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Loss, loneliness and redemption: Sylvaine offers salvation in dark times

A sumptuous addition to the ‘blackgaze’ canon, Sylvaine’s latest album Wistful rails against limitations – she tells us how art can spring from loneliness and isolation

Seeking solace and a rooted sense of yourself in art is not unusual, but for Kathrine Shepard, the artist behind Sylvaine, that impulse has taken on a special resonance. Her background is nomadic; having been born in San Diego to an American father and Norwegian mother, the young Kathrine soon moved to Oslo and found her home, yet now finds herself living and creating in Paris.

“I’ve spent most of my life in Norway,” she explains. “I think that’s why I have a special connection with nature because where I lived is five minutes away from the forest and beautiful landscapes, so it became a shelter when I was growing up.”

Recently, though, Sylvaine has made a move to Paris and there’s a sense of loss in the way she speaks of leaving Oslo. There’s a bigger reason to be in France, but it’s not one she’s completely open to talking about. Instead she speaks of feeling lonely, and it’s that theme that filters through her music.

“It’s very different in Paris. The fact nature doesn’t exist here and when you come to a country and you don’t speak the language and you don’t have your friends you start feeling a lot like an outsider. It sounds so dramatic but I feel like I’m kind of alone anyways, and coming to Paris made me feel even more like that.”

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