“Sylvia Black is one of the most powerful bass players I’ve ever worked with, female or male. She is a groove master who can be relied on to play the unexpected, in the best possible way.” – Tony Visconti ( Producer/ Bassist: David Bowie, T Rex, Iggy Pop… )
Bio by – Craig Roseberry
Sylvia Black is aVocalist with styles ranging from jazz to country to gospel to opera. A US Patent owner. Bassist. Motion graphics artist. Video director. Multi-talented and multi-faceted vocalist/songwriter/musician/performer/producer and restlessly creative femme fatale ‘SYLVIA BLACK’/ BETTY BLACK is hard to pin down. This left-handed outsider took the left hand path from a family entrenched in the tech world and went the artist’s way.
A background in punk and jazz during her formidable years led her in many directions. ‘Intensity and quality’ being the only framework. She may be once best known as the voice of New York’s fiery electronic pop-rock trio KUDU. Directly after coming to NY fresh from her school days at Berklee College of Music, where she received honors and her degree form the hands of David Bowie in electric bass, Sylvia had brief bass playing stints with the likes of N’Dea Davenport ( Brand New Heavies ), Kamaal The Abtract ( Q Tip ), and Muzz Skillings (Living Color) before she put aside her bass for a considerable time. She has also recorded and/or written for acts such as MOBY, DAPHNE GUINNESS, France’s TELEPOPMUSIK, BLACK EYED PEAS (as co-writer on “Meet Me Halfway”, the 3rd Top 10 single from the group’s Grammy winning, multiplatinum album THE E.N.D. , which went #1 in 19 countries)… and more. Sylvia has written the winning hits for Germany’s The Voice as well as German Idol with ‘Do You Like What You See‘ and ‘The One‘ written for 2014/2015 winners Ivy Quainoo and Aneta Sablik. Sylvia has an impressive knack for writing engaging rhyme schemes and poetic lyrics that are accessible and arrestingly visual.
Most recently Sylvia has:
-Completed 2 lounge/jazz albums worth of material she likes to call ‘Tiki Noir’ with releases TBD as well as is wrapping up an album she is producing, writing, and arranging in collaboration with Lydia Lunch
– Spent the past few years living out of a suitcase, gathering inspiration from the various country landscapes from California to Texas to Virginia where her family and friends live. All the while Sylvia has been writing, recording, and spot performing around LA or NY. The culmination of her travels resulted in the 2016 release of the Betty Black album, ‘Valley Low‘
– Started yet another project in New York to help quell her jazz background and theatrical side. With this project, she has played several long term residencies in NY at Happy Ending and the coveted Friday night spot at The Roxy Hotel. ‘Betty Black’s Blue Lounge’ is a sometimes effervescent and kitschy, or sometimes treading the haunting dark depths, live lounge act utilizing the best live musicians New York has to offer, on vibraphones, upright bass, synth, jazz drums, and sometimes horns to turn only the best loved Punk and Rock songs in to languid luxurious downtempo pleasures ( Think The Ramones, Blondie, The Buzzcocks, Psychedelic Furs ). Also working Not-so-standard jazz standards, dusky blues hits, and original songs wrapped in a mysterious David Lynchian aesthetic. Sylvia currently wrapping up recording and mixing on the ‘Blue Lounge’ album due for release by end of 2017. LISTEN HERE
– And is also currently spot date touring internationally, from China, Russia, Europe, to the South Pacific and South America, with French Electronic band Telepopmusik, as a WRITER/VOCALIST for the past few years.
-As well, Sylvia is currently the BASSIST for feminist icon, and the fiercely original songstress ,and long time Morrissey opening act, Kristeen Young
Sylvia Black‘s erotically-charged, velveteen vocals possess the raw emotion and evocative intensity of classic female punk and new wave icons like SIOUXSIE SIOUX, POLY STYRENE (of X-RAY SPEX), BOW WOW WOW’s tribal sensualist ANNABELLA LWIN and MISSING PERSONS’ DALE BOZZIO, coupled with the unhinged sexuality of BETTY PAGE and a vocal range that easily matches the best of today’s jazz singers…not to mention her skilled bass playing whether holding it down, backing herself while singing, or with uncanny dexterity solely as the bassist for even the most winding progressive musical styles. Sylvia was recognized by her own professors of music above all other students and received the Chair Award for her bass playing skills from Berklee College of Music her graduating year as well as receiving her degree from the hands of David Bowie himself.
Often working under her alias, BETTY BLACK, the dynamic chanteuse delves deep into the cobwebbed subconscious for her past and future releases to summon a chilling collection of slow-burning, southern gothic, murder ballads that unravel into unflinchingly heartfelt narratives floating on languid melodies somewhere between NICK CAVE and PJ HARVEY, CAROL KING and PATSY CLINE, BOB DYLAN and LEE HAZELWOOD, DOLLY PARTON and NINA SIMONE. The result is a rich sonic tapestry that is harrowingly intimate, hopelessly romantic and hauntingly tender, and occasionally waxes nostalgic for the early ‘80s post-punk era (ingeniously reinventing new wave, alt rock and pop classics from the likes of MADONNA, BLONDIE, and BUZZCOCKS as incandescent psychodramas).
