Seaside chat the importance of musical adaptability

For the past number of years now, Byron Bay-based fourpiece Seaside have been crafting their own unique brand of dream-pop; something that feels simultaneously energised and woozy. It was in 2018, with the release of their single Golden Girl, that we were first introduced to the band, and since then, the group have moved from strength to strength, firmly establishing themselves as one of the Aussie music scene’s more exciting emerging acts.

So, hot off the release of their most recent single Sycamore, we caught up with the band to chat about musical adaptability, the visual side of music, and what we can expect from a debut album.

“It’s good not to be too one-directional”: Seaside chat musical adaptability, the visual side of music, and what to expect from their debut album.

HAPPY: So you’re almost at the end of the Good Doogs tour now…

CHRIS: I know, it’s so sad.

DACRY: I’m actually devastated.

HAPPY: When I first saw that lineup, I thought it was pretty unusual…

CHRIS: Yeah, well we’re pretty adaptable. We added some more upbeat, punky stuff. So we adapted to it. The new stuff we’re writing is pretty different to the EP anyway, I think we want to go down a faster road. Since we’ve been touring, we’ve liked the reaction to that kind of stuff. And if you want to be a touring band, you’ve got to be playing stuff you like every night.

HAPPY: With that adaptability, is that a quality you feel like you’ve always had?

DARCY: Yeah, well it’s super important.

CHRIS: We’ve played with lots of super different types of bands, so when we played with Meg Mac and stuff we played all the slower tunes, then when Good Doogs hit us up we brought out all the faster songs. We’ve always been malleable in that kind of way. It’s good not to be too one-directional.

HAPPY: Have you always been conscious of having that ability?

DARCY: Well, I think you kind of learn it as you go. You learn to gauge crowds and see what people enjoy. So you learn different things at every show you do. With every tour, you grow as a musician.

CHRIS: The band’s still young too, we’ve only been at it for a couple of years. We put out an EP because we had five songs written, but we hadn’t really thought about who we wanted to be or what we wanted to be known as… so we were doing everything very much in the moment and on the fly, just trying to cut our teeth.

DARCY: We have a very clear direction now. I think it’s something that we all enjoy, too. You need that grace period, where you learn what you write best.

CHRIS: It’s all leading up to a debut album. The EPs are EPs, but we really want to make sure we have our shit together by the time we put out that debut album.

HAPPY: When the band did first start, was there any mission statement? Or was it always really open?

CHRIS: It was always really open.

DARCY: We had a few influences. Alpine was a big one for me. I watched them at Splendour, and that was a vibe that I really wanted to recreate. But all our backgrounds are really different. Chris used to play in a metal band. I used to play acoustic – I’d never sung in a band before.

CHRIS: We had a guitarist before Froggy who played more blues style, so all the songs kind of had a blues influence. It was more coastal, I suppose. But now that we’ve had the opportunity to change the dynamic, we can get a bit more rough and rugged.

HAPPY: Well, congrats on the new single! It sounds a million bucks. How are you feeling about it now that it’s been out for a bit?

DARCY: I’ve always loved this song, so I’m really glad that it’s out. I’m really proud of us too… from start to finish, we really wanted to execute it properly. We wanted to capture exactly how we felt when we wrote it. I’m actually stoked with it.

CHRIS: It’s kind of going down the new road of what we want to do. It’s a bit tighter and more upbeat, not as washy and wavey. It’s still dreamy, but the song’s just a bit more focused. We’ve started to learn a bit more what we want to do, and that’s just the start of the road we’re going to go down. The next year should be really good with what we’re releasing.

HAPPY: What’s the timeline of all these recordings? Was this new one done at the same time as Golden Girl?

CHRIS: Nah, so far we’ve just been doing singles on their own. We’ve been booking the studio for a day, and getting those out like that. I guess because doing an album is such a big expense, especially if you’re paying for it out of your own pocket. So it’s good to test the waters a bit with some singles. We’re putting out another single, and that’ll be the real starting point of the record. It is a big expense to do an album, but we’re gonna do it.

DARCY: Yeah, we’re gonna do it. But we want to make sure we do it right.

CHRIS: Golden Girl and stuff won’t be on the record. The album’s going to be very new.

HAPPY: So you’re viewing the music you’re putting out now as one era of the band, and the album will be the next…

CHRIS: Yep, exactly. It’s a great way to close the chapter. Now it feels like we’ve got a clear message, so it’ll be nice to wrap up that era of the band. Then when we come out with a debut, it’ll be very thought out and we’ll know who we are.

HAPPY: With the new single, there’s a bit of pretty heavy lyrical content, but it does still have that bright feel to it. Do you feel like that contrast gives a power to the lyrics?

DARCY: I hope so. After we had the bass track down, it was a really happy track, and the lyrics were just how I felt at the time. I thought it fit really well with the music. So I hope people are resonating with it. So yeah, I guess so. That’s a hard question. The way I feel about Sycamore is so hard for me to articulate… but it’s pretty much like that.

CHRIS: I’m hoping that can be one of our points of differences – that we can be polarising. Dark and bright all in one. If the lyrics are heavy but the instrumentals are dreamy and light, I think that’s a really cool thing.

DARCY: I think it’s important. If you’re sad, you listen to sad songs. But I think it’s important to have happy music with lyrics that are heavier. So you can listen to it, but it’s not making you feel sad while you’re listening to it. It’s a really important subject to me though, and I really wanted to write about it.

CHRIS: I also really don’t want to fall into the trap of sounding heaps like someone else. At the moment, Seaside are original in the sense that we have a specific sound. Hopefully all these shades, the light and dark, all come into play. It’d be really nice if we could…

DARCY: Be influenced but not the same.

CHRIS: Yeah.

HAPPY: I also feel like all the visuals that accompanied the new single perfectly captured all those contrasting energies.

DARCY: Yep, it was all really thought out.

HAPPY: Jeff Andersen Jr is incredible.

CHRIS: Yeah, Darcy found him through the Cub Sport photos.

DARCY: He is so talented, and lovely too. But yeah, it was very thought out from start to finish. I had a very solid idea of how I wanted to portray Sycamore. I think we executed it well.

CHRIS: We have a bunch of sets with Jeff. Sycamore was the first we did with him, but there’s some more stuff coming out later and we’ve tied in all the imagery.

HAPPY: Do you feel like visual enhance the listening experience?

CHRIS: Absolutely. Especially live. You could watch the best band with average lights, and they wouldn’t be that good. But you could watch an alright band with amazing lights, and it’ll hook you in. You can’t neglect any aspect of the art.

HAPPY: We spoke earlier about direction… I remember when I first heard Golden Girl… to me, it felt like the moment you really found a sense of direction.

CHRIS: Yeah, that was the first song we wrote together.

HAPPY: Oh right?

CHRIS: In the past, Tom would have riffs and we’d learn the songs for what they were. With Golden Girl, we were just jamming in a room, and it came together in like an hour, then we recorded it. I don’t think any of us thought people would be as into the track as they are, but it’s cool.

DARCY: We’re very grateful.

CHRIS: It kind of set a standard for us too. Not that we want to keep making music that sounds exactly like Golden Girl. But yeah, Golden Girl was definitely a turning point for us.

HAPPY: Is that a writing technique you’ve continued to use? Doing it all together?

DARCY: We’re still a bit all over the shop, to be honest.

HAPPY: So there’s no set way?

DARCY: No, and I think the moment you do have a set way, you automatically hinder your ability to write something really amazing. We all have little ideas, and we all put them down.

Sycamore is out now. Watch the video above.