Interviews

Boo Seeka: new mates, new sounds, new beginnings

boo seeka

Boo Seeka know how to draw a crowd. Whether they’re playing Beyond The Valley or your local venue, an absolutely packed audience, an out-of-this-world energy, and excellent tunes a guarantee.

Fresh off the release of their latest single, we caught up with Ben and Michael to chat the new sound, their move up the coast, and their future plans.

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HAPPY: Ben and Michael, thank you for joining me today.

MICHAEL: No problem man.

HAPPY: I’ve been loving Take A Look and Days Get Better. I love the videos you guys made for Days Get Better. I love that moment where Ben gets kicked out of the club.

MICHAEL: That’s normal for him, happens all the time.

BEN: Michael wrote the script and he’s like, “It’s alright, you just got to do what you usually do every weekend anyway.” Just got to get kicked out of the club.

HAPPY: You wrote this script Michael? Did you direct the video as well?

MICHAEL: No, I just had a bit of an idea when we were thinking about it and I just passed it on to our director Bailey. The band seems to get an idea and we pass it through all our hoops of management and our team and then it spits out the other end. Whether it’s music, film clips, or playing, it just seems to happen that way.

BEN: Everyone seems to know who needs to take the lead role of that situation. Like, I had absolutely nothing to do with the clip, but Michael just said, “just make sure you’re there on the day.”

HAPPY: What a great person to have in your band, huh?

BEN: Be there at this time and don’t be late. Yeah, exactly right.

HAPPY: Michael, you’re funny on camera, sometimes you look like Sam Rockwell. Have you ever gotten that before?

MICHAEL: I go between him and then I get like a couple of actors. At every show, some little boy or girl will be like, “oh, you look like this guy.” I get told everywhere, I just sit back and take it.

HAPPY: Take it as a compliment? You don’t let it get to your head right?

MICHAEL: No, not at all. When someone tells you look like anyone, it should be a compliment right?

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Photo: Press

HAPPY: Oh, 100 percent.

BEN: I don’t know, I got told I look like some cartoon chicken once. I don’t know if that was a compliment.

HAPPY: I think that you guys are a pretty good-looking band. So, with the new tracks, you still got the same Manchester, baggy things going on that we all know and love and associate with Boo Seeka, but it feels like there’s also a new sound coming in. Elements like The Weeknd, I just wanted to talk to you about what you’ve been listening to and thinking about with this record.

BEN: It’s funny that you say that to be quite honest, The Weeknd was actually something that was getting played a lot in the studio, especially while we were doing Take A Look and then progressed into Days Get Better. It’s always been that as a reference point moving forward. For us, it feels like Boo’s sound… you still know it’s Boo’s, but it’s just lifted up a bit in everything. I think that’s just the natural organic progression of Michael and I writing the new album and also the new producer we’re working with, Matt Bartlem, he’s amazing. He’s just brought in a whole new vibe to how we work. So, The Weeknd was definitely something that he had been playing. I mean, we were only going to go with Matt for one song, heard probably like fifteen minutes of what he was doing with Take A Look and just knew we had to do the whole record with him. The Weeknd was something he was like, “hey, I’m kind of getting these vibes. What do you reckon about using that as a reference point for the whole record?”

MICHAEL: It’s directly what it was. That’s a massive compliment for us and I’ll tell Matt that you picked it up because it’s really good that we’ve been able to get that “Weeknd-esque” without it sounding exactly like another band.

HAPPY: Oh, absolutely. It’s so Boo and it’s everything I love about your previous work, but it’s just nice when sonically you can play it next to all of these artists, like “hey, this stands up.” That’s got to be a good feeling and props to Matt for getting that. Tell em a little bit more about the processes of recording with him.

MICHAEL: It’s been pretty weird.

BEN: [Laughs] It’s been weird.

MICHAEL: Cause of everything COVID, we wanna do all the right things. So obviously, every plan that we’ve had has flown out the window because we can’t cross the borders and we really wanna be in the studio with him.

BEN: Matt’s in Queensland, he’s in Burleigh.

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Photo: Press

HAPPY: Oh, is he?

BEN: That’s where he is.

MICHAEL: Yep and we can’t get across. We have plans and you know, things were meant to be done and we had timelines, but that just got chucked out the window.

HAPPY: Is the whole record in the can now?

MICHAEL: No.

BEN: There are ideas. Things are actually changing.

MICHAEL: For the better. For where 2020 is, what 2021 is gonna be, and us not being able to get to Matt. There is just so much music that is being written and we don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet, but there may be two releases, maybe more than the one, in the next year.

HAPPY: That’s a good idea. If you’re stuck indoors, you may as well be writing a couple of records.

MICHAEL: Yeah exactly. I think for us as well, first it was gonna be one single and then we dropped a date for an album to bring the single out with the album. But then that all changed and now we’re dropping three singles this year. Matt has just been such a legend with having a plan, then that plan just getting flipped every month. Not knowing what on earth is going on.

HAPPY: I’m imagining your workflow and, please tell me if I’m wrong, but you must do a lot of your pre-production and composing yourself. You get the demos to a certain stage and bring it up, then that’s when you bring in a producer, is that right?

MICHAEL: Well, yes and no.

