Stuck In My Mind: Silvi Wersing of Chorusgirl on being an introvert creative

Stuck In My Mind: Silvi Wersing of Chorusgirl on being an introvert creative

As part our Inner World series exploring creative natures and what it means to be a creative Silvi Wersing of dreampop band Chorusgirl talks about being an introverted creative and why her inner world is so important to her her songwriting. 

Inner World - original image DSC_9246 by Studio5Graphics is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“I often wonder about how introverts in the other arts fare. I should think that illustration, visual arts and writing all lend themselves to introversion however, how do introverts work in film, which is an intensely collaborative medium? I’m endlessly fascinated by that.”

Silvi Wersing, the songwriter and musician behind the Chorusgirl name, has come to the conclusion she writes music ‘to heal her 16-year-old loner self’. Across two albums of shimmering dreampop, Wersing drenches her long-held dreams in reverb and surfaces her feelings and fears in rich yet ethereal tones, tempering the uncertainty of youth with a maturity of songwriting. 

Silvi Wersing of ChorusgirlHer songs speaks of the ennui of growing up in a small town, of the sense of being the sort who is always ‘watching the sun through storm clouds’, and the disconnect coming from the realisation you’ve coloured your inner world in vibrant Technicolor but can only muster a grainy black and white around others in your day-to-day outer life.

Chorusgirl are absolutely the sort of band you fall in love with deeply and forever after your first listen. As they gently soundtrack your most brutal thoughts and moments, their music beats in time with your faltering heart and they lend you their strength through revealing their own vulnerabilities. This is a band who have long sat with their own thoughts yet found a way to share them without awkwardness. 

Over the course of writing and recording both albums – first the self-titled debut released on FortunaPOP! in 2015, followed by ‘Shimmer and Spin’ on Reckless Yes in 2018 – Wersing has realised and accepted her introvert nature and begun to learn how to use it to her creative advantage rather than feel more isolated. It is the introspection which comes with being introvert which mean her songs are deeply personal, moments and feelings played on repeat forever, often spiralling and sometimes wavering before opening out into vast soundscapes slanted intensely with light and shade. 

Stuck In My Mind

“I only found out what introversion was when a friend sent me the Myers-Briggs test for a laugh four years ago. I took the test and to my surprise, the description fitted me perfectly. I’ve spent most of my life feeling uncomfortable and misunderstood and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so well described by a few paragraphs of text.

“I’m German and the test is not well known in Germany; I only learned later that it is commonly used in schools and at work in the UK and the US. And that a lot of people hate it. Nowadays whenever I mention it to a friend or acquaintance, nine times out of 10 I just get endless eye rolls. It is true that the test is not particularly scientific. However, the Big 5 personality test is and it is in essence pretty similar to the Myers-Briggs. But anyway, it has helped me hugely to have words to describe how I feel.”

Wersing’s introversion, and the introspection which comes alongside it, still take her by surprise. ‘Shimmer and Spin’ wasn’t an easy album to birth as the outside world seemed to conspire against the band throwing everything from the closure of much loved label FortunaPop!, family illness, evictions, van crashes plus the unravelling national narrative of Brexit toward them. Although creativity doesn’t only find a footing in the cracks it was these circumstances which became the fertile ground from which stress levels shot causing Wersing to escape into writing, spending more time on her own in her inner world. 

“I felt like an outsider my entire life; always into different things than my peer group – too serious, too emotional, too sensitive, too sad, too quiet, too slow, too introspective. Too much of the bad boring stuff, not enough of the outgoing fun stuff.

“When I read about introversion for the first time, it was a relief to learn that I was perfectly normal. And that the way I felt was completely normal and ok. People have huge misconceptions about what introversion means; it just means that you lose energy while socialising, not that you hate people.”

This misconception which entangles the two different traits of introversion and shyness, the societal thinking which rewards those who ‘put themselves out there’ and shout the loudest, can be difficult for many. Wersing, like many creatives, is energised by her own thoughts but is not a misanthrope. 

“I have no problem talking to strangers; I love meeting new people and I can be lively and chatty, but I will feel drained at some point. I am very happy when I’m by myself, lost in some thought process. I recharge by being alone and regain my balance and have my best insights when by myself.

“I have always been like this. I wish I had had a name for this concept when I was a teenager. I only knew that I was very different from everyone else and I hated it. I still often catch myself being jealous of extroverts and their easy-going nature, but I’ve gotten a lot better at making peace with being introverted.”

The eternal chorusgirl

“When it comes to making music, being an introvert has posed different issues. I’ve been in many different bands in the past 20 years; there were bands that I started with my friends, democratic bands, two- to five-pieces, other people’s solo projects. I never wanted to be the band leader. I always thought you had to be very extroverted to do that. And the extroverts in those bands automatically assumed those roles anyway.

“I never felt confident enough to front a band or even sing lead vocal. For many years, I just wanted to be the bassist in the background. Only after all of these bands fizzled out, did I realise that I had to start up my own thing if I wanted to keep making music. I stepped up and away from being the eternal chorusgirl. All of a sudden, I found I had to be the band leader.”

