Thursday, October 18, 2012

Seeed...Germany's Premier Reggae and Dancehall Act

Ever heard of...Seeed?  Well according to Markus Hautman in his album review of the self titled fourth studio album, Seeed is "Germany's premier Reggae and Dancehall act (yes that's Seeed and not Gentleman)" on www.reggaeville.com. Founded in the late nineties, with the intention to create a sound of New Orleans Marching-Style and DUB and Hip Hop, the band consists of eleven (11) persons who have come to the attention of reggae enthusiasts world, with their riddim, voiced not only by themselves but also a host of internationally acclaimed Jamaican artists.  On one album entitled "Music Monks" the group recorded a track called "Doctor's Darling" which actually is a revitalized version of Gregory Isaacs' "Night Nurse" and had Tanya Stephens riding their "Pharaoh" riddim for her tune "Lock Down."  

In an interview conducted during the month of July 2012 and featured on their website http://en.seeed.de/interview band members gave an insight on the group, Seeed:-

So then, before the pause you were eleven and you still are 11?
Frank: Yes
Dubmaster Reibold:  That's how it should be.

So it all started in 1998. From then on and for years to follow, it was all about albums and touring over and over again.  And during these formative years you all grew together as a band, and have got bigger, better and more successful.  Then came a long pause and now here you are all together in one room, with blaring instruments.
Is this like - "relax the drama - and heed the home-coming call?"
Dubmaster Reibold: More like back to the musty stable...but we love it still.
Pierre:We're never really all together in one room...Someone is always smoking at the door.
Jerome: It's like riding a bike.  Twenty years from now Basti could wake me up at 3 in the morning with a drumbeat, and I'd play the matching horns even half asleep.

And what about those little mind games, like "What if no one likes it anymore?"
Pierre: Well if all 11 of us like it, chances are most people will like it too - and there are some serious critics among us as well as the "mainstrea" -heads - fact is internally, we can put pretty much everything musical to the test!

Rumours have it, that legendary Seeed - talks ensue every now and then, in which upcoming matters are extensively discussed at great length.  What's the decision process like?
Based: Well you know...it's like having been married for a long time; by now many decisions are made more quickly because each of us already has a good idea of what the other thinks. Our advantage over marriage however, is that we are eleven, and there are always a few of us there to calm things down a bit; saves the cost of marriage counselling.
Pierre: I know that most bands love to talk things over, at least when they decide for themselves what they want to do.  There are many things apart from just the music alone that we all find interesting - video, advertising campaigns, stage design, costumes...if you want to be able to converse externally, everywhere, you have to first discuss a little internally.

So is there a kind of Seeed book of rules, to maintain the discipline?
Based: If there ever were, it has never worked...
Demba: Keeping the goal in focus, and preferaly no degenerative conflicts. 
Jerome: No smoking in the rehearsal room or on the tour bus!

At the time you decided to take a break, you were one of the most innovative and successful German bands.  Do you now feel a certain pressure to succeed?
Dubmaster Reibold: That quickly disappeared during production.
Jerome: Well if only 500 people were to buy our new album, I'd find that very low!
Pierre: There's always a little pressure.  We don't wanna just repeat ourselves, but to continue writing songs and doing live shows that we like.  I'm personally impressed by what's fresh and new rather than something already heard a hundred times over.  On the other hand, it would be good to be somehow still recognizable, and not to suddenly make a 180 degree - turn.  It's still all about bringing good songs to the dancehall.

What do you all think about this saying "The artist's greatest enemy is his past, in that he must constantly evolve - create himself anew?"
Dubmaster Reibold: Rubbish ... Previous works create identity.  Why should I remove myself from my base, that which makes me who I am today in the name of "progress?"  I can also make progress by taking all the good things with me on my journey.  Why must I depart from the ground to touch the sky, when I can take all the good stuff with me?
Pierre: I certainly think there's some truth to that.  Especially when you reminisce on all the readily available and unfortunate shit forever floating around in cyberspace; if you're more of a perfectionist that can make life hard.  The best thing about it, is that you'll have something to really laugh about on the tour bus - like, Wicked! Look how we made real jackasses of our selves here..

