Menschen des 21. Jahrhunderts: David Sylvian, the Allrounder

In the seventies, David Sylvian founded the band Japan. Later the singer and song-writer worked with distinguished artists such as King Crimson’s Robert Fripp or Ryuichi Sakamoto. Now Sylvian has his own label „Samadhi Sound“ which also released the latest album by his band project „Nine Horses“. Categorising David Sylvian’s music is not easy – just listen to one, as we find, of the finest, non-mainstream artists of our time.

What’s next Mr. Sylvian? ©Kevin Westenberg

Which part of your work makes you feel happy today?
Completing the last vocal recording for the project I’m currently working on.

Which goals do you have in life?
Finding and sustaining a semblance of inner peace and equanimity. Producing work ever more effective in its results. Retaining the will and good fortune to pursue challenges in divergent paths of interest.

Which profession did you find the most exciting when you were a child?
I grew up on the wrong (?) side of the tracks listening to the trains pass by my window day and night. It frequently drew my thoughts towards the idea of travel, escape. Engine driver, pilot, even an astronaut, in the sense that the farther away this occupation/adventure might take me, the better.

What did you, at the age of twenty, think you would be doing today?
I have never looked that far ahead.

In what way has the world changed for you since that time (the age of 20)?
Greater personal responsibilities. Greater personal freedoms. Although in many respects the world has become a more fearful place many of my own personal fears have been partially or completely overcome.

What has accelerated your career most?
The love and friendship of a few individuals who’ve given so much time and energy to help me achieve my goals.

How much (in percent) of your success do you think you owe to „hard work“ – and how much to „good luck/ coincidence“?
I tend to believe that clarity of mind, focus, and the power of intuition are more important than the above. Following on from that you’d need dedication and a powerful belief in yourself.  50/50

What part of your job gives you most energy and power?
Completing the writing process of any given project.

What was the biggest mistake you have made in your professional life?
Starting out; taking advice from those who were primarily out to exploit the situation for themselves as opposed to having my (and by default, their) best interests at heart.

What does it mean to you to fail?
Failure is the finest teacher.

What are you proud of in your profession?
The ability or potential to enrich (and very occasionally transform) the lives of others in some form or another.

In what way did your studies help your career?
I had a poor education which created a hunger for knowledge in me. This hunger has no doubt driven me onwards in matters both public and private.

What drives you to despair?
The oppressive wielding of power. A lack of compassion. Intolerance.

What do you think of the universities at which you were studying?
I never attended university.

How do you think would your colleagues describe you in your absence?
I don’t know.

Do you have any role models – and if so, what is it you have learnt from them?
If I have them they’re in the form of other artists, writers, philosophers etc. living or dead, from whom it’s possible to receive knowledge and inspiration.

What do you value in colleagues in general?
Vitality, good humour, integrity, vision, devotion, good sense, and intuition.

How do you combine your private and your professional life?
Seamless integration.

Where would you like to be working?
From wherever home might be.

If you had to give an advice to our readers – what would it be?
Be certain of your motivations, of what drives you.

Please finish the sentence: „Far more important than my career is …“
The lives of my children. The integrity of the work itself. My own sense of wellbeing. The greater social good.

Stand Interview Oktober 2011