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Scared of Success: David Sylvian — The Man Who Would Be Invisible

Simon Witter, i-D, November 1987

2019 NOTE: In decades of writing about music, I was only ever once asked to do a hatchet job — on Belouis Some in the early '80s — and of course he proved far too improbably likable for me to go through with it. David Sylvian, on the other hand... I was a metrosexual kid from a middle European background where Japan (and XTC) were the undisputed gods of post punk. But I had never met anyone so insufferably precious, pretentious and generally begging for a good verbal kicking. But that would have been too easy. No, I thought, you're better than that Simon. And so I proceeded to strain every sinew of my being to fight that urge and write a fair, neutral piece about my subject. After it hit the newsstands, a photographer friend of mine was shooting Sylvian who, on learning of our mutual acquaintance, insisted re: this piece: "I don't mind criticism, but that was just bad journalism!" For years I have regretted not having given Sylvian the print drubbing he deserved. But, reading this now for the first time in 30+ years, I realise that I had indeed clearly failed to discuss him and his work with the kind of obeisant respect to which he was accustomed. — SW

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Total word count of piece: 1608

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