Having played as a bassist in various bands over the past decade, James Page reinvented himself as singer-songwriter, Sivu. Producing soft vocals to accompany acoustic guitar, Sivu is one of the latest in the alternative-pop genre. Having recently supported London Grammar and Stornoway, we sat down with Sivu at the end of his own tour to talk Frank Sinatra, pasties and MRI machines.
So Sivu is your stage name. Where did that come from?
My name is James Page, as in Jimmy Page from the guitar player of Led Zeppelin. That wasn’t a conscious thing but it was an issue. I was always playing under that name. Because I started different writing different songs I decided I wanted to move away from me as a person. I wanted to do something quite simple and short. I literally used Google translate. Sivu is Finnish for Page so it kept my surname.
How would you sum up your music to someone who hasn’t heard you before?
I’ve been saying alternative-pop. I think there’s definitely a pop element to it and I like alternative music. I feel like there’s a strong folk element to it as well. I have just been saying alternative but I guess all of those three things together.
Where do you take your influences from?
I was always writing my acoustic stuff under my own name. But the Sivu stuff started when I started listening to more artists. Almost more like songwriters, like Björk and Beck who are kind of, again, just singer-songwriters but in terms of production and the way that they put themselves across is just a bit different. So that was something that I really wanted to try and do. Not be so standard with it and try and do something a bit more interesting. Artists like that really inspire me, but I grew up listening to artists like Frank Sinatra. My parents love him and Louis Armstrong so that is something that I grew up loving, and Johnny Cash.
Recently you supported London Grammar on their tour, how was that?
It was strange because I didn’t know too much about them really when the tour came through. It was just like, great. Then their album came out and they just became massive. They’re so nice and lovely as well. But yeah, that tour was amazing, it was just such a great opportunity because every night all of the venues were sold out and you were just playing to packed out crowds every night. It was great fun and like I said, they’re so lovely and really young and just really level headed. Totally oblivious to everything that’s going on around them, they weren’t dicks or anything.
Do you have a most memorable gig of your own?
For the second date of this tour with Marika Hackman, we played the Lexington in London and I think that was actually my favourite show of this year. That one and we played in France at Les Inrocks Festival in Paris and that was amazing.
So the current tour has been going well?
Yeah, it has been brilliant man, really fun. Obviously I’m a big fan of Marika’s and we spoke about doing it and we’ve only done 5 dates but it has been really good. London we sold out and Cambridge was packed. All of the crowds have been really lovely and chilled and we’ve both been doing really stripped back sets to be honest. We’re just doing it chilled and we do some songs together as well at the end of the set. It’s really fun.
You filmed the video for Better Man Than He in an MRI machine in London. What was the thinking behind that?
My best friend Adam makes music videos and because it was the first I wanted to make a bold statement with it. In terms of visuals, we wanted to do something really strong that would set it apart from anything else that had been done before. Adam, the director, who luckily enough is my flatmate just contacted Bart’s hospital and said, “we want to shoot this video in an MRI machine, what’s the deal?” They were really up for it on the basis they used all of the visual stuff for their own medical research. And any money that we had, we donated to a charity that went to the hospital. So we just did it and it was great and on the video on YouTube you can donate to the cleft palate treatment charity.
What’s coming up next for Sivu?
The album is pretty much finished. We’ve been in the studio for about six weeks. It’s not quite finished but I think the plan is after this tour to go in the studio early next week, finishing that off. Then next year just lots and lots of touring. So just constantly, I think we’re literally gonna’ be playing as many shows next year and trying to build some sort of fan base of some kind. But yeah, it should be fun.
If you had your own festival and could choose 3 headliners, who would you go for?
That’s such a good question. Okay, right. I would definitely have Johnny Cash. I would have At The Drive-In as another one. And I would have… one more… okay I’d have Beck. Okay, I’m going to do four, I’m sorry. Beck would be main support and then Frank Sinatra would be main. So let’s confirm that again. It would be Johnny Cash, second night would be At The Drive-In. Then it would be Beck as main support for Frank Sinatra. That would sell pretty quickly!
Finally, what’s your favourite pasty filling?
It’s gotta’ be a Cornish pasty. Keepin’ it simple.
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