being in a state of mind where you define yourself in every moment. When you pay attention to how you want to appear in the world and how you want to react to others. It’s about being able to elevate and take care of yourself in a way that gives that sense of security. You can decide how and who you are going to be and how you are going to love yourself.
In “Did You Know? it’s about the wild reality of being able to behave through the world. It’s as if I was observing myself and watching myself grow and change. What I wanted to talk about in “Did you know? is this strange feeling to see that I have done a good job.