The track, Dreaming, is available via:
20th July, 2018
WHEN looking at Seaker…
there are a few things that come to mind. I wanted to investigate this year’s Mercury Music Prize – stick with me on that one! –; artists from the North and music made in London; songs inspired by night-time unrest and realisation; a look at human psychology and how that can impact songwriting; a look at where Seaker will head and what her future holds. I wanted to begin with the Mercury because there has been a lot of chatter and consternation regarding this year’s list. It is always hard pleasing everyone regarding a shortlist – as I wrote in a piece after the nominations – so there are going to be eyebrows raised and people unhappy. There is, in the dozen selected, too much commercial interest and emphasis on mainstream acts. Many have noted how artists like Noel Gallagher and Lily Allen, who are bigger names, have made the cut – newer, riskier artists have not been nominated and that has angered quite a few. I am quite happy with the list as it stands. There are some omissions and oversights – where are Let’s Eat Grandma and Shame, for instance?! – and it seems we need to look at how the Mercury Music Prize is run and what it stands for. My point is, bringing it back, the best of British music should be that takes some risks and goes a lot deeper than that we are familiar with and expect to do well. Artists who have been in the public eye for a while have won acclaim and made it to the big leagues. There are fantastic artists emerging, making great music that is not being recognised. Seaker is one of those talents, in future, one would hope to be nominated for such a prize. I say this because the music, musically, is stunning and the sounds take from different areas/genres. Her material, as I will investigate, looks at the human condition and is more original than most of what is out there.
You listen to it and are transported to an evocative and memorable place. This is the same music we should be highlighting and giving recognition to. I am pleased, this year, Nadine Shah has been nominated for her album Holiday Destination. It is a primal and important record that looks at everything from immigration and xenophobia to personal struggles. The reason I mention Shah’s album is that of the importance of the material and how accomplished the music sounds. You know she has put so much effort into every track and the material actually departs from the predictable and conveys important messages. The newcomers and those unsigned are working hard to get to the mainstream/wider audience and are doing so in a much more inventive and honest way. I am hearing artists who have the potential to make a big name of themselves and make changes in the music industry. What interests me about Seaker is the way she subverts the obvious and cliché areas many investigate and make you think. The music is never too distant and hard to understand. You learn something new and are given a fresh perspective on the human psyche – I will look at that in a little bit. What I wanted to say is how we should be recommending this sort of music to the public. It is great Pop artists and those in the mainstream are being recognised but I wonder how enduring and inspiring it is to those emerging. The Mercury Music Prize should be about British sounds that have appeal and are excellent but take a bit more of a gamble and provoke a reaction. Seaker is the sort of artists who is going to make a name for herself and progress – worthy of award recognition and wider acclaim. I will move on from this point but it is interesting looking at award ceremonies and how judges decide what is seen as eligible and necessary. People have been unhappy with our most prestigious award and wondering whether it holds weight and value.
Sticking, actually, with the Mercury theme and there was another argument: the fact there are still so many London-based artists on the list. I started looking at that argument and wondering whether we need to start looking at other areas of the U.K. and what is coming from there. Seaker started life up in Teeside and is now down in London. Nadine Shah, from the North East, is one of few names from the elected dozen who comes from the North. There is an abundance of London artists on the longlist this year and that has garnered a lot of criticism. I agree we should judge music in terms of merit – rather than geography – but there are a lot of things to unpack. It might sound like an odd subject to bring in but I have to wonder why London is attracting artists and why so much popular music is coming from there. I know there is a great scene in places like Manchester and Glasgow but it seems like the capital inspires something that leads to popular music. Look at the artists nominated for the Mercury this year and a lot of (the material) is about personal areas and love. Lily Allen’s No Shame documents transitioning in life post-divorce; Florence + the Machine’s High As Hope nods to the capital and personal reflections (including the end of a needy love and her grandmother’s suicide). Wolf Alice, too, have taken from various areas of the human condition for their album, Visions of a Life. I find artists from outside London (nominated) like Arctic Monkeys, Nadine Shah and Jorja Smith have taken a different approach to their subject matter. London artists, as opposed to those away from the area, tend to be more personal and a little hard-hitting regarding the music. That might sound like a generalisation but, when looking at the London-based artists on the Mercury list; I see more emotional bleeding, vulnerability and need for reflection.
