Teshno interview Sei A
Teshno: Interview - Sei A
glaswegian sei-a (pronounced “say a”, obviously) is an interesting one. he’s not someone who has ever been fully chewed up by the hype machine despite already having two solid lps to his name on french outlet missive music and tiga’s thriving turbo. the man’s early sounds paired dubstep eeriness with house motion and plenty of vocal samplings. there was a keen sense of sound design hidden within – warm vinyl hisses and aged cracks and pops etcetera – which suggested to me he was a slicker talent than your average, but was yet to fully realise his potential.
the man known to the government as andy graham, though, has recently moved to london. with that his sound seems to have matured and settled somewhat. the most recent fruits have been the frozen flower ep which was an icy, underwater and delicately melancholic house/bass fusion that drips, knocks, drifts and flows like a teary, late night and urban lullaby. word is there is more on the horizon so i thought i’d pin down the man behind it for a few questions…
how’s your year been? what have been the highlights?
the year has been good. it’s great to stay where i am, london. music-wise releases have been pretty non-existent, which is a bit of a scary thought when i start to think about it. remixes i have had a steady stream of but as far as singles go – this november is my 1st release this year, frozen flower ep.
i’m always working though, the amount of tracks i have now is just ridiculous but if i’m to give new tracks out as demos i have to make something new. i can’t go back and supply old material; i get bored far too easily. highlights come mostly when i’m gigging. i’ve had some great nights, but certainly playing on a beach in barcelona around sonar in front of 5,000 spaniards was pretty amazing.
how much have your tastes or styles evolved this year? what has influenced or inspired you? what you been listening to?
my style i hope evolves all the time. it’s sometimes a gamble i think to evolve too much within electronic music i.e. producing way out of the sound you might be tagged to, but altering and adjusting the sound keeps it fresh and interesting for me and hopefully the listeners. moving into this bracket, stuff like ny composer william basinski, andy stott, tim hecker old aphex stuff from the drukqs lp – all this and more has influenced the sound i’m working on at the moment.
your sound has definitely changed since the first days… is that down to moving from scotland to london or was there some other catalyst?
i think my sound has always been changing. its something i was warned about in the early stages when i first started producing for house labels about sticking to a sound. i did try that but i always branched off at some point. moving from glasgow to london though has definitely developed into the next level for me. it’s where i want to be really (sound-wise).
are there certain aesthetics or feelings you go for when writing or producing or do you just experiment and see what comes out?
i mostly experiment. sometimes i sit down and think about making a techno track and then realise an hour or so later it’s turned into a cacophony of synths and all there is for drums is one small wooden hit scuttling about! i always find that 2 days after a big night out i’m flowing with ideas and then write stuff without thinking about it. overthinking slows down the process and i’ve always worked fast.
is it a challenge to try and change your sound? have you found barriers or?
yes and no. a sound should change naturally. i suppose you should never replicate a sound but i think to be on top of what other artists are doing, you have to be aware as to what is going on around you. using that as an influence and taking a subtle slice into your own production.
i guess your dj sets mimic your production somewhat and therefore they must have changed to more bass than house? are you getting booked to play the right places? are you free to play as you please or do you feel you have to play what people are expecting?
i wish i playing more! every time i dj i’ve found it to be fine though. assessing what you can get away with and how far you can divert from the normal house sound on the night is always something i do. i played fabric room 2 earlier this year and that was where i found myself playing a cross of a lot of stuff. it was a techno night and i had marc romboy and bodzin playing after me and to have romboy come up to me towards the end of my set and say that the music i was playing was the freshest he has heard in long time – this is was an indication that i was doing something right.
when i play live my sound is slightly limited to what people are expecting but when i dj i tend to do as i please.
how did you come to releasing on turbo? and do you have any say in the remixes? does anyone at the label get involved with giving advice etc or do they just release music as you present it to them?
i sent some demo’s a while back and shortly after i got a phone call from thomas at turbo enthusing about the tracks and asking straight off if i wanted to do an album. around that time i had another couple of labels wanting an album but i went with turbo.
for the frozen flower ep, thomas knew what sound i was wanting and the decision was made to get midland and youandewan to remix, both of whom i’m a big fan. this all made perfect sense as to what direction i wanted so it was really easy from the start.
they guys at turbo know what they want for sure. they let me produce whatever i want, which is pretty good of them. in the office is acid producer mike mind. i’ve visited the office before and they work hard at it. i guess being in canada can be difficult at points while being so far away from the core of the european sound but saying all that – they are completely on top of things and the amount of releases they have coming up shows they have a lot of scope for new and established talent.
you’ve already done two full lengths i think – is there something you particularly enjoy about the format versus singles? do you have big plans for them when you start or is it just trial and error?
the 1st album was easy. it just happened. the 2nd album was fairly easy but there was more thought as to how the track listing was to be created. i had so many tracks to consider and because thomas and tiga liked the 1st album so much, it had to be way better than the 1st.
now, i think the single format is something i want to do more of and spread to another couple of labels so i can show the slight diversity in sound.
i read you’d like to work on film scores… why is that? it’s not that surprising given the quite filmic nature of your soundscapes already…
for me that is the next step. i’ve begun working on a couple of projects with a film director who’s based in la at the moment.
to be given a script and to come up with fresh music and place it to visuals is something that is exciting. it’s a new challenge and hopefully, with the right project, it broadens my music massively.
where does that come from, that love of soundscapes? something you listened to as a child or the films you watched or the music you grew up with or…?
i guess films are a big part of the soundscape elements i’ve done. films with layers of strings get me straightaway and that has come out in my music more and more. i have a lot of unreleased stuff that is completely perfect for film. a lot of it will be heard soon hopefully.
will there be any more stuff from droido? is/was there a clear separation between that stuff and the sei a stuff?
don’t think droido will ever be back on the scene, i reckon he’s retired, he’s too old – droido was like the ammunition for the ned scene! i hope there was a clear separation between that and the sei a stuff after me saying that!
the idea of starting the sei a alias was to push further into the deeper, soulful techno. then broadening out to whatever i feel is right or whatever happens really.
actually, what does sei a mean? where does it come from?
it’s half of a japanese word… i do a label called seinan music with label partner gordon logan… seinan in japanese is south west. basically i was from the south of glasgow and gordon was from the west. the a is my 1st name.