Introversion might lend itself to some aspects of the creative process more readily than others, but it was all part of the changing role Wersing found herself taking on as a musician and in leading Chorusgirl, rather than something in her nature she had to completely overcome. 

“I didn’t have problems making the decisions, writing the songs, developing the vision, managing the project, recording the songs. The thing that I found difficult was to lead the group but you grow into that and just do what needs doing. Whereas before, I felt unsure of what to say to an audience, I just started to trust myself and trust that the audience is there to will you on and is on your side, so that became easy after a while.

“I’m generally at my happiest when I’m writing song demos at home. I have endless patience when I’m hunting for the right sound. I experience flow easily when I slowly try and zone in on the right music for each song, and I never get bored while doing this. This is also how I write lyrics. The music comes first, and then I will set an evening aside, sit on my bed and just stare at the wall, following my thoughts down various corridors, finding the right words. I feel like I’m trying to capture something that is very fluid and elusive.”

The time spent alone writing, recording and finessing fits into the energy of the introvert, but getting those songs in front of people can bring challenges. Even a solo artist creating alone is likely to feel the tidal pull toward performance at some point, and that takes place in a social setting. For an introvert just thinking about going into those situations can begin the slow seep of energy. 

“Generally, I think that the number one thing that is hardest on an introverted musician is being on tour. Spending all your time together, being all day in the van, soundcheck, eating together, sleeping in the same room, getting up and spending another day in the same way. I love touring; there is nothing like playing shows night after night. Traveling, taking your songs to a lot of people, new conversations with the audience every night. And getting really good at what you do. I usually absolutely relish the time we’re on stage. Sometimes magical things happen when you play together with other musicians. But being constantly around people can be hard, no matter how much you love them.

“I’ve always felt that extroverts deal with touring a lot better, and that they’re wired for touring. I have to manage my touring in a different way; make sure I get a bit of quiet time now and again. That can be hard when there’s never any green rooms or any time between soundcheck, getting dinner, and playing the show. Before each gig, I absolutely have to get into the zone as well. I need a bit of quiet time before we go on stage to gather my thoughts and focus. Otherwise, I will feel frazzled and unhappy.”

In Dreams

From playing in other’s bands to forging her own path Wersing has found the dynamic as hard to navigate as her nature. Going through several line-up changes around her she is the heart of Chorusgirl but still feels a missed beat in working that out how to work. 

“I often wish my journey as an artist hadn’t taken such a long time. If I could go back I would give permission to my younger self to just forge my own path. Not everyone is set up for collaboration, and collaboration is mostly only great if the other person works in a similar way. There are different ways of working and you have to find the right one that suits you. I spent many years worrying about whether I was doing it right, and I thought that there were rules as to what makes a good artist.

Silvi Wersing of Chorusgirl“It is ok to shut yourself off from too many outside influences. Some artists need outside inspiration and like listening to music, going to shows or seeing art. I’m much more worried about distraction and when I write songs, I don’t listen to other music. Outside inspiration is an unwelcome distraction to me when I try to find my sound.

“I see writing an album like going through a tunnel. You zone in on something and other art is a distraction. That is okay. This is where personality tests really helped me; the descriptions helped me understand my very specific type of creativity. I take inspiration and influences in the months when I’m not writing and let them percolate. Once I start writing, I usually try and shut out the world a bit.”

Now with a far deeper understanding of her own nature, which comes with age as much as the discovery of a Myers-Briggs system, Wersing is curious about how introverts find their balance within creativity but mostly is coming to acceptance that even within a common type creativity is intensely personal. 

“How can you run a big film set and be an introvert? I guess you end up being like a conductor, and you really have to trust the people you work with. I’ve been reading the interview book with Stanley Kubrick, who is a fellow introverted intuitive. There’s a few interesting passages in there about how to work with others. There’s a great quote in it, ‘Shooting a movie is the worst milieu for creative work ever designed by man’.

“I think music sits somewhere in the middle; neither does it need to involve a large group of people but it’s also not a solitary activity. It is ok to do your own thing; you just have to commit to it.”

See Chorusgirl live

  • 6 November – Colours, London – w/ Berries and The Frankleys – tickets
  • 15 November – CCA, Glasgow – w/ Cloth and Lemon Drink – tickets

Where to find Chorusgirl

Inner World is our regular feature about creative natures. Through conversations with artists we explore what it means to be a creative, where creativity comes from, and how creatives interact with their inner world and the world around them. If you would like to be featured or have a suggestion for a conversation get in touch.

Disclosure: This conversation was between Silvi Wersing and Sarah Lay. Chorusgirl are signed to Reckless Yes, the record label Sarah co-founded. 

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Inner World image (text overlaid as a change to original image): “DSC_9246”by Studio5Graphics is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Sarah Lay

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica.
A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist.
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