All the way from Melbourne, Australia, comes Kevin Silvester, producer, pianist, DJ, and music theory enthusiast. For his latest single, "Crywolf," he teams up with fellow Melbourne native 99finite to create a danceable pop tune that was inspired by an Aesop fable. Stef from The MIC sat down with Silvester to hear all about it!
SJ: Hey Kevin! Welcome to The MIC. We are so excited to chat about your latest project.
KS: Hey Stef! Thank you for having me; I'm excited as well.
SJ: Before we jump into that, can you tell us a little bit about who Kevin Silvester is?
KS: I'm a 20-year-old singer/songwriter, music producer, die-hard Taylor Swift stan, sushi-lover, skincare addict, and air-breather from Melbourne.
SJ: Love that. You were practically a child prodigy trained on piano and cello before writing music at 11 and then production at 13. What did that journey look like for you? How did you switch from classically trained to an electronic DJ and producer?
KS: Classical music taught me a lot in terms of music theory and emotional expression through music, and I actively utilise those skills when writing music. I don't think I've totally "switched" because I would still consider myself a classical musician at times. Still, I remember learning about electronic music was like seeing a colour I couldn't see before. When I was first exposed to electronic music, probably Avicii and Calvin Harris, on the radio, I was so fascinated by all the different sounds you could use, rather than the standard classical instruments I grew up hearing. So now I'm the child of Beethoven and Avicii.
SJ: As a DJ, who would you say your biggest influences are?
KS: Paris Hilton, of course, but also Krewella and Alison Wonderland. Before Krewella, I never really heard anyone perform live vocals along with electronic music DJ sets before. Alison Wonderland's DJing technique is absolutely impeccable, and her inclusion of live cello, vocals, and band in her live performances is to be praised. She's also Australian and was classically trained in cello, so I feel seen! In my future live shows, I aim to also incorporate live vocals and instruments, like guitar and keys, on top of DJing.
SJ: It's so great to identify with an artist in that way and truly feel seen. Since 2019, you've released four singles. How would you say your sound has grown since then?
KS: I started off as solely a songwriter and producer who features other vocalists on my songs. Lately, I've been venturing into singing as well, so all of my singles after Crywolf will include my vocals, albeit some have other featured vocalists. In the upcoming album, I cheekily decided to put in bits and pieces of rock elements. In some songs, you'll hear heavy distorted electric guitars, while in others, you'll hear some John Mayer and Cigarettes After Sex influences through soft rock instrumentation infused with electronic elements.
SJ: You've collaborated with quite a few artists over the past few years, including Julie Zorrilla from American Idol. Which was your favorite and why?
KS: Oh Julie is absolutely incredible, and I loved working with her. Her voice is just chef's kiss, and you can't argue otherwise. I also loved working with SEETALI, who wrote and produced "Love You Blind" with me. The first reason being our close friendship, and that writing music together is just like hanging out. It's sometimes counterproductive. One second we would be writing a heart-wrenching song, and in the next second is that we both have similar processes of writing music as we are both music theory nerds. Musical communication is always effortless between us because we would know exactly what it means if one of us is like, "Hey, I reckon we should use the Phrygian Dominant scale in that part."
SJ: Well, let's jump into the new track! It's a collaboration with fellow Melbourne producer 99finite titled "Crywolf." How did you guys come up with the title, and what does it mean to you?
KS: I came up with the title. It's an allusion to one of Aesop's fables - The Boy Who Cried Wolf, one of my favourite tales growing up. The meaning behind the tale became more apparent to me as I grew older and gained more life experiences, and it was something I strongly resonated with within this situation - so I turned it into a song!
SJ: "Crywolf" is upbeat and fun musically but lyrically sounds like a big middle finger to a manipulative person in a relationship. How would you describe the meaning behind the track?
KS: You hit the nail on the head there - it is a call out and a big middle finger to the manipulative people. I've seen many people close to me go through relationships like this, and I wanted to call out those a**holes by putting them into a fun, dance-pop song - just like T-swizzle herself!
SJ: And you really executed that well. What did your creative process look like for this song? Was 99finite involved from the inception of "Crywolf"?
KS: I wrote the majority of the song alone, but Carly, Nikk, and I came together to write the rap verse. The song started with me mumbling the hook melody over some guitar chords that I came up with. I thought it would sound funny if it sounded like a bunch of kids had sung that melody, so in the middle of the night, I decided to record a bunch of takes of myself singing that melody super nasally and pitched it up to make it sound like children. I'm sure my neighbors loved that.
SJ: Haha, that's so creative! Would you say this is how you typically write, or was there something unique about this record?
KS: My process varies largely from track to track. Sometimes I start off by writing the lyrics and composing melodies around them. Other times I improvise over guitar and piano chords that I cook up in the middle of the night. The writing process of this track is different because I originally wrote the entire song with the second verse sung instead of rap. Then Nikk thought it would be a good idea to have a rap there, so we wrote one together.
SJ: Your 'Crywolf" music video was very Teen Wolf; I loved the creativity and execution. You worked with The Preative, a production company known for their work with Steve Aoki, H.E.R., and Amy Shark for the video; what was it like putting on an entirely produced music video with that decorated team?
KS: This was my first ever music video, so I was really nervous going into it. We actually planned to shoot it before the COVID-19 pandemic but had to postpone it many times due to Melbourne's lockdown restrictions. Once Melbourne's restrictions were lifted, and we finally got to shoot the video, the process was a very enjoyable experience because some of my closest friends and musician friends were in the video as vampire extras. I also learned a lot about the intricacies of creating a music video.
SJ: And it really came out quite well. Your debut album will be released sometime in 2023, which is very exciting! I know that is a little ways away, but what can we expect from this record?
KS: The whole album is diverse in terms of sound but has an overarching lyrical theme about grief and nostalgia. You can expect more vocals from yours truly, as well as a couple more collaborations with fellow Melbourne artists. You can also expect badass bangers, as well as songs that will evoke a deep sense of nostalgia and melancholy - although bangers and sad songs are definitely not mutually exclusive.
SJ: So excited to hear those themes, and more vocals from you! What are you most looking forward to with your debut album?
KS: There are three more singles that will have a music video treatment, which I'm super excited about. I'm working with a different team this time, so I'm intrigued to see if there will be a different vibe to Crywolf's music video. Visual elements are really important to me as an artist. Hence, with this album, I am working towards creating a visually and sonically cohesive album.
SJ: What is one song you wish you wrote?
KS: The whole Folklore album by Taylor Swift. I can't choose one. I deeply admire her narrative songwriting style and how she creates characters by taking inspiration from her surroundings or just pure imagination. But if I were held hostage and had to pick one song from that album, or else I die, it would be "My Tears Ricochet."
SJ: Folklore is absolutely the best Swift album; I can't disagree there. Thanks so much for talking to us about your latest release with 99finite, "Crywolf." Most of all, we're so excited and looking forward to hearing your debut album, Sleepwalker!
KS: Thank you for having me, Stef! This was so fun!
LONG STORY SHORT: Kevin Silvester and 99finite's"Crywolf" is a track you can dance to with a music video you'll want to watch. Stay tuned for Silvester's full album coming soon!
Stream "Crywolf" below!
Songwriting: Kevin Silvester, 99finite, Lachlan Pike
Production: Kevin Silvester Mixing & Mastering: Levi Stringer