Interview: Seahaven [May 2014]

By Lais

In March, Seahaven dropped their sophomore effort on Run For Cover records, three years on from the release of ‘Winter Forever’ – the debut album that really got them noticed. They quickly followed that up by hitting the UK for their first headline tour on these shores. Arriving in Brighton for the first date of that tour, lead singer Kyle sat down with Punktastic outside the Green Door Store to discuss some of the intriguing elements of ‘Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only’.

Welcome to the UK, It’s good to have you back. How does it feel to be on your first headline tour of the UK?

It’s scary, you definitely get nervous. I think it’ll be good because we’re not overshooting it and it is smaller rooms. We came over here for a week one time and then six months ago we came over and did a lot of the UK, but we haven’t toured here that much, only a couple times. We’re a little nervous but it’ll be fine. We put out the new record so we want to get over here and play and didn’t want to wait. Europe and the UK are the first people to see the new songs even before the States. We do a US headliner after this but it’s cool coming over here first. It’s a little different.

Where is Reverie Lagoon? Is it real or fictional?

It is a real place but it isn’t. There isn’t an actual Reverie Lagoon, but it’s all just kind of a metaphor that sits within the theme of the record. The title just conceptually makes sense with everything as far as lyrics and even sonically, but it’s not an actual place.

At the same time it doesn’t seem like a vague title and it seems specific. In the same way, the record itself feels fairly intricate and detailed. How long ago did the earliest ideas for it appear for you, and from there on, was it a long creative process for those ideas to germinate?

I would say it was kinda long, but it was just the way we always write songs. We never set aside time to just write songs, it just happens naturally whenever it happens. But it did happen over a long period of time. The first single we put out called ‘Silhouette (Latin Skin)’, the vocal melody of that and some of the lyrics, I’ve had that since ‘Winter Forever’. The guitar behind it was a little different, it wasn’t exactly the same, but there’s been an idea since back before we released ‘Winter Forever’ and then over this whole span of time it’s just kind of been formulating. With all our releases it’s happened this way. I’ve just written lyrics and written what I felt I needed to write. It just kind of happens by itself and kind of starts to tie together as far as the concept, and then once you get more than a few songs you start to realise the common thread and start to put in things intentionally. It’s very cohesive lyrically in a very intentional way, but not in a planned way. It’s a little tricky but I’m happy it goes that way.

The other half of the title ‘Music For Escapism Only’ points toward themes of escapism with lots of geographical references and wanting to escape certain emotions and relationships. To what extent do you see that being core to the record?

In a way it relates to the first half of the title, ‘Reverie Lagoon’, which is that place within all of us that we choose to escape to. In my certain situation it’s indulging in something. It’s turning away from problems and issues and whatever battles you have and taking the easy route, falling into an easy crutch or an easy escape. So yeah, it’s about escapism but it works on different levels. So as far as lyrically, it’s trying to get away from certain things that happen in life, and is not always the best way to do that but it feels right at that moment, and then the consequences come after. At the same time, the escapism thing works as far as the way the record sounds and how it feels just musically. It’s definitely a record that you can listen to and not pay attention to the lyrics and still enjoy and escape, and just listen to it and use that as a device for ‘escape’. Or when you dive into the lyrics, it’s about choosing different routes of trying to get away from dark areas of yourself and the repercussions of that.

Some people have seen your record as a sad, emotional, affecting one. When you look at it do you see it as a very morose piece or do you see the positive side to that escapism?

Yeah, that kind of ties into what I was saying. For me, it feels like it’s a nice thing as far as the music itself. Listening to it, it’s music that I want to listen to if I stepped outside of myself and I was on the outside of it. It’s music that I want to listen to and relax and be outside myself and get lost in the music in a good way. At the same time, lyrically it’s definitely not the happiest record, and the lyrical content deals with escaping in a more-so-than-not negative connotation of the word. It’s kind of like juxtaposition as far as the messages and the theme in terms of what is being said on the record and then the way the record sounds. It’s a good thing and a bad thing and it’s all at once. Generally I’d say it’s a sad record but there are a lot of moments for closure – at least for myself – in a lot of the songs. It’s peaceful and chaotic internally at the same time. When I put this all together, I understand that creating it I know the ideas behind everything that I intended to do. But as far as stepping back in retrospect and looking at it thinking, ‘If someone listens to it escaping, is it a good thing or is it a really sad record?’ It’s kind of weird thinking of that from an outside perspective, as it really is both. There’s definitely a lot of back and forth, good, bad and neutral, and a lot of dynamic in terms of feeling.