What would you never ever in life do again?
Pierre:  Well I wouldn't do about 50% of all the past albums again - and also many other things. But, had one not done those things yesterday, would one be less smart today?
Alfi: I would never leave the Night liner without a phone ever again....


Continued....

Were there ever moments when you as a band felt as though you were on the edge? Times when you looked at yourselves and thought: “Do we really want to go through with this again?”
Based: The band has seldom been on the edge, and in those rare moments one is rather screamed at than stared at ;-).

Jerome: Naturally there were times when things just weren’t coming together – when you think that things are just falling apart. That’s why one has to keep on moving, and developing; new goals bring us, and bind us together. And every now and then when I glance in the rear-view mirror, I think to myself: Yeah!!! All of this, we’ve achieved together. Not bad.
Ok, there’s no denying it; we’re all getting older. Do you still go out clubbing a lot? When was the last time you went out dancing?
Pierre: I almost only go to clubs these days when I’m the DJ. Now I have my own garden and garage, and that’s where it’s at, “in the club” on the grill – with Les Baxter, Duke Ellington or Etta James on the boom box, you know – the good life with a dash of Rum. I couldn’t live that at 25, not at all – getting older to me means that life gets sweeter and more relaxed than before.
Demba: My neighbors had a party recently, I danced there.
Based: The difficult thing about getting older is not about dancing or celebrating life, but about still being in a good mood while making breakfast for the kids the next morning. Dammit!
Which bonding experience had an unusually positive effect on all of you?
Demba & Alfi: World Cup 2006 opening performance and the Champagne-flight in a Learjet from München to Berlin, where we had another gig on the same day in Treptower Park – “Rock star business” ….. Mmmmuhahahaha!!
Jerome: The first time at the Hurricane Festival was quite impressive. There were more than 30,000 people in front of the stage, who were jumping synchronously and on command. It looked like a heavy swell on the high seas.
Pierre: It was a gig in an old amphitheater in the South of France… No, it was at a concert in a small club in Bologna, whose power supply started buckling-under-our-bass from the start of our show. We had to choose between bass-boxes and lights – no joke! The choice was clear yes… Then we performed the whole show, 90 minutes long with two small glimmers of flickering light - practically in the dark. Now this may come across as a little cliché but generally, in terms of vibes the South always does it for me.
Ok, making music, sleeping in, and all the fragrant clichés aside. Speaking of the work as musician in the studio or live on stage, there must be a few things that you don’t like to do. What are some of those annoying things that you have to do as a Seeed musician?
Dubmaster Reibold: Carrying things around, waiting, and carrying some more.

Pierre: Voice recording, selecting, and editing can be a real drag; there it’s really down to the nitty-gritty.  And mixing, and finishing a song - terrible!

Demba: Interviews, long bus rides, editing and software installation.

Based: Checking the GEMA figures (that’s why I’ve never done it). Waiting for the computer, for colleagues, for the sound check... and at photo-shoots, to look smart and natural at the same time.
Contrarily, what about the sunny-side of the job as “successful Seeed musician”?
Dubmaster Reibold: Having things carried for you, a massage while waiting, having more things carried for you.

Based: Playing gigs, having the dismantling done by someone else, unwinding at the after-party.

Pierre: Opening new doors that I couldn’t open before. That’s a little cocky I know ……….and the-devil-shits-heavily-on-the-biggest-pile. Now that I can afford much more than I ever could before, I’m rather receiving gifts, that’s just mad actually; and sometimes very uncomfortable to say the least! But to be taken seriously can certainly be useful, also in a positive way.
Locations where you’d never like to perform live?
Demba & Pierre: Places that sound bad.

