Masterclass Recap: Nick Sylvester (Godmode)

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Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary: A Conversation With Nick Sylvester [Masterclass Recap]

“A weird world inside a single note”

by Christine Lee

IO Music Academy’s Masterclass with Nick Sylvester proved to be a study of sound and rediscovering music from its simplicity, a lesson that many of us needed. For a self proclaimed introvert who emphatically stated that he “sees a human and freezes up,” Nick Sylvester struck me as a human of underrated eloquence. While his friends were “drinking… somewhere on a hill,” Nick was playing trumpet at bar mitzvahs with forty year olds. The Harvard graduate and former Pitchfork editor turned co-CEO of powerhouse label, Godmode (home of rising Korean DJ and producer Yaeji) developed his ability to listen to sound creatively while singing in a 65 person men’s chorus and discovered his love for dance music when he moved to New York.

Having fallen into the complicated and deep hole of the fancy tricks and tools that music production has to offer, I found inspiration in some of the phrases that Nick casually threw out to us, unconsciously poetic. While talking of the history of sampling and the existence of Pierre Schaeffer, the father of sampling, he gave some hidden gems such as:

“Music is sound plus person.”

“Everything has music in it, even the wax and wane of cars.”

“Recording can become more than a document of a performance.”

At the end of the masterclass, Nick emphasized what I thought was the most important piece of wisdom that night; that although he believed in genius, “no one is above the rule of doing work and showing up.” As around 80 people stood in the IO Music Academy space to gain insight and wisdom late through a weekday night, I believe that showing up to listen to what Nick had to say was many of our first steps to “showing up.”

 
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