In ‘On The Floor’ you reference Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. Where did that come from and are you a fan of his? Or a fan of one of the billions of artists who have covered it?

Regardless of which version it is, whether it’s Leonard Cohen or Jeff Buckley or whatever, I’m sure you’re not the first person to catch that reference, but you’re the first person to ask me about it so I’m happy you asked that question. It is cool to have a little homage, tipping the hat to Leonard Cohen or one of the millions of artists that have covered that song, but that lyric specifically has a very literal relevance. That song was specifically playing at this exact moment. There’s a lot of metaphor on the record and then there are a lot of literal things like that song. Things kind of work out that way and you can’t really plan for those things and they just happen and end up working out.

There’s a lot of strong songs on the record, but that one song people seem to have gravitated towards, so much to the extent that days after the release of the album one fan got the lyrics to ‘On The Floor’ tattooed on their arms.

Yeah! That’s awesome. That song is very very close to me. All the songs are close to me but that song is very close to me. That’s the song that I worked on for a while, and every single little texture and instrument on it just built it and built it. The whole record is essentially like my baby but that’s definitely the song that’s very close to me. We did an in-store performance in Torrance, where we’re from, at a record store called FYE and then that gentleman had me write it on his arm, and he said, “I’m gonna go get it tattooed” and I thought, “Oh, ok cool, alright”. And then the next day he posts the picture of it tattooed on him. I was like “Wow”. It wasn’t the prettiest and I expected when he came up to ask for something to be tattooed that it would be from a past record that he had more time to attach himself with, but like you said it was so soon after the record had come out.

It was two days after the release that he tweeted that.

Exactly, and it was heavy enough for him to want it tattooed, so I don’t even have words for that. That’s crazy and amazing.

The first thing that hit a lot of people when they first heard the record is that it’s a different sound to ‘Winter Forever’ and a different vibe in general. How do you go about working that into the set? Did you have to change anything about the previous songs to create continuity or is that variation something you go for?

That’s a good question; I’ve never been asked that. Yeah, it definitely was interesting as far as figuring out a set in general, what songs we wanted to play and how to go about it. I don’t like it to be too drastic, but I like that ebb and flow of moving up and down with it. When it came to doing the set we definitely made a decision pretty early on that there is a lot more production on this record and more instrumentation, so we wanted at least one other extra person on stage. We kind of do our best to put them in the right places. I think there is some dynamic but I don’t think it’s too polarising, it’s not too extreme. It seemed to work out a little better than I thought. You try not to put your quietest song and your loudest song right back-to-back, but it worked out pretty smooth.

Were there any records you heard over the past few years that really made an impact on the new album?

The process was over a long period of time so it’s hard to pinpoint what I was getting into or out of. I can say that somewhat close to recording the record, the kind of records that stick out in my head were Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’, and Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’. Not that it necessarily sounds like that, but it influenced me in lots of different ways in the little things that stuck out to me and carried over. Those definitely had a big impact. I like this guy called Kurt Vile. He has a record called ‘God Is Saying This To You’, and that record definitely had an influence on it. Not necessarily that the songs sound the same, but the feeling that I get from that record, I wanted to translate that. It’s more feelings than the way the songs are.

Closer to now, do you listen to much new music and if so, what have you been enjoying lately?

The thing with me is I’m really bad at questions like that, thinking on the spot. Especially on tour I really don’t listen to that much music, which is strange because I don’t go on the internet that much either, so I don’t know what I do with my time. I would say The National ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ is really good. There’s a record Michael gave me, a hip-hop artist called A$AP Ferg, and that’s just loud hip-hop that’s fun to listen to and play loud in the car. Cody, who’s playing with us, he gave me an old iPod of his, and he had that new Lorde album on it. I don’t know if I can vouch for the entire record, but there’s a song called ‘Buzzcut Season’ that I really enjoy. But that’s something I’m only just starting to get into so I don’t know if I can totally back it. I’ve been trying to listen to that because I know that ‘Royals’ song is super-huge so I’ve been seeing how it is. There’s a record called ‘Cerulean’ by an artist under the name of Baths. That is not too new of a release.

Awesome. Cheers for your time Kyle, it was great talking to you.

Absolutely, you too.


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]