main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
David Sylvian
David Sylvian is a an English born singer/songwriter/musician/photographer/poet/all around artsy kind of guy who may be best known as the lead singer of the late 70's/early 80's new wave band Japan. He has been a prolific solo artist since 1982. His early solo work was slow, dark, and soft and progressed towards a jazz feel as the years went on. His more recent work has incorporated a lot of "ambient sound", which has been off putting to some fans. Sylvian has collaborated with a variety of musicians including Ryuichi Sakamoto, Robert Fripp, and John Butcher. He has also recorded albums with Nine Horses and Rain Tree Crow (the latter being a low key reformation of Japan). Sylvian was married to Prince protege Ingrid Chavez from 1992 until 2003.
  • Bi the Way: David mentioned in the 80s that he had slept with men as well as women, but he didn't have much interest in sex. Many thought he was gay when he would wear makeup in Japan's early days, so this doesn't come as much of a surprise.
  • Cover Version: With Japan, he covered Don't Rain On My Parade by Barbra Streisand, All Tomorrow's Parties by The Velvet Underground, I Second That Emotion by The Miracles and Ain't That Peculiar by Marvin Gaye. Early on, the band often performed a cover of The Rolling Stones' Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) live and recorded an unreleased studio demo of it, as well as recorded unreleased cover versions of The Velvet Underground's Venus In Furs, Bob Marley And The Wailers' I Shot The Sheriff, The Isley Brothers' This Old Heart Of Mine, and an unreleased Chic cover believed to be Le Freak.
  • Creator Backlash: He spent a long time trying to distance himself from his former band Japan, especially their first two albums Adolescent Sex and Obscure Alternatives, but he has warmed up in recent years. Whilst he was never completely satisfied with the later period of Japan (except for Quiet Life), Sylvian still believes Ghosts is one of his finest achievements.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first two Japan albums, and to an extent Quiet Life, feature David using a rather different vocal style to his later smoother work. Also, the first album Adolescent Sex is very guitar and synth heavy, with lyrics predominantly about dancing and comparing relationships to political events (something that was very popular in glam rock). Sylvian's appearance was rather different then, with long dyed blond hair and makeup (the other members of Japan had similar styles, because Sylvian wanted to make the group stand out).
  • Follow The Leader: Sylvian himself was heavily inspired by the New York Dolls, David Bowie and Roxy Music. Asian and jazz influences influenced him more and more as he went on. His detractors constantly mention the Roxy Music influence. Duran Duran were heavily inspired by Japan and are often considered to be their spiritual successors. The band were recording their self titled debut near where Japan were recording Gentlemen Take Polaroids, and rumour has it that they chose that studio just so they could meet the band.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Whilst he's had considerable success elsewhere, he is a huge star in Japan. It started with his band Japan, who quickly became popular thanks to their name and their dress sense, which was a chief influence on the Visual Kei genre. Sylvian strengthened his relationship with Japanese audiences by being good friends with musicians such as Ryuichi Sakamoto and Masami Tsuchiya, and having a Japanese girlfriend during the 80s, Yuka Fujii, who is responsible for many of his photos. Many special releases of his were only released in Japan.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Despite fan requests, his jazzy B Side Blue Of Noon has never appeared on CD, which is largely because he overlooked it for Everything And Nothing, and is no longer with Virgin. Several Japan tracks (various single mixes and fan club flexidiscs) have never appeared on CD either, but it's unlikely he particularly cares about that. A pre-Adolescent Sex rehearsal session has not been unreleased on CD and probably never will. The original version of Some Kind Of Fool (a Gentlemen Take Polaroids outtake pulled at the last minute and eventually revoiced for Everything And Nothing) is unlikely to appear on CD, though crude fan recordings of it being played at a Bamboo Party in the 80s circulate.
  • Name's the Same: The Velvet Underground and Simple Minds both recorded different songs called European Son, although the Japan title was probably inspired by the Velvets' song. Many bands have recorded songs called Ghosts.
  • New Sound Album: All of them, but the two that are particularly worth mentioning are the Japan album Quiet Life, in which he shows off his deeper voice, ballad and Asian influences for the first time, and the solo album Blemish, which began his current experimental career.
  • No Export for You: As noted above, his popularity in Japan means he has released exclusives over there. Among them are the only 2CD edition of the complete Exorcising Ghosts compilation (the CD release elsewhere was a 1CD distillation), the original 2CD edition of Gone To Earth (belatedly released elsewhere in Weatherbox and eventually in the remasters), the Japan compilation The Singles (which contains a number of previously vinyl exclusives not found anywhere else) and several flexidiscs for the Japanese fan club.
  • Old Shame: He feels this way about some of his work with his band Japan, particularly their debut album Adolescent Sex. Sylvian believes it took him several years to find his experimental sound.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: This is the general consensus about his album Manafon, which is truly divisive. Some consider it a masterpiece, others consider it pretentious noise.

David IvesAdministrivia/Creator Pages in MainDavis Cleveland

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy