On June 3, 24-year-old singer Sivu will formally release his new single “Bodies” on Third Rock Recordings — the follow-up to his breakthrough record ‘Better Man Than He’, which received over half a million hits, and saw extensive radio support across the likes of Huw Stephens, John Kennedy, Phil & Alice and Steve Lamacq. Sivu will play a single launch for ‘Bodies’ at Chats Palace, which recently hosted The XX, on June 4, following extensive touring through April and May.
For anyone who’d ever wondered, Sivu’s stunning debut video showed us precisely what goes on inside a musician’s head, after the 24-year-old volunteered to be filmed singing live within an MRI scanner. It was quite the first impression. Inspired by research into cleft palates taking place at Barts Hospital, Sivu’s music was quickly heard far beyond the call centre in Waterloo, where he presently still chooses to works. “The response to ‘Better Man Than He’ was so overwhelming,” he says now, “but I wanted to set the bar for this project. We made something as honest and simple as possible.”
‘Bodies’ proves that there is more to Sivu than just the delicate beauty of ‘Better Man Than He’ – it’s an urgent and insistent piece of left-field pop, with its mix of acoustic and baroque atmospherics bearing closer influences from the likes of Wild Beasts or Arcade Fire. As befits that unique stage-name (Sivu is his surname in Finnish), this is bigger than the solitary “singer-songwriter” tag might usually suggest. The ‘Bodies’ EP was also produced by Sivu’s long-standing collaborator Charlie Andrew; the Mercury-Award-winning producer behind Alt-J’s ‘An Awesome Wave’. The two are now working on Sivu’s debut album.
Sivu is building a distinct world around his strange songs, with both the contemplative optimism of ‘Better Man Than He’ and the Noah’s Ark apocalypse of ‘Bodies’ depicting an unusual, biblical thread. Not being a religious person, it’s a subject even Sivu was surprised to find himself exploring. “I love artists like Kate Bush and Arcade Fire, who use these subject matters to drive other emotions. I wanted to write about ideas that were bigger than me.” A mix of the personal and the mythical, the animals-walking-two-by-two march of ‘Bodies’ in fact describes “a time in my life when everything was a mess. I just loved the idea of wiping the slate clean.” And if ‘Bodies’ draws hope from the idea of flooding the past, the rest of the EP is no less brooding: ‘Sleep’ is brutally honest and sonically heavier, whilst ‘God Speaks In Tongues’ ask questions of someone who can’t explain themselves to you.
He may have started his career in the MRI-lights of a ‘singing brain’, but Sivu’s songs have a consistently examining edge – and they’re ultimately optimistic. Working in a call centre has instilled “a stronger work ethic” in the 24-year-old, whose imagination has been left to run riot. You sense Sivu may not work there much longer.
April 18 St Mary’s Church Ashford (with The Staves)
April 19 O2 Academy Oxford (with The Staves
April 20 Arts Centre Norwich (with The Staves)
April 22 Komedia Bath (with The Staves)
April 23 The Gate Arts and Community Centre Cardiff (with The Staves)
April 24 Scala London (with The Staves)
April 25 Scala London (with The Staves)
April 27 Privatclub Berlin (with The Staves)
April 28 Bitterzoet Amsterdam (with The Staves)
April 29 AB Club Brussels (with The Staves)
May 30 Point FMR Paris (with The Staves)
May 2 Leadmill Sheffield (with The Staves)
May 3 Gorilla Manchester (with The Staves)
May 18 UEA LCR Norwich (with Benjamin Francis Leftwich)
May 19 Brudenell Social Club Leeds (with Benjamin Francis Leftwich)
May 20 O2 ABC Glasgow (with Benjamin Francis Leftwich)
May 21 Northumbria University Newcastle (with Benjamin Francis Leftwich)
May 22 HMV Institute Birmingham (with Benjamin Francis Leftwich)
May 23 The Forum London (with Benjamin Francis Leftwich)
June 1 Bushstock Festival London
June 2 Wychwood Festival Cheltenham
June 4 Chats Palace London:
June 22 Ousburn Unplugged Newcastle
July 28 Lounge On The Farm Canterbury
Listen to “Bodies” by clicking here.