I am kicking this week off…
by speaking with Seaker about her new track, Words, and what the story behind it is. She tells me about recording and creating in London; whether there is more work coming along later in the year; why she moved from the North down to the capital – she reveals a few albums that have impacted her in a big way.
Seaker recommends some new artists to look out for and tells me about gigs; what sort of sounds/artists influence her; what music means to her; how she relaxes away from music – she ends the interview by choosing a classic track.
Hi, Seaker. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, Sam. I'm doing well, thank you; currently treading water in a sea of emails. This is fairly representative of how the week has been so far really, with a rehearsal thrown in. Mind you, it's only Tuesday so the rhythm of the week is yet to fully unfold...
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I'm Kiran and I make music under the name of ‘Seaker’. I have a home studio In North London (U.K.) where I write, flesh out and record most of the songs and then I get little bits of help from a few trusted musical friends. I know lots of artists will feel this but I find it hard to align with one particular genre. It is Pop at its core.
I like layers of dreamy sounds and harmonies and music that crawls from delicate tiny-ness into a rushing waterfall of big drums, pianos and all that filmic stuff. It's an ongoing journey to get the sound right.
Words is a title attached to many songs. I have heard none that stick in the mind as long as yours. Can you tell me how the song came to mind and what it means to you?
That's kind of you to say - and I'm glad it resonated with you on some level.
I didn't name the song until it was finished. I've always liked the idea of starting with a title and fleshing out a song from there, but it doesn't seem to happen that way with me. I often write songs based on a fragment of a feeling I have and that can come from anywhere. I, somehow, turn that feeling into a story in my head, often with characters. It's very emotion-led and, sometimes, it's like I'm being guided rather than actually coming up with ideas.
Words emerged after I was chatting with a friend about relationship experiences and, later, I started to think about how, as adults, we never stop being vulnerable and this can manifest in behaviours in relationships that can make us spiky or negative, when, actually, our heart is saying something else or really, in that moment, just crying out for love. This is also a track about wanting to be enough for someone, flaws and all. ‘Words’ felt like the right title - as it's often hard to find the right ones.
It seems people are already reacting heavily to the track. How important is it seeing those great reviews and positive words?
I'm glad it appears that way!
I'm not sure that's how it feels, to be honest. It can be quite emotionally draining when you're doing your own press as, no matter how much you want to intellectualise the process and separate yourself from the track so as not to take anything too personally - in reality, that is hard. I'm such a sensitive person deep down that sometimes it can feel a bit soul-destroying and like you're shouting into an abyss and no one is listening or cares. At the same time, I have had some amazing support from lovely people and I am so grateful for that.
If you're feeling a little defeated, it feels euphoric when someone takes the time to listen and get back to you with a positive response and there are some really decent, lovely people out there no matter what you might hear about this industry. It's such an honour when you find them and they support you. It isn't the primary motivation, but good reviews help keep you going mentally as well as being a boost musically.
Do you see more material arriving later this year? Is your North London home quite a hive of songwriting activity?
There will be another track in a couple of months-ish, as my aim is to get a regular flow of material happening. I have been the queen of the stop-start approach (not purposefully!) and have had huge gaps between past songs - mainly because I was doing every step from the writing to the press, so it all took ages. I have had a little bit of help with production this time around and it has sped up the process. I hope I can keep some momentum going this time. That's the aim.
When I'm not doing promo with every spare minute, I am writing a lot of the time. I miss it so much at the moment as the past three weeks have been solid admin. I'll get my writing time back very soon though and I can't wait.
What compelled the move from the North down to London? Do you think London is a place that offers opportunities others do not?
I actually went further North before coming South, as I went to university in Edinburgh so lived there for four years. I was on a different path for a while - possibly into Psychology in some way. The yearning for music got too much for me to ignore and I knew if I chose to do anything else I would end up being unhappy so I decided to move to London but saw out my degree as I was over halfway through it by then. A lot of my family live here and I've been visiting regularly since I was a child. Both of my brothers are here so, apart from the fact that it's a good place to be for musical development, it was an obvious place to move to anyway and I wanted to live here.
I think there are opportunities here, obviously, but, as time goes on, perhaps it's becoming easier to manage things from elsewhere. I think that once you're at a certain point in your career you certainly don't need to be in London and can run things from anywhere really. People do so many different things and settle in so many different ways; I think what you make of things anywhere is more down to the individual than anything else. That said, you will probably need to come to London at some point for a meeting or a show.
Give me a sense of your musical tastes – it seems you have a wide range of influences. Who, would you say, are the main role models in terms of sound and aesthetic?
