As music lovers, it’s only natural that we lust for noise in a sense. Not noise as in a jackhammer deafening you on a busy city street corner, but rather pleasant noise, like that which we hear when listening to our favourite music. We’re often tempted to jack up the speakers or headphones when we’re feeling particularly excited or enthused, disregarding the cumulative damage such exposure can do to our ears.
Well, this all said, Portland musician Sylis Ander has taken notice of the harm that we are doing to ourselves and has committed to reclaiming silence through his music, something that seems contradictory at first but becomes clearer as you get to know Ander’s story in more detail. He’s prepping to release his debut full-length record, Dear Paige, a collection of songs that pays close attention to aural sensibility.
Born with sensorineural hearing loss which resulted in losing half of his hearing by his late 20s, Ander is promoting caring for our ears by not only getting the message out about hearing loss in young people but also through his innovative, headphone-based live performances. In February of this year, Ander hosted a concert entirely through headphones that emphasized fidelity over volume. The show could only be experienced through these headphones, which allowed for safe sound levels and cut out all of the background noise that only adds to the decibel level around you. It’s an important movement started by someone who knows the debilitating effects of hearing loss. Ander also struggles with serious tinnitus which means that his hearing loss is harshly loud.
Explaining the backstory behind the release of his new album, Ander said, “Dear Paige is an indie-pop time-capsule that spans the years surrounding my daughter’s birth. It begins with the loss of my hearing, and ends with the loss of my father. It offers hope to a world facing the threat of climate change and explores how music and art are imperative for moving us in the right direction. It’s a story about falling in love with Paige’s mother, meeting Paige for the first time, and helping her cultivate curiosity and compassion despite this challenging era she was born into.”
Musically, Dear Paige features thoughtful vocal lines, gleaming guitar riffs, and enthusiastic instrumentation. Thematically, the songs touch on issues such as climate change, humanity in general, and the pain of loss. It’s a refreshing and original release that’s long overdue within the music industry. So with the guidance of Ander, turn those headphones down, think about your well-being, and reclaim the silence in your life.