Sylvia Tosun: From the Opera to the Top of the Dance Charts

 SYLVIA TOSUN /  Photos by Hyuna Shin, styled by Carlos Davis, makeup by Jasmine Lee

SYLVIA TOSUN / Photos by Hyuna Shin, styled by Carlos Davis, makeup by Jasmine Lee

She has an angelic voice and a golden touch. When Sylvia Tosun isn't making home at the top of the dance music charts - #1 to be precise - she's gracing the NYFW runways. The musical genre-crossing singer/songwriter has talents the rest of us only dream about. From opera to trance, her voice will captivate and mesmerize. The vocalist is in high demand by some of the world's biggest DJs but she's also leaving a mark in the world of fashion, which is one of her other loves. 

This classically trained opera singer has a golden heart too, as beautiful as her voice. Sylvia Tosun uses her public platform to fight for human rights, specifically for the LGBT community. I was fortunate to ask Sylvia questions about her music, fashion and life. Her responses make you love her even more.

Sylvia Tosun Malan Breton NYFW

You recently performed and walked-the-walk at Malan Breton's NYFW show. How did this come about? Describe the experience. Also, how much did you love that dress?! It was gorgeous on you.

Sylvia Tosun: Thank you! Malan is such a delightful and talented friend.  We were introduced a few years ago through our mutual friend and fashion stylist, Carlos Davis. I have always admired Malan’s work and he has been very generous to me with his creations. I wore his designs in a few of my videos and photoshoots including an image that was featured in a recent issue of British Vogue. In that image, photographer Barry Hollywood captured me wearing an intricate brocade Malan couture gown as I held an antique pruning saw in front of a 300-year-old red barn. We loved the contrast of high fashion and rustic farm life. Regarding this recent NY fashion week, Malan totally surprised me with a phone call while I was on my way to the airport to catch a flight to Toronto for Armin van Buuren’s A State of Trance (ASOT) 750 event. I was heading there to join Andrew Rayel onstage for the finale of his set when he closed with our collaboration, “Winterburn.” Coincidentally, Malan was calling me because he had just heard “Winterburn” and said he loved it and had an inspiration for it to be the musical theme for his upcoming show! He wanted to know if I would be willing to do a special performance at his event. Of course, I was thrilled and honored so I said, “Yes!” The experience of the show was memorable: The event was held at Gotham Hall, which is an impressive and grand space, replete with its gorgeous and ornate cathedral ceiling, classic columns, and so on. Showtime was exhilarating! The venue was absolutely packed with reporters, cameras, celebrities and fashionistas. Suddenly, the room went dark and silent as the music began. The musical director for the show, Anton Bass, began the show’s sound by playing the orchestral version of “Winterburn” over the PA; that version was arranged by composer Geert Huinink. This was the very first time anyone would be hearing this version so it was extra special and dramatic.  As the orchestral track swelled, I entered stage-right, illuminated by a spotlight and, wearing Malan’s magnificently hand-stitched white winter gown. I focused on hitting my notes. Internally, I channeled the character of a lovestruck, heart-broken ice queen. The show felt quite theatric. Without missing a beat, the song completed by slamming into the high-energy original version, which was produced by Andrew Rayel & Digital X. The room erupted with energy as the lights flashed brightly and the first model stepped onto the runway! The rest of the show was as dynamic and spirited, musically, thanks to Anton. The show’s director, Luis Villabon, told all of us to have a good time up there and to act as if it was a dance party and that is exactly the type of fun it was.

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In your music videos, your style seems to be a balance of glamour meets edgy. How true to life is that? Do you have favorite designers? Who are your go-to’s?

Sylvia Tosun: That is an accurate description and intentional. In real life, I am a tomboy and I love gardening. I’m a do-it-yourself builder by day, however, I love playing dress-up and being styled in cool fashion at night or when hitting the town, be it New York City or wherever/whenever I’m traveling. I am lucky enough to have my friend and fashion-stylist, Carlos, set me up for any public appearances or photoshoots. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of wearing edgy couture fashion designs of designers like The Blonds and Michael Bevins, and my all-time favorite designer is Alexander McQueen! I have always loved the art of “de-constructed glamour.” It’s certainly an expression of art imitating life. Creation and survival, to me, go hand-in-hand.

Can we talk about your vocals? Such an angelic yet powerful voice... How much of an influence is your classical training within the world of EDM?

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Sylvia Tosun: My classical training certainly comes into play as far as technique.  However, a lot of what brings out the results in my EDM/trance music recordings is the approach taken during the studio sessions. My vocal producer and collaborator, Anton [Bass], has a knack for knowing which buttons to push, both literally in the recording studio and figuratively in helping me use my voice as an instrument in order to create different textures and sounds. I think the training definitely helps with endurance and overall vocal stability but I also believe that singing is a feeling and not necessarily something one has learned. On that level, when I am singing, I am feeling, and that is my influence.

Your latest song, “Winterburn" with Andrew Rayel & Digital X is so beautiful, soothing and poetic.  What can you say about it?

Sylvia Tosun: Thank you! I love that you think it is soothing. “Winterburn” symbolizes a deep, nurturing mother spirit who can be both soft and blanketing like a gentle snowfall or as harsh as an arctic blast that even the mighty sun cannot thwart. The phrase, “I am your Winter,” is an expression of a woman who is confident, nurturing and resilient in the face of adversity.

You've worked with so many amazing artists, including Armin van Buuren. Will you talk about the process of collaboration? Does it differ from artist to artist?

Sylvia Tosun: Well, I haven’t had the pleasure of directly working with Armin yet, but I am so grateful that he has taken an interest and been a supporter of some of my songs, most notably “An Angel’s Love.” It has been a pleasure to collaborate with Andrew Rayel on few songs recently. He is supremely talented and I think we have made a good team with our collaborations because of our shared appreciation for the classical element in the music. The song that I did with Aly & Fila and Roger Shah, “Eye2Eye” was a joy to help create, and as well, having it chosen as the official anthem for their Future Sound of Egypt 350 world tour.  It was a fantastic experience to perform the song, live, at Hammerstein Ballroom, opening Aly & Fila’s set in NYC!  

It makes me happy when people use their public platforms to do good. Please talk about Love Is Love.

Sylvia Tosun: Love is Love was inspired by the moment we were living in. There was this underlying tension in the world with Russia’s intolerant and abhorrent public mistreatment of the LGBT community, while the political debate in the U.S. was showing uncertainty and strong pushback against our social progress. French producer David Vendetta and I were already working on a musical project together known as VenSun at the time and he sent me the track that became “Love is Love.” It’s a universal concept that love should be a freedom which is honored and respected for all.  Coincidentally, the Supreme Court made its ruling on DOMA the exact same month that we began to promote the song.  What are the chances of that? We had no idea that that was coming, and even more serendipitously, President Obama sent out a tweet following that decision using the hashtag #LoveIsLove !  "Today’s DOMA ruling is a historic step forward for #MarriageEquality. #LoveIsLove." It was such a happy moment to be in NYC during gay pride festivities that year.

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What's in your fashion and musical future?

Sylvia Tosun: I have been preparing and rehearsing to perform live shows where I play piano and sing my EDM/trance songs acoustically (in the form that I write them). I will have special guest musicians joining me onstage as well. We’re planning to announce some dates starting in the early summer and hopefully, my friends in the fashion industry will help me out with my look.  Trance in fashion, anyone?

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