Three years ago Emotional Response and Ocean Moon brought together Seahawks and Woo to collaborate on the beautiful LP Celestial Railroads. The album concept is interesting and unique with the psychedelic Seahawks known for their hazy blend of kraut, AOR and Balearic, reimagining the soundscapes created by 80s duo Woo. The album journeys further into space, exploring new sounds, realms and possibilities and the idea of "spaciousness" in re-contextualising music.
Ahead of the release they quiz one another on the future of technology, studio set-ups and alien encounters...
Seahawks: We’ve always felt that the music of WOO has a very spiritual quality to it. Would you agree and if so where does it stem from?
Woo: Whether we realise it or not, I think everyone is seeking love…. a universal love. So this spiritual quality stems from this desire for liberation and freedom that we are all hardwired to find. Listening to music can be a fast track to higher, subtler feelings and through music we can attempt to create or point to these more rarified and abstract states. In our early years Mark and I were definitely spiritual seekers exploring all that the new age movement and philosophy had to offer. These days of seeking are now less apparent, but the creativity and the pleasure of playing music is still unfolding.
Seahawks: Have you collaborated with other artists?
Woo: Over the past few years we have done several remixes of other peoples music.
Eddie Ruscha: ‘Woo Are You’
Cut Copy: ‘Airborne’
Alexis Georgopoulos & Jefre Cantu Ledesma: ‘Marine’
Five years ago we worked with the English Touring Opera. They commissioned us to write and record the music for a children’s show called ‘Waxwings’. We have have just agreed to do a new children’s show with them next year. Tim Yelland, who writes the libretto, wants to call the show ‘No More Telly’, inspired by a track on the early Woo album ‘It’s Cosy Inside’.
Seahawks: Where did the name WOO come from?
Woo: We have had this name from way back in our childhood. When Mark was about eleven years old and I was eight we visited our magical uncle Fred, who had a turned up moustache and told the most incredible stories. He showed us a violin bow and a wood saw and then made this ‘wooooooo’ sound that changed pitch as he drew the bow and bent the saw. This was in about 1965 when the influence of the Beatles was huge and most young guys wanted to be in a band. We were so fascinated by the sound that we decided there and then to start a band called ‘Woo’. As our music is mainly instrumental, this name (originating from a sound) remains entirely appropriate for what we do.
Seahawks: Your music is unusual in the way that it integrates acoustic and electronic instruments. What are your feelings regarding technology and where it’s heading?
Woo: A big question! Where indeed? Personally I love that the technical innovators (mainly in Germany and Japan) create more and more sophisticated and subtle software for musicians to play with. From my teen years when I bought my first Roland synthesizer to now, I have been drawn to using technology to make sounds. As the technology develops so quickly, there is always something new to explore. The possibilities are alluring and seductive. I have recently bought piano and orchestra software programs that have so much more realism and subtlety than anything I have ever heard before. Of course this also brings a higher demand for sensitivity with what you do with it, but it ultimately raises the creative possibilities and makes the music more human compared to older electronic instruments. The challenge is always the same… can you take this amazing technology and do something fresh with it!
So where’s it all going… I am optimistic that music along with technology will continue to unite and inspire.
Seahawks: Have you ever experienced any what might be termed ‘mystical encounters’ or connections with alien beings?
Woo: Many years ago I went to an event in the middle of the night at the Big Green Gathering where a guy channelled information from a crystal skull. When he finished the channelling he was asked ‘What are you?” to which he replied ‘I am a walk-in’. I later discovered that a walk-in is someone who allows an alien entity to take possession of their body. It was really disturbing!
Seahawks: There’s a track called The Next Level on the album. What is the next level for you?
Woo: I have spent the last three months working for an Italian label on an album called ‘Arcturian Corridor’. At the moment I am working on the LP cover and a music video. The next level for me will be to combine recording music with visuals. The older I get the more I feel an urge to fulfil the visual ideas I had in the past that never got realised.
Woo: Its always a great compliment that someone chooses to remix your music, can you say more about your choice of Woo music and what inspired the Celestial Railroads album?
Seahawks: When Stuart suggested the idea of a collaboration with Woo and sent us a huge array of tracks, we were blown away by the range of the music, it’s uniqueness and the deep space feelings it inspired. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to explore other worlds and journey out into the musical universe.
Woo: We have talked about your interest in 'spaciousness' in music, can you say more about this?
Seahawks: We encountered the term ‘spaciousness’ when working on the Eternal Beams album with Laraaji, he thanked us for our ‘spaciousness’ when awaiting his response to an email we’d sent. It seemed a great word that could be used to re-contextualise music that sometimes is called ‘new age’ ‘ambient’ or ‘deep listening’, tags which all come with associations and baggage that can obscure the actual music.
Spaciousness is now a series of releases on the Lo Recordings label ‘that seeks to explore the connections, the overlaps, the roots and the future of a music variously referred to as ambient, deep listening, new age and even post classical.’
Woo: How do you select found sounds to be incorporated into your music. Where did the idea of the train sounds on Celestial Railroads come from?
Seahawks: Found sounds help to transport the listener, help to create an expansive sound picture. The train sounds were from a cassette tape found at a boot fair.
Woo: Can you say who have been the major influences with your work... past, present and future?
Seahawks: Always a tough question but with relevance to this particular release the names Vaughn Williams, Neu, Lee Perry and John Cage come to mind.
Woo: When I listen to your more ambient music, I have the feeling your intention is to take the listener within themselves... as an exploration of their psyche maybe? Can you say more?
Seahawks: Yes we’ve always wanted to take the listener on a journey; a kind of vision quest... We believe it’s possible to travel through time and space without leaving home given the right sensory impetus.
Woo: Once a project is finished and released, shortly following the completion of the project I often find the question 'what's next' arises. Wondering what direction your moving into now this project is released...
Seahawks: We’re heading back into the world of acid house and spiritual dance music. It feels like a 30 year cycle is coming round… Music from the early 90s has a vibration that feels relevant to us today.
Woo: When I heard the remix of our tracks, I was mystified with how you created it. Can you explain something about your studio set-up?
Seahawks: We like to get together and jam music into existence, setting up paths of delay and phasing we create a sonic web where elements are combined in a spontaneous way to create something organic and mysterious to us…we also like to work on music and then leave it for a long period of time so that when we go back to it we can’t recall who did what, when or why…a deliberate disorientation of the senses.
Woo: As you know my brother and I don't perform live, I'm impressed you do gigs, wondering how you approach this with so all the technology you use?
Seahawks: It varies…sometimes we’ve used only modular electronics and cassette tapes, other times we perform as a band with guitar, saxophone, keyboards and lots of phasing…we try and get lost in the sound in order to create an immersive experience for the listener.
Woo: As a primarily a studio band how do you keep in touch with your fans?
Seahawks: It’s mainly on a vibrational level plus the occasional review like this one: ‘At 6am in the dense after-party fog, listening to the Seahawks sound with your friends is like a mystifying experience, a cosmic lifejacket—something to hold onto whilst chatting, daydreaming, hallucinating…A couple of very special and transcendent nights later, and Seahawks had moored in our subconscious for good’ (Vice).
Buy Celestial Railroads.