Grammy-Nominated Singer-Songwriter SETH GLIER Discusses His Latest Single ‘If It Wasn’t For You’ and His Upcoming Tour!
Get to know the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Seth Glier. Inspired by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Glier’s latest song, “If It Wasn’t For You” echoes the young activist’s own concepts about the transformative power of turning one’s trauma into gratitude and awareness.
Check out the track here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45-IeA8YmSY&feature=youtu.be
“The title was inspired by an answer Malala Yousafzai gave in a press conference after accepting her noble peace prize. She was asked “what would you say to the two members of the tailaban who tried to kill you if you ever crossed paths with them again” and her answer was “i’d thank them because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have the platform I have now to talk about women’s education.” I wouldn’t be who I am without the pain that others caused me so to deny them love is to deny myself of the same. I thought Malala gave us such an exquisite example of blaming responsibly and wanted to capture that idea of giving proper credit to the people who trespassed against you into a song.”
With five albums, five Independent Music Awards, and even a U.S. State Department sponsored international tour under his belt, Glier has also played with a diverse list of artists such as Ani DiFranco, Martin Sexton, James Taylor, Ronnie Spector and Marc Cohn. The singer plans to put out more music throughout the year while continuing to connect with audiences using his eclectic, often humorous, and always insightful artistry.
Connect With Seth Glier Here- WEBSITE
Learn more about Seth Glier in the following All Access interview-
When it comes to your music, what are you most excited for this year? How has 2020 been treating you so far?
Well I’m very excited to traveling to Mexico in a few weeks. I’ll be spending three weeks throughout the region collaborating with local musicians. Making music in another country is wild. The whole approach to beat 1 can change.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician? What do you think motivates you day in and day out? How has that changed over the years?
There were several “moments” like that. First was when I was 12 years old I went to see Martin Sexton playing at this little memorial hall in my hometown of Shelburne Falls MA. He was, and is, mesmerizing with his voice. Halfway through the show the power went out and he just stood on the edge of the stage and yodeled through a song. He was unshaken and I was in turn even more shaken by that. I went home and practiced my yodeling all week long.
Another was on September 11th 2001. I think decided to be a songwriter on that day. Beginning to write a song was the only way that my body new how to react to the pain of that day. This would begin my own process of understanding whats going on inside of myself. I’ve always turned to writing to try and understand whats going on in my interior.
In my late teens I wrote this song called “Plastic Soldiers” and, after writing that with my friend and mentor Ellis Paul, I remember feeling like now I’m a songwriter. That was first one I can remember when I was a student of the process the whole time. Out of the way is another way of saying it.
Years have gone by but I’m still looking for moments like that and I find them every few weeks or so. Moments that I surprise myself with a change or a line that feels fresh. Songwriting is one of the only things I do that completely consumes me.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the kind of music that you make? If not, why is that?
I grew up in a small town of about 1000 people. It relies heavy on the leaf peepers to show up and funnel money into artisan galleries, cafes, and pottery studios once a year. New Englanders are often referred to as skeptical and a bit hardened. I am both of those things and I resist those qualities daily. I currently bought a house about 40 minutes away from the town I grew up in. I still require a small place and familiar soil for my roots to take hold and I’m loving this nesting. I think there is an insular quality that defines the kind of music I make. Growing up in my town it seemed like every family had a role. A family for maple syrup, a family if you needed a few cords of wood, A family who fit and sold snowboards, and a family that made quilts for the PTO raffle. If Shelburne Falls influenced anything about my music it’s that I try to write music that is useful to others. I want it to be of service in the most intimate of ways.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Was your family and friends supportive of this career choice? If you weren’t a musician today, could you see yourself doing anything else?
I think my mother was a little concerned at my career choice at first. She was certainly concerned after I dropped out of music school. Both my parents were encouraging but also very realistic. They had no problem with me going out late and playing clubs on school nights as long as my grades didn’t slip and they didn’t have to drive me or spend any money. This attitude was the reaction to my older brother Jamie who was born with special needs. In relation, I was a very self directed precocious kid. I would busk at the local café and save money to buy a keyboard and then eventually a PA system…then a car.
My uncle played some guitar and was the first person in my family who really saw me and knew that I was a musician. My ADD rap tap tapping of hands banging on the kitchen table was looked at by uncle bill as “lets get this guy a djembe drum.” He later bought me my first guitar and showed me chord charts and fake books. I’m very grateful he was around to guide and encourage me down this path of music.