One can attribute that to the pace of life in London and how it is hard to get a balance. Those based outside of London, it seems, write in a different way to those in the capital. Whatever the reason is; it seems that sort of exposure and lifestyle leads to fantastic music. We have a connection with records that seem to expose their wounds and are unafraid to reveal their scars. Although Seaker is based here and feels the same pinch as artists on this year’s longlist; the way she writes is slightly different. There is the same sort of intensity and emotional exposure but, rather than look at love and relationship struggle, there is a more general look at the human psyche and introspection. Maybe that is the biggest split: London artists are more inward-looking whereas those away from here are more willing to look outward at wider themes. There is nothing wrong with either stance but it is interesting looking at the divides. The reason I like Seaker’s music is because it could easily fall into the same traps as the most predictable artists – looking at their heartbreak and own relationships. What interests me about the creation of Dreaming is how it reflects hidden thoughts and something harder; its inception came about when Seaker went to the countryside. The countryside, for the most part, is pretty crap. It’s dull, populated by rather boring humans and is a place most people go to get grey and die. What it is good for is clearing away all the debris and stress of the city and getting you in a more reflective zone. Seaker was, until now, afraid of exposing some of the lines and thoughts in her latest track. Although the song has a sense of the intense and thought-provoking; it is designed to soothe and settle the mind. In many ways, Seaker has unified the North and South – in terms of material and lyrical inspiration – and created something fantastic. I will abandon the Mercury line of inquisition and look at Dreaming’s heartbeat.
Dreaming, as Seaker talks about, is looking at yourself in a new light and unearthing things that were buried. She has become unfrozen and sees herself in a new light. Kiran (Seaker) spent that time in the countryside to unearth something in the back of her mind that needed to be unlocked. I am interested seeing how artists progress and explore in a very data-rich time. We are all overloaded with information and spend most of our time bombarded by data and stuff we don’t need to see. We are obsessive and spend a lot of our lives on social media. It is a very bad time in terms of our mental-health and happiness. There are dark and intense thoughts buried low; the heroine is a bit frozen and unable to move to the next stage of life. Dreaming’s creation arrived during a plateau and a time when suppression was ruling the unconscious mind. I am not sure whether the song is a reaction to the way we are buried under data and strained – maybe Seaker was a little stuck in life and going through some hard times. Whatever caused this repression and burying of emotions; she realised there was light underneath the layers and the ability to move forward. It is interesting speculating as to what caused a degree of stagnation and upset. The countryside air and bravery to unearth something constrained has led to personal growth and revelation. This is something we do not often see in music. It fits into the London-model I was looking at earlier – artists who are more exposing and look more inside themselves. If anything, Seaker has taken what was growing inside of her – in terms of festination and struggle – and applied it to a wider field. She is interested in the human condition and a psychological state where things can get pretty heavy and seem to be getting on top of us. If we are unable, consciously or not, to work our way through and unburden the soul; that can lead to a fresh paradigm and much lighter shoulders.
The clarity Seaker found happened in the wee hours of the morning and seemed like the moment she was looking for. Taking a psychology approach, rather than purely personal, has led to more colour and depth. If Dreaming was purely concerned with her own struggle and trying to rationalise a sense of anxiety, I would not be so attached. I mentioned how many artists are still too concerned with their own problems and unwilling to provide guidance and connection with those listening. It is okay hearing artists expose their troubles and show that honesty – what one wants is guidance and a feeling the songwriter is thinking of them. Seaker will release more material, one suspects, that goes as deep - but she is eager to look at the human mind and how we are unable to click the light on. By that, we get cowed and weighed down by the pace of life and how we go about our business. We can get caught in a spider’s web of anxiety, doubts and fatigue. It is hard breaking out of that mould and finding some form of evolution and relaxation. Discovering how to get from the undesirable state to somewhere free is a hard thing to reason. Seaker mixed night-time realisation with a country retreat. It is important, when looking at the song, we realise it is possible to get unstuck and get past that frozen state. There are messages and lessons within the song we can all take from. This circles back to my initial point when it comes to the music we want to hear celebrated. Not only does a song like Dreamer reveal a great new talent but there is daring, difference and something much more original working away. I am pleased Seaker is making leaps and producing incredible music. I hope she gets the recognition and exposure, in time, she is worthy of. Radio stations like BBC Radio 6 Music (and Guy Garvey) have noted her promise and are behind her.