BEN: I mean it’s funny that Days Get Better, it’s literally me sitting on a balcony at Burleigh and Michael recording it as a voice memo. Michael came out without me knowing with a phone and just started recording this melody to Days Get Better behind my back. He then sent that to Matt behind my back and then Matt rearranged the whole next day and said “that idea that you’ve got, we’re recording that tomorrow.” I had no idea what he was talking about and then I figured out that he had been recording me behind my back with his phone.

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Photo: Press

MICHAEL: That’s weird because that wouldn’t happen unless we were in a house together and locked in.

HAPPY: That’s funny. Michael wasn’t around for the first record, is that right? This relationship that you guys have built together has kind of happened over the last three years?

MICHAEL: We’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve got many stories about knowing each other when we were young, but we kind of lost contact. As you do, you lose touch and then things kind of rekindle fairly quickly and then we were kind of on. It wasn’t a time of working towards things, it was a phone call and getting on a plane tomorrow.

BEN: November 2018 was his first show, Beyond The Valley. So, he got thrown in the deep end.

MICHAEL: Yeah 30,000 people.

BEN: Yeah it was 10,000 people, then 15,000 people, like “alright, this is your first show.” But in saying that and how all of that happened, not to talk about it too much but because of; one, how quickly it all happened; two, how amazing Sam was; and three, how lucky I am to be surrounded by amazing people, it was just easy to turn around. Cause Sam just went, yep, he seems fucking awesome to take the spot. Sam came in, taught everything that Michael needed to know at that point and then just passed on the baton and was like, “I’m here for you, whatever you need.”

BEN: And now, Michael has run with that, bringing in his own elements, that’s what we’re hearing in the next record. Everything that happened with Sam and having fully produced songs for the first record, that was Sam because he was a producer. We would be writing on the road, having his laptop on him all the time. With Michael, it’s totally different, he’s more beat-based or he’s the little devil on my shoulder sometimes just going, “no, that’s not as good as what you can do.” So, it’s good for me and it’s been different but I love that it’s what Sam and I had and it’s awesome to have that support moving forwards.

HAPPY: That’s really cool to hear. The way that these strands of DNA coming together and how they affect music, the openness that you guys seem to have in terms of collaboration. It sounds like you’re very open and allow each other to influence each other, obviously for the best.

BEN: I think there’s a goal of getting music written, there’s always a goal to have it written and move forward, it’s just how you get there always changes. The next album will be different to what it is now. Fingers crossed we won’t have COVID and it might be written in two weeks. You know, things change and people change. Jobs change and the goal is to write cool music that we enjoy and hopefully everyone else does too.

MICHAEL: It’s given us time to just sit and look at what we want to accomplish when the gates open back up. But even with this stuff we’re doing now, we were just sitting there, twiddling our thumbs and constantly pushing our guys, going “hey, let’s go, let’s start doing something.” When venues finally started doing sit-downs of 100, we were like “let’s do it, let’s give people a show.” One that we probably would have never done before you know, our shows are such high energy and I’m dancing like a spastic for an hour, but these shows that we’re gonna do coming up, being stripped back, is something that never really would have happened if COVID didn’t happen. We’re kind of really excited about doing them as well.

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Photo: Press

HAPPY: Are you able to talk about these upcoming shows that you’ve got? Just while we’re on the topic.

BEN: Yeah, so we’re doing eight shows in Newcastle, four in Wollongong, six in Sydney, and then there’s a couple of others. By the time that this goes out will probably be out, hopefully Byron and maybe Canberra. We didn’t want to do it as a tour. We just wanted to do it as these little performances. Now that the plans are changing for next year and *knocks on wood* we’re gonna be able to do it, there’s going to be two huge tours next year. Now that we’re sitting on it hopefully, it’s gonna be a whisky, jazz bar, dark vibe. Just strip it all back and let the people see a side that we’ve never really done. The things you do after you’ve been around for 20 years and it’s time to do something different.

HAPPY: That way you can really get inside the songs as well. Because they are rooted in electronic, these songs could be played as rock and roll, or as a cover, or as a jazz song. What I love about the project is, it’s not just an electronic project, it’s a songwriter’s project.

BEN: Well yeah, at the end of the day all we wanna do is write good songs. So exactly what you said, because we are able to strip this back to the absolute bare minimum and still play it front to back and still have people singing the exact same way that they would if they were bouncing up and down with thousands of people, that’s the essence of a good song. If you can take the bells and whistles out of it, hopefully it’s still a great track.

HAPPY: Absolutely, now you were telling me a little bit about this migration to Byron Bay. Is that still on the cards?

MICHAEL: We’re in luscious Byron Bay as we speak.

HAPPY: You are, my gosh, I’m in grey Sydney-town and feeling a bit jealous.

MICHAEL: Yeah, we’re in Byron at the moment with a couple of friends. We’ve got Kim Churchill lying on the lounge. I think also some of the greatest creatives in Australia at the moment are migrating north. We’re just finding that we’re intertwining with the right people being up here.

BEN: Even last night, one of our other good friends is Benny Reed from Skeggs and we don’t usually get to see each other, everyone’s starting to migrate to the same spot, so we’ve all been able to hang out which is awesome. It’s a thing you want when you’re in the creative vibe and able to hang with the other people you respect in the creative industry. I think we’re pretty set on coming up here.

HAPPY: That’s great to hear guys. Thanks so much for joining me today and enjoy the rest of your day in sunny Byron.

 

Grab your tickets to A Night With Boo Seeka here

Photos by Nic Mckenzie