- 08 May 19
Seattle based artist and producer Brian Fennel, aka SYML, released his debut solo album last week.
In 2016, Brian Fennel began receiving emails, seemingly out of the blue, asking him if he was SYML, the artist behind acoustic soul lament 'Where's My Love'. Fennel grew up in the Pacific Northwest, receiving a degree in music education before forming band Barcelona with other's from the Seattle music scene. In the dying days of Barcelona, Fennel had put out ballad 'Where's My Love' as a low-key side project under the name SYML.
Unbeknownst to him, the song had been used in an MTV show, and went on to become a chart hit in Canada, Belgium and The Netherlands, where it was helped along by a remix from Dutch DJ Sam Feldt. To date four different versions of 'Where’s My Love' have 160 million Spotify streams between them.
Just as he was starting to garner attention as SYML, Fennel came to another turning point in life with the birth of his daughter. Fennel himself was a child of a closed adoption and had no knowledge of his heritage until he turned 18.
He came to learn that he was of Welsh extraction, an identity he has sought to explore in his music. The name SYML comes from the Welsh word 'simmel', meaning simple. The new album pulls together Fennel's formative experiences and emotional reflections with an embrace of simple and sharply distilled songwriting.
'Connor' focuses on the life changing experience of being a father, as well as memories of his own childhood, set to a simple piano motif. Fennel explains, "Connor was what my parents were going to call me before they got me – then they were, like, ‘no, this is a Brian! A name is a huge part of your identity, but it’s also just a word on a page. So Connor is about not knowing shit about raising kids. We barely know ourselves and we’re supposed to foster these lives from zero till college age?"
Other tracks on the album make use of atmospheric electronic elements such as the grim and cathartic 'WDWGILY (Where Did We Go I Love You)'. The first single off the album, 'The Bird' starts off minimal and understated, slowly building to a swirling jazz influenced climax.
SYML by SYML, sees Brian Fennell combine subtle melodies with honest and probing lyricism. Speaking about the album he said: "Honestly, I didn’t think SYML would grow to a place where a full album would be needed or wanted. I had just planned to write and release singles. In some ways it feels easier and cleaner to have disjointed meanings in songs. But somewhere buried between trying to be an extrovert and an introvert is who I am as both a person and artist. All of these songs were written in this same place. Feelings like joy, hurt, fear, unknown, and peace aren’t simple, but they are familiar to everyone, which makes it feel safe to be honest about them.”
SYML has recently announced an upcoming UK and European tour, including an appearance in Dublin at the Button Factory on 6 July. Tickets are available from his website.
Watch the video for 'The Bird' below.
Full SYML track list:
- Clean Eyes
- Where’s My Love
- Break Free
- The Bird
- Everything All At Once
- Before You Knew It was Me