Durham’s Sylvan Esso takes in ‘unexpected joy’ of latest Grammy nomination

North Carolina

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The Durham-based duo known as Sylvan Esso has some bright spots to celebrate after the pandemic stopped the music industry in its tracks last year.

Their latest record, “Free Love,” is Grammy-nominated for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album.

“It’s really nice. Yeah, this was a totally unexpected joy. It’s just the coolest. It’s a really beautiful way to end the year,” said Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn, the duo that makes up Sylvan Esso.

This isn’t the band’s first Grammy nomination.

In 2017, their album “What Now” was up for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album, too.

Sylvan Esso calls Durham home and praises the North Carolina music scene and its support of each other.

“Everyone’s always cognizant of trying to do their best in all things. And trying to be there for each other and that’s just like, it’s the definition of community,” Sanborn said.

The album’s message is resonating with people in the dark times of the pandemic even though it was written before the world came to a stop.

Meath said the record is about being able to see and spread joy – even in the face and amidst darkness and sadness.

“It felt pretty apt. At our lowest points in the pandemic, when I had been doing hours and hours of interviews and by the time, I had learned to stare at the eye of the camera on our computer instead of your eyes that I can see right now.

“I would imagine and remember there was somebody somewhere listening to the record in their car or in their kitchen or having an intimate moment with it. Because usually when we put out a record we’re immediately watching people absorb it. Being able to have that connection with people I can’t really articulate how wonderful it is,” said Meath.

Meath said playing live is their favorite thing to do and there were moments in the pandemic when they weren’t sure if they would ever perform live again.

“It’s just really nice to have that personal interaction with people again. I think there was a long stretch of this where we weren’t really sure if anyone was even listening. So then to be able to go out and share this experience with all these people and find everyone is still there and then on top of it to have this Grammy nomination come in, I can’t think of a more joyous way to cap this off,” said Sanborn.

“We’re getting so excited about the new shows that we’re doing,” Meath said.

They’ll finally be able to play live at the Historic Durham Athletic Park in May.

“We wanted to do something that was just like so distinctly Durham. We wanted to do something right in the middle of town and figure out a way to have it feel like a block party.

“You’re going to get to sit with your friends, there’s going to be a plethora of beautiful snacks. Also, you don’t even have to buy tickets just sit outside the fence it will be fine.”

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