Touring with Gold Panda and Dam Mantle whilst selling out a run of Nightcycles pressed by Tough Love set Seams off to a very strong start. Having already released a free album and attracted hundreds of followers this represented the next step. Always a musician, James Welch went through school playing guitar in bands, often taking the role of producer. Starting out on four track tape he moved onto Logic then Ableton Live and most recently stepped back to tape incorporating a cassette dictaphone into his production setup.
We chatted with Mr Seams about his beautiful aural output…
Your music is quite niche and sets itself apart from the current bass music uprising – how would you pigeon hole it (if you had to)?
I guess I'd call it lo-fi electronica, I don't really see myself as part of the whole bass music thing really, as much as I'd like to be. I've tried to make that kinda music, but it never comes out right…
The music you produce is often inspired by your experiences – for example your release on Pictures Music "Tourist" tells the story of a summer you spent in Berlin while Nightcycles was centred around sounds from midnight bike rides – How important do you think it is for a track you've made to tell a story or invoke a visual experience on the listener? And do you aim for every track you make to have this affect?
I find that I need a loose concept or idea in order to make music, I can't just sit and endlessly make tracks just for the sake of making tracks, I need something tangible to aim towards. When you aren't singing or using words to communicate some kind of meaning, music can lose it's voice, so it's quite important to me to try add some context to things.
Last time we met you said you couldn't DJ. Have you thought about learning or is it not neccessary for you?
I dunno, I'm 100% an albums guy, I'm not usually aware of individual tracks, so I don't really have the kind of music taste that lends itself to being a DJ.
You're only 22 – are you aware of how many different aspects of the past 20 years of electronic music that your music reflects? I can hear elements of Detroit (Juan Atkins in particular) & indeed Chicago, early Warp records, Moodyman, Aphex when he's got his melodic mood on, BPitch, Static Caravan, Omar S, Four Te… I'll stop now! 🙂
To be honest, I've not heard of most of those people, obviously Warp (I'm a big fan, and interned there a couple of years back), and Four Tet was a big part of me discovering this kind of music. I'm sure I've been influenced by people who are influenced by the other guys you mentioned.
You grew up playing guitar – is your new found career just second fiddle to your secret desire to be a rockstar?
Haha, noooooo. I don't have the swagger to be a rockstar.
Who do you look up to musically?
I guess people like Beck, who can draw a crazy range of influences into something new. Then people like Luke Abbott, who can create human, alive sounding music with nothing but machines.
What got you into electronic/dance music?
The whole guitars & drum machines thing of people like Portishead, Tunng, Four Tet, Beck…
Your most recent EP consisting of focus energy & motive order reveals a bit of a more fast-paced and dance vibe than your previously produced more melodic tracks – is this a natural progression in your music or were you looking to achieve this with the EP?
I just wanted to try something new, and try and get people dance at shows, but it does feel like a natural progression now it's in cannon. The next step is combining that danciness, with the organic feel of the old stuff I think…
(following on…) Whether melodic or more dancey it's been noted that your tracks have a dark and perhaps harrowing undertone to them – would you agree with this? (and if so why?)
I never felt like that, I guess it's however the listener interprets it.
Favourite song of all time?
Zinja Hlungwani N'wagezani My Love
Who or what is your greatest musical inspiration?
What can we look forward to from you at EE?
Me trying to work out how to play some new stuff I've been working on this summer live.
Seams plays the excellent Reprise room at this weekend's Eastern Electrics.