In the days leading up to the release of their stunning third LP The Worry, Seekae’s George Nicholas took the time to catch up with us and share the details of their album and how he sees it fitting in with their narrative so far. The Worry is an album which has left us transfixed; a new chapter which surprises and transforms, tightening the thread between old and new in what is, at times, a devastating fashion. We’ve been wanting to do this for a little while, enjoy!
I OH YOU: You’ve just wrapped up your Australian tour for ‘Test & Recognise’. How did it feel to open up the dialogue between your audience and the new material?
George Nicholas: Yeah it was a really special tour. It’s been a long time since we’ve toured Australia and I think it was also special because of the unconventional timing of it all. It was essentially like a preview run of shows off the back of two singles from the new album and then the rest of the material was unheard. In one way it was kind of good but in another way it’s kind of underwhelming because people can’t sing those songs back to you. We did grow into that idea that we could go out there every night and watch people absorb it for the first time in different ways.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S78pfy37SN8[/youtube]
I OH YOU: I was lucky enough to be at Golden Plains earlier this year and I’ve been dying to hear the material properly ever since – I imagine that you guys are in a very interesting place with the release only a few days away!
GN: Even with Golden Plains we were refining those tracks a lot, since then they’ve come from different forms. One of our ways of work shopping these tracks is playing them. We get super bored playing the same stuff every night. We’ve been playing half finished versions of those songs on the road and as a part of our process you can refine them once you’ve fleshed them out.
I OH YOU: You had a reasonable period of time between +Dome and The Worry. Where were you at in a creative sense after touring wrapped up on the last tour before you looked at tackling this album?
GN: Creatively, we were pretty exhausted after the last album. It took a long time to arrive and The Worry has only really come together in the last two months of the creative process. It was really amazing to come together after all of these months of different projects (Cliques, Alex Cameron). There have been periods of intense work and then periods where we could take it easy and mull over it all. I think that really contributed positively to what people are going to hear now.
I OH YOU: One of the most immediate differences in this album is the introduction of lyrics. Was that a natural progression or a decidedly large deviation from the usual Seekae way of doing things?
GN: I think it was a natural progression but this has been something that we’ve always wanted to do; at least we realized that as we got on with +Dome. With the last record we set up the writing process as instrumental first by way of necessity. We’re all instrumentally minded artists and it’s always been about getting those melodies down. We wrote a bunch of instrumentals that were all quite full and the idea was that we’d put the vocals over them on the last record but it turned out that they were way too full, they said enough already without putting the vocals in there. With this record we left things a little sparser and managed to let the vocals grow into them to a point that we were happy with. I think that’s why it works much better on this record.
I OH YOU: In terms of the newly introduced prominence of the vocals – was there any certain theme or even a particular song that really inspired this change? Was there a moment where you all agreed that it was time?
GN: I think a lot of the songs are story lines to us. We wanted this record to be a reflection of all three of us, not just the lyrics and ideas of one person’s story. A lot of these tales are made up but the point is that being on the road and things that we’ve done together influences them.
I OH YOU: I still find hearing ‘Test & Recognise’ on the radio during the day to be quite confronting. I mean, lyrically..
GN: ‘Test & Recognise’ is a good example of that sentiment I just mentioned, because it’s about us being out on New Years Eve somewhere in Europe having a good time before it all fell apart in this wash of darkness and weird feelings. It’s reasonably heavy in that sense.
I OH YOU: It’s been a really exciting run into this album; largely because even with two singles released I never felt like I had much of an idea of where it would land.
GN: Exactly. The idea with ‘Test & Recognize’ being a single was that it was on the opposite end of the spectrum to ‘Another’ in terms of the directness of the lyrics, the structure and the melody. They’re polar opposites. We wanted to challenge people and present the breadth of the album.
I OH YOU: I still find myself watching the film clip for ‘Another’ a lot more than I probably should. How important has it been to tell a story on an aesthetic level for you guys along with each chapter of the project?
GN: It’s definitely important. We love to be involved and to make sure that whatever visual accompanying the audio is exactly right. That’s the reason why we don’t use visuals in the live show – we don’t want to convey the wrong message by pairing visuals that have no relevance just to be edgy. Even video clips can be hard for us; we end up scrapping a lot of things because there’s no point having opposing ideas. I love that clip for ‘Another’. It wasn’t my interpretation of the song. A guy called Ian Pons Jewell, who lives in Bolivia, wrote it and he had this really whacky idea for where the song came from. It’s a fairly captivating interpretation on what I see as a lyrically direct piece.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOkVwW64WyA[/youtube]
I OH YOU: This album really propelled me to go and revisit the earlier material and I guess as a whole it’s just really great to look back at the narrative. It’s come a really long way in every sense.
GN: I’m glad you said that. More so now than ever before it’s cool to put it into context like that. I feel like every time we make something new it’s not change for the sake of change, it’s actually just because we’ve grown more confident doing these things. Like, with the vocals, we’ve just become more confident with our instruments and from a technical perspective each album progresses with our skill set. It’s about getting to that point of feeling comfortable and then asking ‘right, how are we going to challenge ourselves and really make use of the last step’.
I OH YOU: Whether through Remixes from guys like Cassius Select or label-mate Flume, do you feel like this is an album which will see you grow further into the Australian electronic scene? In the past I must say I’ve never really pinned you down to any location or scene..
GN: I don’t really know. I try not to think about it…actually it’s not that I try, I just don’t (laughs). I think there’s a lot of amazing Australian electronic music and it’s an exciting time to be around that. I don’t really think the record ties into any Australian sound or anything like that, though. This record isn’t particularly contemporary or anything like that but it’s going to be so interesting to see how it’s taken up for us. In terms of the electronic music scene we’ve always taken cues from everywhere and not just Australia so I hope it will do well, maybe even in terms of slotting in there on the Listen Out festivals or the Parklife festivals or something like that, I don’t really know if it will perfectly fit in to exactly what’s working in that realm of things.
Seekae’s album The Worry is out now via Future Classic. Seekae will be performing on Saturday 29th November for OutsideIn Festival at Sydney’s Manning Bar.