I wanted to end this section by looking at young songwriters like Seaker and how far they can go. Although bands, to an extent, are making a comeback (in terms of popularity), I still think it is a solo market. The lone artist is more popular and has greater flexibility. There is a great opportunity for artists like Seaker to ascend to the mainstream and add their own dynamic to it. It is tough getting from the realms of promising to the top of the market. Perseverance and consistent good work go a long way – she is already showing all the promise and stamina needed to make it in the industry. I look at artists who quit and call time and wonder whether they need to show more determination and belief. It is tricky cracking the market right away but you need to have that belief that things are going to work out for the best. Making original and interesting music is another way to take big steps; thinking outside the box and connecting with the listener; producing something evocative yet personal is another important consideration. Seaker is one of those artists who ticks all the boxes and is producing some terrific music. I am seeing some solo artists like her gain merit and progress between releases. I am excited to see how the industry will shape in the next few years and what changes will come in. I feel there will be a replacement of mainstream acts who do not show much invention – they will be substituted by a fresher and more engaging breed who take bigger risks with their music. Seaker seems to have a game-plan and it will be great to see how she executes it. Recording (Dreaming) between her North London home-studio and Pink Bird Studios (Wanstead); it is a busy and exciting time for her. I wonder she will head and what her next single will document, Right now, Dreaming is out there and creating quite a bit of excitement.
You get a sense of wooziness and the night from the first few notes of Dreaming. There are synths and piano (electronic) suggestions that mix serenity with tumultuous thought. It is almost like the heroine is asleep and grappling with the confusions of the day. You get a real scent of the night and something quite dark. It is dreamy and floating but one gets a real sense of intent and focus. When she comes to the microphone, our heroine feels him (maybe the hero or a general sense of realisation) float over her. Given the fact the song is about unlocking secluded realisation and unfreezing; I get the impression there is this spiritual sense of realisation and rationalisation entering her sleeping mind. Militaristic drums give the song a new sense of urgency and movement as Seaker talks about this feeling being in her veins. She has been enveloped and dominated by something quite powerful and intoxicating. In some ways, oddly, I get sentiments and suggestions of the aforementioned Florence Welch. In terms of the vocal power and the beguiling spirit of the music – one is reminded of the London-based star. In any case; I was picturing the heroine asleep and having this spectral inspiration fill her blood. I love how the song mutates and develops as it goes along. Rather than stick with rather bland and samey notes; the music is fluid and keeps you engaged. Every line and moment seems to register a new reaction and you are invested in what is being said. Seaker talks about being asleep for “too long” – making me wonder what is being represented. Maybe she has been living a way of life that has not been conducive to personal growth and comfort. It is clear she has this realisation and need to change. She wants to be woken and escape a miasma that has been tormenting her for a while. She mentions the word ‘you’ in various passages but, rather than referring to a lover or figure; I get the impression she is looking at herself and sense of freedom.
