A conversation with Sirintip about her latest album, Carbon

The New York-based artist sat down with The Concordian to talk about her new LP 

Oct. 14 saw the release of the long-awaited Carbon LP from Sirintip (AKA Sirintip Phasuk), and honestly, I am here for it. The New York-based artist took the time and effort to make this album into what it is: a means of communicating the “narrative of science” and implementing data from pollution to turn into musical sequences. She has used her Thai and Swedish influences and poured them into a melting pot with jazz, turning the project into a wonderful concept album.   

The Concordian sat down with the artist to talk about Carbon:

Tell me about your musical upbringing. What is the origin of Sirintip?

So I grew up in Bangkok, Thailand. I was always singing. I started playing Thai instruments in school but then I took private lessons for piano and violin but I was always singing. The music school I went to [in Sweden] had 1,000 kids and everyone could sing, and this happened at the same time that the Harry Potter movies came out so I felt very much like the other kids. We had seven hours of choir singing every week which was intense. Then in my teenage years, I was exposed to jazz and then I did my master’s in New York.

Tell me about your songwriting process, what comes first? What comes last?

So for this album, I started with the concept. There are 13 songs in the album and each song is a specific cause or effect of climate change. So what I did was research, among other topics, plastic pollution: what is it? How does it affect us? For the whole record, I decided that I didn’t want to put anything clearly in the lyrics, I wanted to build the message into the songs. So then people can listen and connect to the songs, and be curious enough to learn and research the concept. I don’t believe that forcing anyone to think or do anything is the way to go around this. I think it’s better to try and inspire conversation. So for “Plastic Bird,” I took plastic trash from my kitchen, recorded it with my ZOOM recorder and uploaded it into Ableton as a sample. When you put all the samples on a drum rack you can play the sounds on your keyboard. 

You all stayed at the Manifold Recording Studio in North Carolina for nine days with some of the artists who collaborated with you on this album. What was the day-to-day experience like for you?

It’s the most incredible experience. The studio is solar-powered which is really cool. That was an important piece for me, not just writing about climate change to sustainability but also to find ways to becoming more sustainable in my artistic practice and it’s so systemic that sometimes it’s just impossible like If we need to perform in Europe, we’re not going to be able to afford a ship to get us there but at least we were able to work in the studio for nine whole days. We’d work the whole day at the studio and then walk three minutes to the guest house, sleep, and then restart the procedure the next day. We were completely immersed without distraction. We were in the middle of nowhere and so there would be a lot of wildlife like deer roaming around right outside the studio.  

You said for your debut album Tribus that “The idea behind the album is to bridge the gap between pop and jazz by combining singable melodies with grooves, jazz harmonies and electronics.” Does this still resonate true with Carbon?

I think that is just something that is inherently me, so when it came to Carbon it was more like “How do we turn this air pollution data into music?” When I grew up in Thailand I would play Thai instruments and in Thailand, on mainstream media it’s just pop music. When I moved to Sweden their main musical export is pop, with people like Max Martin writing a lot of the hits of the 2000s [and even now]. So when I moved to the States I started studying jazz, but because it is an Afro-American tradition and being in New York studying it I realized it was better for me to add to the music by bringing in both my Thai and Swedish influences. I feel like the foundation of my writing is jazz: there’s a lot of complex harmonies, a lot of weird time signatures, as well as challenging concepts and improvisations when live. It’s just packaged in a more pop way, because I feel that it’s important for people like my parents who do not listen to jazz to sing along to it.

What is in store for the future of Sirintip? What do you have coming up?

I want to be working with scientists firsthand. Back in July, I went out on a research vessel with 25 scientists in the North Pacific. They were studying plankton so I was learning from them and working with them and writing music based on their research. Knock on wood I might be going in July to Greenland to study icebergs and glaciers, plus I want to do other research trips too. All this is to bring all that knowledge and write an interdisciplinary suite where I’m combining my electronic roots with an acoustic rhythm section and a small chamber orchestra to present this work so that it comes from science and the work that I’ve discovered with scientists, and to help tell the narrative of scientists

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