Ahead of their sold-out Key Club show, I sat down with Sea Girls’ Henry and Rory to discuss their past gigs, the story behind their whimsical name, and to laugh about slightly more pretentious artists.
You’ve played Leeds a few times now; any lasting impressions?
Yeah, we’ve played it three times, it’s really cool. It was pretty rowdy last time. We played Live at Leeds and had quite a rowdy crowd – maybe for the wrong reasons. I think there was a bit of a fight, which we obviously don’t know anything about …
How do you want people to feel when they leave your gigs?
Absolutely awesome. And pumped. And fucking cool. Yeah, nah, I’ve no idea. General gist, we want them to think “damn that was a good live band.” That’s something we’ve always tried to get better at, because we feel like the live performance is overlooked for so many artists. I guess that’s kind of why we’re doing it, or one of the most important reasons why we’re doing it.
I hear your names based off a misheard lyric; who writes your own lyrics and what inspires them?
Yeah, a misheard Nick Cave lyric from a track called ‘The Water’s Edge’. It’s me and Rory, mostly, and then everyone goes in. Some of them are personal stories to ourselves, and some are more like concepts that we try and – yeah, because“we are artists, thank you very much.”
Do you feel like you have any political or social responsibility in what you create, or do you just want to make people dance?
I guess I’m quite introverted in my writing, and I’m probably more about letting people have a dance and getting away from that kind of thing. If I was to be super cliché I’d say that all art is political, whether you like it to be or not. Sea Girls, overall, is about escaping. We argue about stuff all the time, ultimately every song we have has four opinionated people – it’s the result of collaboration and compromise. And so I guess that’s mildly political.
You’ve recently had a lot of streams on Spotify and similar platforms, and also booked a lot of festivals – which of the two has felt the best?
I think with songs, when they’re out, that’s just a number; I don’t really know what that means. But getting booked to play the festivals that you used to go to and idolise, and then seeing people – that’s what really means something I think. There’s definitely the symbolism of being on the same tier as bands that you saw and witnessed coming up and you’re like – does that means that’s happening to us? It’s a big moment.
What are your most recent musical influences?
I’d say that’s really tricky, cause the last person I was listening to was Mahalia and she’s nothing like us. You listen to people like Mahalia, and Reggie Snow, but then I also listen to Indoor Pets who are great contemporaries of ours. I like remembering ways I used to feel that I don’t feel any more. Sometimes I’ll drag that up in a song, to remember what it’s like to have been as naïve as I was in the past and things like that. At the moment, that might be what I’ve been trying to do.
Do you care at all about your image as a band, or do you think that’s shallow?
We’re not that curated as a band, are we? I personally feel quite self-conscious how we don’t have that; we have our own individual personalities, which I feel like we wear on our sleeves a bit. I feel like that’s part of our growing process, that we might be settling into our style in the future maybe.
Have you seen your fan base change at all?
I feel like it’s just grown, I’m not sure that it’s changed. What people told us from the start was that indie music isn’t capturing a younger generation as much as it previously had, but they are. Our shows are 14+; they’re full of all ages, and it’s always really rowdy and young. It’s nice to know that these cool youngsters are coming to our gigs now.
You called yourselves indie; a lot of bands now don’t like classifying themselves as indie …
I think it’s unavoidable for us to be honest. In the literal sense we’re an independent band, and with so much of our sound you can’t genre define us but so many of our roots are indie; we’re a British guitar band. I don’t care. We don’t get up in the morning and think we’re in an indie band, we just think we’re making music.
Do you have any advice for new musicians?
The key thing is not to be precious with what you’re making; you should just keep making. If you hang onto something that you’re proud of in that moment, I can promise you you’ll realise that’s where the art comes in.