We go to a lot of shows. And with every show, we take a moment to think about how the venue is influencing the performance on stage, as well as our perception as an audience member. We’ve evaluated most places in LA by this point, and are excited to say that the Teragram Ballroom, which recently joined downtown LA's venue roster, is at the top of our list in terms of audience experience. We attended our first show there last month to see Montreal-based ambient indie-pop band SEOUL, where we had the pleasure of chatting with the guys before watching them kill it, opening for Scottish indie rock band 'We Were Promised Jetpacks' as a part of their second U.S. nationwide tour this year.
Seoul includes members Julian Flavin, Dexter Garcia and Nigel Ward, and their debut full-length album, I Become A Shade, is a product of swoon worthy dream-pop melodies, combined with whimsical, eclectic production that allows you to get lost in the vulnerability and simplicity of their moody-AF songwriting. The melancholic spirit of the album puts listeners in a delicate, atmospheric headspace, one that inhabits evocative imagery of romance and nostalgia.
The solidarity of the band’s refined songwriting is a result of Nigel and Julian’s long-lasting musical chemistry, which started when they were both just 12 years old. Growing up in Ontario and Quebec, the two had already been writing music together for almost a decade when Nigel met Dexter, while attending school in Boston. In 2010, Dexter made the move to Canada to join the band for what was supposed to be a temporary replacement of a former band member. The trio’s temporary summer turned into five years under the coined 'Seoul' moniker, and they’ve been continuing to play together ever since.
Immersed in Montreal’s diverse culture, melting-pot population, and the dual use of French english languages, the city played a major part in shaping Seoul’s musical sound and well-curated brand. The city exhibits a sense of open-mindedness, one which the band credits as an integral approach to their creative process for I Become A Shade. Additionally (and something we definitely relate to), the ambient, electronic shoegaze albums they listened to while cranking out college papers and cramming for exams also wound up majorly influencing the record. The subtle yet thought-out layers and textures they write into their music are products of their particular songwriting process, which they’ve explained tends to differ each time they tackle a song. The trio are multi-instrumentalists, allowing for a highly collaborative and flexible creative process. With each session each writer in the band is able to take on different roles, which is evident in their complex, eclectic, overall sound. Playing instrumental musical-chairs, they hop from drums, to guitar, to bass, as they each individually contribute dreamy, mellow, melodic vocals.
The states have welcomed Seoul with open arms and they've already got two solid U.S. tours under their belt - one headlining, and one with WWPJ - this year alone. With less pressure to fill each venue on this most recent tour, they've been able to gain exposure to new audiences unfamiliar with the project, perfectly blending romance and mystery into their live show and winning over the hearts of many. We've been graced with the Seoul live show twice, both at The Echo and the Teragram Ballroom, and both times the live experience perfectly embodied and delivered the band’s ethos; gentle grooves, ethereal guitar tones, swooning synths, and dreamy vocals oozing through the room. Fascinatingly, the guys explained to us that each live song has been recreated sound for sound from the record - down to each intricate layer, harmony sung, and drum hit. For them, it was harder to rely on the technology of a laptop on stage during the live show, and consequently the end result they provide is a truly organic and authentic live experience.
The band has a pure authenticity and genuine love for the creative process, and it comes through when they interact with their audience. Their sound, demeanor and sense of humility are infectious.
Julian: “Our proudest moment as a project so far… releasing the album, honestly. That in itself was a really beautiful thing. The idea of being well with yourself, the people you’re collaborating with, and finding happiness in that has truly been our definition of success.”
After touring for the majority of the year, they plan for “not another day of touring” in 2016. But their return to Montreal means making more music that the guys are itching to write. In the meantime, discover or revisit, get lost and spend some time with the gem of an album I Become A Shade.
Any guilty pleasure music?
D: I feel like our guilty pleasures are us doing parodies of really popular shows. We’re a big parody band, on the fly parodies… but guilty pleasures, I have the melody of ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ stuck in my head like, everyday, on the hour.
J: I do joke covers of Coldplay a lot - it means that I love them, I think. If you’re ever driving and ‘Yellow’ comes on the radio, crank it all the way up. You will have a transcendent experience, I guarantee you. No matter how fucked up you are.
What do you guys like to do outside of music?
J: Filmmaking I really like, but writing also.
D: I like to cook and I like to play basketball. Outside of my musical life, and touring, and being in a band, which is a very complicated, multi-armed thing you’re always doing, if I can just sit and focus on one basic thing, it’s very satisfying. Shooting a ball into a hoop, that simplicity is great, I value it a lot. And just the simplicity of making a dinner for your loved one or for yourself.
J: I read cookbooks before I go to bed sometimes to relieve stress whenever I’m stressed out, I find it extremely relaxing. You should try it if you’re ever feeling weird.
D: Yeah, 101 Veggie Curries, that’s a good book.
What are you listening to currently?
J: I’m really into a guy that moved here to LA named James Ferraro. He is a very prolific electronic musician - very strange idiosyncratic, all over the place stuff. But very free music and we were listening to another guy earlier today, Oneohtrix Point Never. I like how it feels so free... like, there’s no rules and people are doing whatever they want. That’s been inspiring, what else?
D: Biebs. HAHA.
J: This guy loooves Biebs.
D: I would say it’s more of a guilty pleasure.
L: Is he going to have a touring flautist!?
D: I’ll audition, haha. Been listening to a guy from LA, Delroy Edwards a lot. I’d seen him play in NY really recently and I was totally blown away by the energy that a DJ could create in a really big room. I’d never been captured so physically, usually that happens in more intimate shows. Not unless someone is putting on a performance that physically captures so many people with really intelligent music, that’s pretty important to do. So he kind of makes all different kinds of techno and more stripped down hip-hop, move bass, R&B. He has a really sweet aesthetic behind his project too.
J: Yeah, he has a vinyl that is just a center label of the sticker label is the Chicago Bulls logo, just spinning around, haha.
Bloody marys or mimosas?
J: I bet we’re going to split on this one. Can you guess?
L: I’m going to say, (points to Dex) bloody marys and mimosas (to Julian).
J: Whoa, yes! I don’t really like bloody marys at all, it’s weird.
Favorite brunch spots in LA?
J: I actually have been here three times and have never had brunch. So I’m going to say Charles Bukowski’s grave, put that as my answer. I’m sure he’d be proud.
Brunch on us next time!