Interview: Seekae

What do Romanian club nights, Japanese cars and award winning live music have in common? Seekae‘s George Nicholas talks about their music making cocktail.

seekae

Earlier this year, three Sydney-based electronic musicians sold out local venue Tone, with lines queued round the block trying to get in. They played to a packed room despite having released nothing new in almost three years, but people came with the vague hope that they’d be hearing something from the band’s much anticipated follow up record. The band in question is Seekae, and since wowing the crowd that night with songs past and present, they’ve put the final touches on their second album +Dome.

Band member George Nicholas loved every second of the recent sell-out headline show. “That was awesome, that was really fun,” he enthuses. “It was a really quick turnaround of ideas, I was going on holidays the day after that and we really wanted to do a show…We really weren’t expecting that many people to come because we didn’t have a big marketing campaign or whatever, we didn’t expect for it to sell out so quickly. It was a really nice vibe there and it’s a lovely venue.”

Speedy in arranging shows they may be, but to the untrained eye it would appear Seekae have been taking their sweet time crafting their latest record. And it seems Nicholas would agree, though when asked about his feelings about the impending release of his record, he couldn’t be more jovial if he tried.

“Really good, really excited, it’s been a while since we’ve released anything,” he confesses. “I think the last album was almost two years ago or something so it’s great, I’m really, really, really pumped.”

Though the band haven’t exactly been dormant in the past two years either, touring with a range of local and international acts, even winning an FBi SMAC Award for Best Live Music Act. But the real twist came early 2010, when sharp observers and listeners would have noticed their song Herodotus soundtracking a television commercial for the Hyundai ix35 car. Not bad for three guys, who by Nicholas’ own admission still work ‘shit boring office jobs’ to finance their musical habits.

“It’s just weird seeing something that you’ve worked on sync with something that you really weren’t thinking about when you were working on it, like Japanese cars,” he laughs.

Nonetheless, what most were wondering during this time was – where’s the next record? And Nicholas is the first to point out that it was a labour of love and more than anything, a lot of time.

“We were working, well I mean, working is such a weird word when it comes to making music, we were properly putting a lot of time into making it for about five months or something like that and really focusing on it,” says Nicholas. “It took a while but it was good.”

The end result is a continuation, but also development, of the sound they honed on their debut record The Sound of Trees Falling On People. Where their debut was a dreamlike, almost whimsical swirl of electronics and occasional vocals, in the special case of Wool with Ghoul’s Ivan Vizintin, +Dome is braver in its sonic reachouts, incorporating a chop and change method to vocals and beats, that one may daresay could encourage the listener to dance. To the band though, there was no masterplan to their next step.

“We had thousands of ideas of what we wanted this album to sound like and what kind of tracks we wanted on there,” notes Nicholas. “We had lots of other tracks that were supposed to be on there but got taken off because it didn’t suit it, but there is no grand blueprint to how we want the album to sound. It’s a collation of tracks that fit together and kind of reflect what we’ve been listening to.”

Considering their much lauded live reputation, it comes as some surprise that the thought of songs taking live form doesn’t cross the trio’s mind until much further into the recording process.

“That always comes second, and that’s probably not the way we should do it,” admits Nicholas. “Some songs we write with guitars and drums and synthesisers and do it all live, and it’s really easy to make that translate to the stage, but the majority of the tracks are done on computers collaboratively. We usually get to that stage of ‘Oh, how are we going to do this on stage?’ a bit later on down the track, but we’re getting more and more accustomed to making that process as smooth as possible.”

Nicholas is especially grateful for the FBi SMAC award recognising Seekae’s live chops, for the same reason many an electronic artist needs direct recognition of their performance skills – the audience aren’t often a good indicator.

“It’s not like people are jumping around, crowd surfing and moshing and doing all that kind of stuff,” explains Nicholas about audiences at Seekae shows. “So it was really good to receive some kind of feedback from audiences [with the award].”

Though Nicholas’ self-professed tour highlight of supporting Cloud Control came with its fair share of exuberant fans urgent to share their enthusiasm for Seekae’s music.

“There were a lot of underage shows, and kids just go nuts. People who are under 18, they just love live music so much more than the older audiences,” he says. “From that day on I decided to scream a lot louder and higher at concerts. It does make you feel a lot better when the crowd is going nuts instead of cross-armed and staring at you.”

“I mean, with our music you don’t have to mosh or dance or stuff, you can’t really dance to a lot of it, but at least when the music stops, yell really loud and scream, ‘you guys are awesome’ or something.”

Any other choice phrases you’d like Seekae fans to adopt and yell at appropriate moments between songs? “You guys are so handsome and the way you move on stage, love it,” jokes Nicholas. Duly noted.

As for Seekae’s upcoming plans, there’s all manner of touring in the works, including a trip to the UK where they have been asked to play the prestigious The Great Escape festival, along with a couple of shows around Europe. And you’ll never guess where one of those little Euro shows is being held.

“It was a really weird one,” admits Nicholas. “This guy just emailed us and was like, ‘Hey I run this big night in Romania, in Bucharest, we’d like for you guys to play it.’ And we were just like absolutely, yes, totally.”

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