Songs to Live by: Sylvaine’s Katherine Shepard

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At its heart, music is all about emotion. One-woman Scandinavian metal outfit Sylvaine, a.k.a. multi-instrumentalist Katherine Shepard, know this. Just listen to Sylvaine’s last album, this year’s Norwegian Grammy-nominated Atoms Aligned, Coming Undoneand you’ll hear a full range of feeling. With this in mind we caught up with Shepard — who performs and writes the vocals, guitars, synthesizers, bass, drums and percussion for her music — to find out what music she listens to for every mood. Read on to find out the songs that the musician turns to when shaking off the morning grogginess, looking for a pick-me-up and more.

When I’m pissed off:
Drudkh – “Summoning the Rain”

I really love Autumn Aurora, and this might be the best track of the record for me. It channels such intensity, anger, frustration … All incapsulated in a lush and vast sound landscape full of emotion. Truly one to get your blood going!


When I’m feeling depressed:
Thomas Newman – “Any Other Name”

I have a strong memory of having played this track on repeat during one of the darkest periods I went through, many years ago now. This piece holds a real profound sense of melancholy, yet manifests in such a simple way. Super minimalistic and downright sad. It’s truly perfect, especially when used in the famous scene in American Beauty, with the plastic bag, dancing in the wind …


When I get up in the morning:
Explosions In the Sky – “Your Hand In Mine”

This band holds some of the most loving, soft and uplifting melodies I have found within music and I love them dearly for it. This song is one of my favorites, from the amazing album The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place and is a song I often listen to earlier in my day. It just gives a positive spin to everything.


When I go to bed:
Bohren & Der Club of Gore – “Staub”

“Staub” is the first track I discovered by Bohren & Der Club of Gore and I instantly fell in love. This dark, jazzy, yet spacy and atmospheric piece is one of my favorites when unwinding from a hectic day. It lulls you into a meditative state immediately. The rest of the album Dolores is wonderful, as well.

When I’m hungover:
Warning – “Watching From a Distance”

Seeing as I don’t drink myself, I decided to go for a track to accompany those days that might feel a bit off somehow or just a bit lower spirit-wise. “Watching From a Distance” is the soundtrack to accompany the darkest of ones days, yet offering comfort thru its beautiful melodies, performed in the most emotional way by the pleading voice of main man Patrick Walker.


When I’m getting it on:
Type O Negative – “Love You to Death”

Think this must be an obvious choice, as the song is not only a compositional and productional masterpiece, but it’s oh so sensual, as well. Definitely not the only Type O Negative track that could be used in this context, but it the first one that popped into my mind when reading the question. [Laughs]


Song I most want to be remembered for:
Mørklagt – “Mørklagt”

I think every artist has a special connection with each track they create thru out their musical career, but there’ll always be a special few that truly resonate deeply within, each time it’s heard or performed on stage. “Mørklagt” is one of two tracks like that from my latest album, Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone, and is one that I still feel great pride over when listening to it today. It holds so many things, so many impulses and expresses perfectly the different emotions residing within Sylvaine as a project.


Song I wish I wrote:
Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Wow, that is an incredibly tough one to answer … There are way too many masterpieces out there, to just narrow this question down to one track, so I’ll go for one I’m sure almost every musician wished they had written at one time or another during their life! [Laughs] It really is a fantastic track, with incredible energy and powerful simplicity!


Songs I want played at my funeral:
Austin Wintory – “Apotheosis”

One of the most inspiring and overwhelming discoveries I made in the recent years, was when playing the game Journey in early 2019. The soundtrack in this game, the story, the landscapes … No words can explain the feeling I got from all of it. It’s perfect. This last track of the game is just magnificent and feels like the natural conclusion to any journey.