RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AMERICAN ARTIST SEIICHI
What made you both decide to start your music careers?
In 2019, I went through a divorce at a very young age after being married for five years. Writing songs was the ultimate catharsis and was integral in being able to digest the experience and move forward. I had a handful of heartfelt songs that I wanted to release to the world as an album, so I started learning to produce. A close friend showed one of her friends, who also just went through a breakup, a demo I made, and she said it made him cry. This was one of the first times I realized what kind of impact I could have on people by putting music out. That was enough of a reason for me to start taking it seriously.
Can you walk us through your musical history?
I started taking piano lessons at 7. I played for a few years before I quit altogether. The summer before high school I started taking drum lessons because I saw the movie Drumline and really wanted to be the Nick Cannon at my high school. I tried out and quickly realized I hadn’t learned nearly enough that summer. So I quit doing that and went back to piano. Around that time I also started learning guitar chords and tabs on my sister’s old acoustic guitar. About halfway through high school I saved up enough money from my job as a swimming instructor and bought the cheapest microphone I could find and started recording covers and song demos.
After high school I did two years in a youth program before pursuing a music degree at Harper College. While I was studying, I led music worship at my old church, composed and recorded a jazz EP with my classmates, co-led an indie-folk band, and played in a few jazz combos at my college. This is where my musical knowledge really started to blossom.
Then, long story short, I switched majors to Software Engineering. Fast forward a few years to when I graduated the same year I got divorced and finally had the time to get back into music, so I poured all my time into learning music production, in order to turn my catalog of iphone demos into real releases. Ever since, I’ve been producing, writing, playing, practicing, or learning about the business side of things, just about every chance I can get.
If you had to describe your music to an alien how would you describe it?
Soft, sentimental, soulful, a bit lo-fi. If the alien is familiar with American pop culture, I’d tell them I sound like Daniel Caesar, Omar Apollo, UMI, or Dijon.
What makes you stand out as an artist?
I’m told I have an androgenous voice. *haha* that definitely helps. I also write music from the heart, from a “this is what I’m experiencing right now, faults and all” perspective, and I think that helps people relate.
What’s your view on UK music?
UK music has always had a huge impact on American music, and therefore my own taste in music. A good portion of my idols growing up were UK artists (The Beatles, Elton John, Adele, David Bowie). I’d love to make it out to the UK for a tour as soon as it makes sense.
I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it?
Excuses is the first single off of my EP Felix Culpa. I was listening to/studying a lot of neo-soul (Daniel Caesar, Raveena, UMI, Dijon) and wanted it to have a bit of that flair.
Talk me through the thought process of the single “Excuses”?
Without revealing too much, Excuses describes a situation when someone feels trapped in a relationship. They’re more or less content, but it’s not aligning with what (they think) they need, yet they don’t have the courage to leave. It’s a very vulnerable song and a hard place to be.
What was the recording process like?
This was the first time, since college, that I recorded music in a studio, and not in my bedroom. So, being at a world class studio like Robert Lang was just such an amazing opportunity. There honestly wasn’t a ton of pre-production and therefore a lot of experimenting took place in the studio. The recording and release process of this EP is such an iterative experience. I think Excuses will be the most raw feeling, from a production standpoint, but that’ll also be a part of its charm.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?
I feel like I’m giving too much away here, but the song was really self-reflective. Writing about my honest thoughts and feelings kind of smacked me in the face and it was hard to accept that I was really lacking strength and decisiveness in a situation that I created, but what can we do other than learn and grow?
Would you change anything now it is finished?
I would probably spend a little more time on post-production. I would’ve pushed it more, made it a little weirder, a little more daring. But like I said, that’ll happen with other songs on the EP, and this one has its own special place in this particular learning process.
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
I love hopping up on stage at jazz jams and singing my favorite standards. It’s usually an intimate stage so I don’t have to worry about putting on a perfect performance and can improvise with the melodies as much as I want. I feel like I’m really speaking to the listeners, and not just performing, like I’m breaking the fourth wall. I love how everything is spontaneous with jazz and you move together through the song. I guess I feel the most comfortable up there, or as Frank Sinatra might say, maybe it’s the booze.
What was the worst experience you’ve had on stage?
When I was in college I had transcribed this really difficult Joe Pass Autumn Leaves jazz guitar solo that I decided I would play at my end of the year recital. It was way above my skill level and took me months to transcribe and get under my fingers. I bought a new Ibanez hollow-body that sounded amazing in the practice room and I was so excited to blow people away with the song. But when I went on stage to play it the speakers were just not having it. The guitar was barely audible over the sound of the feedback and when the noise would come to a crescendo, I’d have to stop completely and find my place again. It was an absolute wreck. I was humiliated. But my teacher and my mom said I did a great job despite the obvious issues and now that I think about it, their love and support is what I take away from that otherwise terrible experience.
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
I love playing Sunday Afternoon. It just has such a feel-good vibe and the audience always loses it when the sax line comes in. I love grooving and making people dance, and this one hits that mark every time.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
This is a big year for my music. I’m releasing my first body of work to the world and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m also playing Capitol Hill Block Party in July and have a bunch of other very exciting things in the works. *wink*Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
I just want to share my experiences through song and hope that people feel understood. So stay tuned for Excuses and the rest of my EP ❤