I'm quite a visual writer and thinker, so I think imagery informs my writing as much as other music in many ways. I often think of vast landscapes or war scenes, or anything with an epic filmic vibe when I am writing. Ever since I saw Robin Hood Prince of Thieves when I was a kid, I have daydreamt about scenes from that film and being in them. I sometimes see them when I listen back to my tracks. That film definitely sparked something in me, which is still there in my creativity process now. I was transfixed as a kid and I still carry that feeling sometimes.
Sound-wise, bits and pieces from all over the place influence me. I love the swooning guitar style of Mark Knopfler; the delicate balance of dynamics that Ry X seems to pull off so well, plus his aesthetic is so dreamy, which I love. At the moment, I am obsessed with the drum sounds in a heap of Daughter tracks. They do delicate to epic so well. Bat for Lashes and Lykke Li are two more modern influences as I particularly love their individuality and commitment to the art. The dialogue of Leonard Cohen and the way he could dress up a love song into something melancholic has impacted the way I write and shape sound. I'll always be in awe of that man.
Sade is another big influence, musically, aesthetically and personally. She is musical royalty to me. There are so many others but I have a terrible memory. I apologise.
If you could articulate what music means and why it resonates with you, what would you say? Is songwriting something that lets you be open and free in a unique and beautiful way?
For me, songwriting is cathartic and necessary. My head fills up with so many thoughts that sometimes writing a song feels like the only way I can stay connected to the earth without losing the plot. I get really antsy and nothing seems to make sense to me if I go for a long period of no writing. It doesn't even feel like a choice really…
It's clichéd, but music has transfixed me since I was a small child. My dad is a huge music fan so there was always music around and my whole life is intertwined in one long soundtrack. Certain songs instantly take me back to being seven years old and I can still feel now what I felt then. It is so powerful. Nothing does that to me in the same way. I've been close with some art and poetry, but sound does something extra to me.
Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?
At the moment, I just have the one booked in but I'm hoping that will change very soon. We're playing at Birthdays in Dalston on 15th June, supporting Gazel. We're doing a bit of a stripped back set. I'm excited - it has been a while since we played a show.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I'd like to put out more music I'm proud of and try to make some new human connections through the songs. I would love to tour. I have this picture in my head of a crowd of people who are waiting to discover my music even though they don't know it yet and it's up to me to go and find them. So, I'll be looking for those people. Knowing the vast emotion we can feel from music and how it can move me so deeply, if I could do that for anyone else, I would consider that a big win.
Earning money to keep making music as much as I can is obviously part of the dream, I can't deny that. It's not the fire behind me, though. If making lots of money was my primary goal, I wouldn't be attempting the music industry.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I'm not sure I have a single one as there have been so many varied experiences in different bands and projects that were all special in their own way. A few years back I was working with Talvin Singh, who invited me to convert some Indian poetry into a melody to go over his playing and sing it live with him. That was pretty special.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
I really don't know how to answer this as I don't have these sorts of lists or ranked albums and never really think of music in that way. I have such varied moods and tastes that it's impossible and I would be here forever. So, I'll just tell you about three that have made a particular impact at the time:
1. Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man
This was my introduction to Mr. Cohen and we would listen to this as a family when I was young. His voice and particular use of words stopped me in my tracks. I also started to sing harmony by copying the backing singers.
2. Jewel - Pieces of You
I was in the States on a family holiday when this album came out and I bought it on C.D. at Tower Records not knowing who she was. When I heard Jewel Kilcher's voice, I think I almost started crying. The depth of her tone and the way she would put so much emotion in to her songs by using her voice as an instrument blew my mind. Also, as a young girl growing up, I loved all the acoustic guitar-y heartbreak songs. I love that woman. She is still such an inspiration.
3. Sade - Lovers Rock
Every song on this album gets me and it's like a comfort blanket. I return to this album when I need a musical hug and a reminder that quality reigns in the long-run.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Try to find your inner-instinct and hold on to it. Make music you like yourself and be authentic. You may not feel it, but just who you are is perfect. Get good at your craft and stay curious. Also, remember that once you have your songs ready, you need people to send them to. Make friends. Be nice. Find the good people and stick together. Help each other out. This sh*t is hard and you're not crazy (or you might be, but that's ok too).
IN THIS PHOTO: Lyves
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I feel like one myself! If it's ok, I will list a couple of friends of mine who are doing their thing and I think are great. Lyves and Robert Ray. Totally different genre-wise but both authentic, great artists. They're both a constant support to me as well so I want to big them up.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I'm happiest when I'm writing and (providing I'm not battling the song) I find it quite relaxing to lose hours in the tunnel of creating. I get into nature as much as I can. I love trees. Walking my dog keeps me sane and I do quite a lot of yoga, for my mind as well as my body.
I also like wine.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Joan Baez - Diamonds and Rust