Based: O2 World Berlin. Concerts in massive venues are usually more difficult to manage acoustically than smaller clubs or at open air venues anyway. O2 World is the most boorish symbol of a faceless commercialization of a big city, which truly has a character of its own. 


And what about places where you’d definitely love perform one day?
Pierre: Well there are very many of those. Up until now we’ve only performed in Europe, except for one stint in South Africa. Speaking of other Berlin bands like Rammstein, that’s one small thing I could be a little envious of; they perform in Mexico, Australia, USA, Russia….There are also a few typically unpleasant things about touring though; being weeklong on a bus through the American countryside is something I can really do without; but I imagine a gig in San Francisco or Mexico City or Buenos Aires or on the Galapagos Islands would be very cool! On the other hand we have more beautiful women in our crowd than Rammstein does….
Alfi: A Reggae-Festival in Jamaica. That would be a Home Run for me!

Was there a specific theme, or art concept that you wanted to follow for the album? For instance including more live music, or not to using certain words?
Dubmaster Reibold: Yes... I think I can vaguely remember that Pierre once made some declarations about “SMSs”, “Facebook”, and “credit cards”.
Pierre: We never really had a great master plan, ultimately everything depends on the songs that are written – but since what we should try when possible is to sound like a band, because that’s what we are, there’s really no two ways about it. As to whether there’s a lot of live music, not to the optimum for every song, but certainly for many.

Frank: I remember well, that Pierre, Demba and I had a long discussion about how exactly the new album should be. The common thread was that we all agreed it should be well presented in fine style at the risk of coming across as “too mature”… Now it kinda feels like this new album could very well be vying for first place on my list of personal bests.
While working on the album did you notice that you have made some developmental strides? As though certain things just happened with greater ease of flow so to speak?
Based: I can now edit drums in Logic 9!
Pierre: Well, not exactly simpler, but I think there are really many good songs. The English text also got much better; we put more work into it, and had a very good co-writer – Big-up our man Billy Mann! That’s also why it was much more fun than before!
Jerome: Certain things do indeed now happen much easier than before – it comes down to experience. But good song songwriting is still a relatively difficult job.
Which song was the most difficult nut to crack, in terms of transferring the idea to the band?
Pierre & Alfie: Beautiful!

Beautiful is a good cue. It’s well recognizable, that in many of the songs, the posterior of the fairer sex is…. let’s say made regular mention of.
Pierre: Well done! Naturally one experiences great joy in writing and singing in celebration of such. More fun than singing about the banking-crisis. To write a good song about the banking-crisis would be much more work, and maybe even next to impossible. But bottoms make for a pleasantly imaginable, fast, multifaceted and many splendored theme of interest! Fi real! It all comes from the heart! Color us simple minded or pubescent if you may… What I know for a fact is that we (and at least most boyz) speak from the heart – so it can’t possibly be all that bad….

The first single-release “Beautiful” doesn’t sounds like a classic Seeed-Title, like “Augenbling”. Beautiful sounds more like sentimental Big-Band music. Did you all consciously decide to try out a new style, or did it just happen like that during work in the studio?
Pierre: Not exactly consciously…one constantly listens to different genres, and preferences shift again and again. I love well-arranged and well played music – sometimes it’s the older stuff that does it for me too. Jerome, our trombonist, was all fired up when he sent around the “Far-East Suite” from Ellington “in missionary fashion” (some of us get that sometimes). I had already written “Beautiful” in grand form, and then we thought it would be cool to grace it with some swingy-horns. We tried out many more different elements; but eventually ended up trimming it down to the bare essentials – because at the end of the day less is more and short is sweet. Every time and time again I imagine; this could be – must become, the "Bohemian Rhapsody of Dancehall", you know like a real Opera. But then again I usually end up not liking it so much if a piece gets drawn out longer than 3:30; and that’s how most of us feel, I think.  

So wherein lies the difference between this and previous albums?
Jerome: In the even more Love songs!

The perfect conclusion … Many thanks!