If I wasn’t playing music I would be in the kitchen cooking at a restaurant. I love the dynamic of a well run kitchen. It’s similar to the music world in my opinion.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? What has been the best part?
The best part is being able to share my music and know that it has made an impact on someone else’s life.
The greatest challenge has been, and continues to be, making a livable wage as an independent artist. I’m very grateful to have a touring career, the support of a record label, and a team that been dedicated and working together for 10 years. As the landscape gets more corporate & streaming replacing merch sales the last few years have felt like there is an assault being waged on independent art of all mediums. I know several photographers who have had their images stolen off instagram and used for bank commercials without getting paid. Independent promoters who are shutting down cause Live Nation moves to town. It is hard out there for the many working songwriter who play the listening rooms around the country.
As new platforms like Patreon come into to help, the most consistent surprise and joy is the support of fans who made this journey with me. Many have become close friends, attended my wedding, come to holiday parties. I have friends all around the world because music took me there and music allowed me a chance to conn ect with them. I have met some of the deepest kindest souls after a show and It fills me with so much hope about our humanity and capacity for great change.
Let’s talk about your newest single, “If It Wasn’t For You.” What was the inspiration for this song? How did Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai inspire it exactly? How would you say that it compares to your previous music?
This song is a bit of musical departure for me. Though I depart often. I was really feeling the 70s retro pop thing on this. I’m a big Bee Gees fan and wanted to make sure this song could be groovy.
The title of the song was inspired by an answer Malala had given after accepting her noble peace prize. She was asked “what would you say to the two members of the tailiban if you had reunited with them again.” She paused before answering and said “I’d thank them. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have the platform I do to talk about the things I talk about.” basically that the trauma they caused is a part of her now and to deny them love is to deny herself the same. I thought that this was such a powerful example of blaming responsibly. I wanted to write a song that was a letter to your perpetrator but at the same time the letter could be read down as a love song.
What was it like making the video for “If It Wasn’t For You”? How creatively involved were you with the creation of it?
Very, I had the idea of a rolly derby team after a meditation while I was working on the audio recording. The derby match in my head seems to match the violence and grooviness of the song. Omg did I just say grooviness. How old am I?
I called my producer Ryan Hommel and told him to pretend we’re scoring this scene. In this case the imaginary visual was an anchor for the audio throughout the recording.
Do you have plans to release more new music soon? A full album?
Yes, I have an acoustic version of “If It wasn’t For you” coming out in March and have a number of songs being mixed as we speak. Hopfully a few more singles will come out this spring and summer with a full length out this fall.
Can you talk about your upcoming US State Department sponsored international tour as a music ambassador? How did you get involved with this? Where are some places that you are particularly excited to play at?
Yes I’ll be going to Mexico with the AMA program. In 2018 they sent me to Mongolia, China, and Ukraine. The whole experience was amazing. As a songwriter I believe songs are containers for our stories. When you play music with another person one story collides with the others. You can’t make music together without making room for their story. Because of this, It’s impossible to play music with another person without compassion. My downbeat might have to move to match the shape of the other person’s melody and in exchange we are actually practicing Collaboration.
With the AMA program I’ve found common ground in the most unusual of places. I believe America to be a bit like a song as it’s a container for our many stories. I do this program because its the fastest way I know how to be useful right now. How to be a connection even in times of isolation.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music? What if anything has stayed the same about your music-making process?
I think from time to time I know what I’m doing and that is a terrible place to get to. Nothing beats the beginners mind. I have to fool myself into knowing nothing over and over again.
How do you feel about social media? What do you think social media has done for your career so far?
Once I started replacing words like “engagement” with “addiction” I began to see Social Media as a device that is designed to make people feel more alone. We measure the success of a post not by the value it adds but by how frequently the costumer hits the dopamine. It is designed to compare yourself to others because if you’re not doing that than you’re not going to buy anything that’s for sale. That’s not to say that good things don’t happen on social media. They do.
The other day I connected on instagram messenger with a woman who’s brother is on death row after being wrongfully convicted of a murder in Indiana. The end result is that I’m going to be playing a benefit for her brother next month however this connection could have happened a number of different ways without using social media.
Then there is the whole concept of multi national corporations profiting from data that we willingly give up because well umm, puppy videos. Also, some of your friends are robots.
Has it helped my career? I’m sure it has done wonders.
What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Bruno Mars.
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
Ice Cream truck.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I hope that it makes them feel heard and understood in some way. A quote I love is that great art is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. I hope it does that.