Alex Cameron, George Nicholas and John Hassel, under the guise of Seekae, have made quite the name for themselves on the Aussie electronic scene (more about that interesting name below). Head over to their Soundcloud and you’ll find a 40-minute Boiler Room set full of the more industrial side of electronic music, but look just a little further and you’ll spot their latest single ‘Another’, a track that’s perhaps a little more welcoming to the ear drums. Having just signed to Future Classic (Flume, Jagwar Ma, Chet Faker) , Seekae are about to embark on a new journey with their forthcoming LP, due later this year. Before that though, they ever so kindly took the time out to have a little chinwag with us.
Tell us some general things about Seekae.
We had an old name, ‘Commander Keen’, which was taken by another band, so we took the initials from that. We didn’t like the way ‘Seekay’ looked; the ‘y’ was too low. It just didn’t look pretty. In terms of music, we all really wanted to make electronic stuff but John and I (Alex) played rock music. Then, when we were about 17 we got ourselves a keyboard and started to make some little electronic songs. Then we bumped into George who had a drum machine and we were just experimenting with the instruments that we had. It got us in the right mind frame to make weird music.
According to your Wiki page, you’re quite inspired by the UK music scene. Is that fair to say?
We’re influenced by UK artists as there’s not a lot happening electronically in America that excites us compared to the UK. Our sound and our performances change so much all the time that we’re always listening to and being inspired by new and different artists.
What do you mean, do you not count EDM?! *mock shock horror*
(Alex): I don’t even know what that is. I just saw it on the internet one day and thought “I’ll give that a miss”.
In some of your stuff, especially tracks like ‘3’ you can really hear the mixture of guitar/indie music and then the electronic stuff. It seems like these days, people feel that they can be one thing or another, have you ever sat down and gone ‘Right, we need to pick which thing we’re going to do more of’.
The music making process for us is varied, we use a lot of different sounds but we have discussed keeping things streamlined. It’s less about the instruments we use and more about there being a thread through the records. The sounds vary but I think it all comes from a similar place. We never restrict ourselves and say “Let’s make ten songs that are all three minutes long on this album”, but I’d like to try it one day I suppose.
Does it ever become hard to tell a different story through only instrumental tracks? Is that why you have started using vocals more?
One of the main reasons why we started using vocals was because we wanted to be more direct; we wanted to eliminate any ambiguity. Instrumentally, I never felt like we were aiming to tell a particular story, it was “take from it what you can”. But with our latest stuff, we don’t want to be vague, it’s meant to be direct. Lyrics have changed a lot of things for us, in terms of what we’re trying to get across. You can tell a story without lyrics but we were never trying to do that with our instrumental stuff.
You have developed quite a cult following back in Aus, were you not worried that your new direction, songs like ‘Another’, might alienate some of those people?
We always thought that ‘Another’ was a challenging song, it’s understandable how people can think it’s simple, but we found it to be quite specific. We wanted to do something that was ‘of the moment’. We want to take what is considered ‘normal’ and apply some control over it to twist meanings and render a song very meaningful as opposed to ‘mainstream’ and empty.
You’re looking at the negative side of mainstream!
Absolutely! I (John) can’t help but feel that if the song was the same sonically, and the lyrics were changed to something cliché and basic, that alot of people would have the same reaction. For me, lyrically its not a mainstream song at all, sure it’s got a hook but it’s got more to it than that. People struggle to look past that hook or whatever. I don’t feel like people have reacted negatively, people prefer different things. The older records are still there to listen to, we don’t renounce our older work.
The video for ‘Another’ was quite strong visually. Do you have alot of creative input outside of the music?
We have the final say. With that video, we didn’t come up with the concept, but we approached a director and he developed it. I think you get from that video whatever you feel really, but it’s about this urban myth that alcoholics get buried under the building in order to commit their soul to it. There’s something about burying a lama foetus being the real sacrifice but that didn’t look great on camera, and we didn’t fancy a visit from PETA.
Tell us about the new album. What’s it like sonically, are there going to be more vocal hooks like the ones we’ve heard?
The album retains the Seakae sound. Adding vocals will always shift the dynamics but we do pride ourselves on trying to do something that we haven’t done before. The record was made with a range of about 6 synthesizers, a lot of samples and some electronic drums. Some of it has a fullness to it but some of it is quite stark and metallic sounding. It’s primarily electronic.
We don’t have two people to choose from because we haven’t prepared, so you guys should choose two people for this and ask yourself, who is more bang tidy?
Tony Abbot or Barry O’Farrel? Im going with Barry O’Farrel, because of his ignorance. We know who Tony Abbott is so we’re not choosing him. We don’t want to get turned away on the border upon returning home.
You can get hold of ‘Another‘ here, and stay tuned for Seekae’s third studio album, due later this year.