The music constantly provokes movement and imagination. You cannot listen to the song and step back and causally investigate. You leap in and close your eyes; see what is being sung and come to your own conclusions. In my view; I feel there is a sense of living a life for other people – she has been sacrificing a lot and not spending enough time on herself. Maybe Seaker has been overloaded with information and living in a very data-obsessed and electronic age. Rather than step away and give herself some breathing space; I feel she has been stuck in a bit of a rut and unable to move past. Now, whether through a vivid dream or a moment of clarity, she has come to a point where things are turning. The child-like way she was living – heavy hearts and open eyes – led her to the fire and a sense of danger. I keep coming back to this ‘I’ and ‘you’ dynamic in the song. I wonder whether there is, at the back of the mind, someone (rather than something) that has been important. I still think Seaker is looking at life and herself in this sense but I also wonder whether a past relationship or figure in her life has created some tension. The chorus, the next time around, sounds emancipated and flying. The heroine seems to have few regrets regarding the way things were but relieved to have awoken herself and have clearer sight. The voice is always entrancing and potent. It carries emotional heaviness and pain but there is that determination to find safety and some comfortable space. It is a complex and rich brew that gives the song so many layers and interesting spots. Dreaming is a fulsome and fascinating song that has this charged and mystical energy that gets into the body. You are witnessing someone having a transformation and sort of rebirth. It might not be as profound as starting life afresh but you are seeing Seaker throw off the bad times and look to a more positive outlook. Dreaming is a fantastic track that builds on her past work and, if anything, is her strongest statement yet. If you have not heard Seaker’s latest offering and give n yourself to its power and wonder; make sure you submit some time and surrender to it. You will need a few different spins before all of its colours and lyrics sink in. A deep, busy and intelligent song that has personal relevance but looks at the human mind and how we can realise hidden truths and unlock our minds when sleeping. Seaker’s soul has been awoken and she has found a sense of clarity. I am not sure where she goes from here but it is clear she is in inspired form.
Kiran Hungin grew up in the North East and was exposed to great music at a young age. Her father was (maybe is) an avid collector and the family lived in the house they did for a reason. There was a gap between them and the neighbours because he wanted to play music as loud as possible – no complaints from the neighbours and that freedom. That volume and passion seeped into the mind of Hungin and she went on to create Seaker. Artists like Leonard Cohen would be played very loud and her father would chill listening to his gravelled and authoritative tones. It seems odd, almost in this day, you’d be raised in a household that cool and interesting. Seaker has the same approach to her own music. She wants people to unwind by playing her music loud – keeping the neighbours a bit at bay – and relaxing. There is the same gravitas and intelligence in her music as the likes of Leonard Cohen. Your mind imagines and looks deeper inside the self; you are engaged with the music and completely immersed. She is now in London and living a different type of life. Rather than get swallowed by the rush and the hectic pace of life; Seaker is able to imagine and write music in a way that seems quite free and calm. Dreaming is a moment of clarity and unlock that many of us can take to heart. Seaker has that attachment to Leonard Cohen and the way he writes. She has a poetic and intelligent approach to music; exploring the human condition and passionate about words. You follow Dreaming and it paints pictures and gets you involved with every movement. Seaker has admitted she is a daydreaming and often can be found with her head in the clouds. Her heartbeat rules her feet to an extent but one imagines the young songwriter relies on her mind and imagination – rather than the pains of broken love and stresses of the city.
I am excited to see what happens next and how far her music can go. She is getting a lot of press and people are turning onto her music. We have a unique songwriter who has a fascinating backstory and a lot more to say than most artists. I am not sure where she is touring next but keep your eyes on her social media channels and keep abreast of where she is headed. You do not want to miss an artist who is growing and gaining huge kudos. One of the reasons I wanted to look at Dreaming is to help with my own situation - being a bit stuck and unable to move past festination and uncertainty. The song is in my head and, I hope, unlocks something that helps me move to the next stage. I am in need of some emotional guidance and, as such, Dreaming is playing a very important role right now. Seaker will do a lot of good in the industry and inspire many. We need to promote musicians who go further and write songs that do something different. Going back to the point I made about the Mercury Prize and why it has been a divisive year. There are many unhappy about the nominations what it says about the ‘best’ of British music. There are some great mainstream acts but, maybe, we need to take more risks and acknowledge those artists who are doing something more original and engaging – not mentioning the albums I think should have been nominated this time around. Dreaming is an intriguing and incredible song that gets into the brain and continues to cause reflection long after it has finished. Make sure you take it in and explore its wonder as much as you can. Seaker has moved past a time when she felt frozen and stuck. With her mind and psyche free and ready to explore the next phase; it is going to be a fascinating and busy time…
FOR a fantastic young artist.