During the mid ’00s, Sylvia Black was originally best known from her start in the NYC-based trio KUDU (which also features Deantoni Parks and Nick Kasper). Featured in the New York Times and many other notable publications, KUDU has been hailed as “one of New York’s most caustic, daringly inventive and criminally underrated dark electronic dance-pop outfits” whose unique sound effortlessly taps into the stylistic dexterity, raw energy and twisted inventions of new wave (circa ’81) and Detroit techno (circa ’91) creating a charismatic and gloriously decadent, “neon-pop” hybrid New York Press described as “raw, powerful, and darkly melodic- last-party-before-you-die music.”
KUDU‘s genre-hopping sound ingeniously melds dark synth-pop, gritty voodoo-rock, black metal and arty “no wave” experimentation with feverish punk, glittery future disco, narcotic cabaret and nihilistic electronic dance grooves underscored by gripping vocals, razor-sharp lyrics, infectious melodies, thunderous drums and maniacal bass synths.
It’s not surprising that the group became the darlings of New York’s underground music scene, attracting critical acclaim, a loyal cult following, and enormous respect among fellow artists including MOBY, ME’SHELL N’DEGEOCELLO, SADE, BASEMENT JAXX, NEW ORDER bassist PETER HOOK, THE MARS VOLTA, JOHN CALE and seminal New York post-punk/industrial outfit GRAY (JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT’S former band featuring VINCENT GALLO). Their seismic sophomore album ‘DEATH OF THE PARTY’ was released in 2006, followed by the acclaimed remix album ‘BACK FOR MORE’ in 2008, which featured the cream of international dance and electronic talent including SINDEN, TOMMIE SUNSHINE, ARMAND VAN HELDEN, KING BRITT, HESS IS MORE, DROP THE LIME and many others.
Nick and D have since gone on to form the production Company, ‘Dark Angels’ and have recently scored the film for Paul Schrader’s ( Taxi Driver, Raging Bull ) directorial debut ‘Dog Eat Dog’ starring Nicholas Cage and Willem Defoe. D ( Deantoni Parks ) is also world renowned for his drumming and has been tapped to play for legendary John Cale, Mars Volta, Michelle N’Degeocello, and many more. Nick and D remain musical partners with the incredible unheard album, ‘Last Laugh’ from KUDU/Dark Angels still waiting in the wings. LISTEN HERE
Sylvia finds no fear in tackling unknown territories in music and considers any genre simply another color to paint her musical tapestry with. This is evidenced by her first musical paying job at age 17 where Sylvia was hired for a 3 month contract to sing entirely in Japanese in the resort Hotel New Mitoya in Northern Japan. In late 2009, Gordon was tapped to reinvent an updated version of the classic Bollywood theme “Tel Mallish” (aka “Sar Jo Tera”) to be sung in Hindi and to be used over the end credits of the upcoming Indian film ‘Road Movie’ written and directed by acclaimed Director Dev Benegal (distributed by Tribeca Films), and featuring a score from Golden Globe nominated guitarist, producer and composer Michael Brook.
PR: Aleix Martinez Aleixfmartinez@gmail.com
VALLEY LOW – Betty Black
BACK FOR MORE: A REMIX COLLECTION [Nublu, 2008]
DEATH OF THE PARTY [Nublu, 2006]
THE RED ALBUM [Velour, 2001]
SINGLES & EPs
FEVER/TRY ME ANYWAY – Telepopmusic
BACK FOR MORE: A REMIX COLLECTION 2 (4-Track Vinyl 12”) [Nublu, 2009]
BACK FOR MORE: A REMIX COLLECTION 1 (4-Track Vinyl 12”) [Nublu, 2008]
“PLAYING HOUSE” (Remixes) [Nublu, 2005]
“BAR STAR” (Remixes) [Nublu, 2005]
BOOM BOOM EP [Nublu, 2004]
AS FEATURED VOCALIST/WRITER
“Starlight” RUN DMT (self titled EP feat. Betty Black) 4th Wall Records 2013
“Try Me Anyway/Fever” EP (BETTY BLACK for TELEPOPMUSIK) Splendid Records 2013
“TEL MALLISH” (SYLVIA BLACK, from the feature film Road Movie) 
“CITY FOR SALE” (FLOPPY SOUNDS FEAT. DEVON DUNAWAY & SYLVIA GORDON, Single) [Wave Music, 2009]
“LAST NIGHT” (MOBY, Last Night CD) [Mute, 2008]
“PLAYING HOUSE” and “YOUR WORDS”(ARMAND VAN HELDEN, Ghettoblaster CD) [Ultra, 2007]
“B.O.O.T.A.Y.” and “PU$$Y” (SPANK ROCK, Spank Rock and Benny Blanco Are… Bangers & Cash CD) [Downtown, 2007]
“NOBODY KNOWS” and “STARING AT THE SUN” (P’TAAH, Staring at the Sun CD)
“RAIN DOWN” (ANANDA PROJECT, Morning Light CD) [Nite Grooves/King Street, 2003]