Taken from a Hans Christian Andersen Story, The Alternative All Girl Group SeaWitches Discuss Their Music and Much More!
Posted On 25 Mar 2015
Tag: All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Arcade Fire, Artist Interview, Cocteau Twins, Dave Sitek, David Bowie, David Lynch, Duke Ellington, Eagulls, EI-P, Fela Kuti, Giant Drag, Green Party Conference, Hans Christian Andersen, J Dilla, James Murphy, Jamie, Jamie Jenkin, Jo, Jo Herring, Joy Division, Krafwerk, Laura, Laura Caldwell, LCD Soundsystem, Little Mermaid, Liverpool, Lou Reed, Love, Music Week, SeaWitches, Skylight, Sound City, Stars, talk talk, Talking Heads, The Cure, The Fall, The Velvet Underground, The Woods, Tilo, Timbaland, Tom Waits, Transformer, TV On The Radio, Wicker Man
Based in Liverpool, Jo Herring and Laura Caldwell met in 2007 through friends. It was a meeting that resulted in an explosion of creativity where songwriting, musicianship and visual art collided to create SeaWitches.
The band play regularly in Liverpool, where they’ve performed at Sound City, Music Week and the Green Party Conference as well as hosting their own nights supporting other well known bands like Eagulls and Giant Drag.
Jamie Jenkin was recruited on guitar last year and seven years in the making, the line up is complete and the band are ready to take their music to a wider audience.
Learn more about SeaWitches in the following interview:
Can you remember the moment that you decided to start this band? How did you all meet each other?
We (Jo and Laura) met about seven years through mutual friends and we started playing music together pretty much immediately. Jo had just started playing bass and guitar and Laura was a huge music fan without having really played properly before, but as soon as we met something happened and it became clear we wanted to spend a lot of time together writing songs and learning to play. We were incredibly prolific in our early days and came up with a huge number of songs very quickly, some of them we still play, some are on the back-burner and some, like “Stars”, have now been reborn and feel like new again. That’s largely down to having such an incredible new line-up! Tilo and Jamie were both recruited in the more traditional way, we needed a drummer and we needed another guitar player and we were so lucky to find two of the most amazing and diverse musicians.
Our group dynamic is great and it’s no longer the two of us just presenting songs to the rest of the band, our new work is very much a product of us all.
Where did you come up with your name, SeaWitches? According to this group, what are SeaWitches anyway?
SeaWitches came about because we wanted a name that sounded like the earth and the ocean! Seven years ago when we first started to play we had a dark-folk type of sound, like the Wicker Man soundtrack with a slightly psychedelic edge. We had the fledgling name ‘The Woods’ but as our sound evolved we wanted a different name and we seemed to be writing a lot of sea-themed songs at the time, so we eventually came up with SeaWitches. We also took some inspiration from the Hans Christian Andersen story of the Little Mermaid, which we’d both read and loved as children. Although the seawitch in that story is very much the villain, we hoped that by using that name we could reclaim the word seawitch, so rather than being evil and ugly it could mean strong and powerful in a positive way; a force for good. That’s what we’d like SeaWitches to be.
The influences that have endured are probably Joy Division, The Velvet Underground, Love and The Fall. We all have quite different tastes though, Jo loves Fela Kuti, Duke Ellington and Tom Waits, Laura’s a big fan of Talking Heads, The Cure and Cocteau Twins. Tilo also loves The Cure, Talk Talk and Krafwerk while Jamie is a huge hip hop fan and takes great inspiration from producers like EI-P, J Dilla and Timbaland, which is very exciting in terms pushing boundaries with where our music can go.
Living or dead, who would you love to collaborate with and why?
One of our all time favorite collaborations is Lou Reed and David Bowie on the Transformer album. It’s pure magic! Aside from Bowie we’d love to work with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, we particularly love his work with Arcade Fire and think he’d be a perfect match for us. Our new material has an epic angst disco sound and he’d definitely be our ideal producer. Jamie has long held dreams of working with Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio and Laura’s ultimate dream would be a collaboration with David Lynch.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
We were in the studio last August doing some recording and had a great moment with a song which took us all totally by surprise. The song is called “Skylight” and we’d been playing it for about 2 years as an instrumental opener to our live set, and the day we came to record it this incredible vocal part came together, lyrics Laura wrote about a year before just married perfectly with new lyrics Jo had written, and it was so amazing to hear this song come to life right in front of us. We three were sitting at the desk while Jo was in the vocal booth and she delivered this take that absolutely floored us.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
It used to involve the best part of a bottle of brandy, but not so much anymore! And we’re much better live for putting a stop to it! Although Jamie does still need to have a shot of whisky before and afterwards. It’s not exactly a ritual but we do like our dramatic stage make-up, and will usually be hiding away putting on as much eyeliner as possible before a gig.
That is definitely what we want to happen, as soon as possible! It’s early days for us in terms of getting attention outside of Europe, so for now we’re trying to do everything we can to make the dream a reality and to keep visualizing it actually happening.
What would you like the message of your music to be?
Some of our songs have a quite specific message and others are more abstract, but I’d say generally the message is about having your eyes and mind open to the world we live in and that we are the ones who can make things change.
Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know about you and your music?
Expect the unexpected! The attention we’re getting right now is due to “Stars”, which is so wonderful, but it’s also the first song we ever wrote. There is a lot more to come from us, our sound and song writing has developed a lot recently, there’s a real depth to it and we can’t wait for everyone to hear our new material. Keep your eyes, ears and mind open!