Back in August at the Dockville Festival, we caught up with Danish electronic act SEKUOIA to talk about his upcoming album and his future as an artist. For those who’ve been following our magazine for a few years now you might know that we are dedicated followers of the young man as well. He even produced a highly recommendable exclusive guestmix for our delight.
He released his first EP in 2011, has put out another two since, and is now working on his first full length. His tracks, with their compelling deep beats, low vocals, and beeps and blips aside bass and drum lines worked perfectly for his set at Dockville. Sunday afternoon at a festival could have brought a more mellowed crowd, but in the case of SEKUOIA, no one was seen standing still. Still, we’re all waiting for his debut full-length. Time for an update.
Do you have any time to explore the festival or hear any acts while you’re here?
I’m planning to watch FOUR TET at least. I guess we’re done at 8, then I’ll just be off watching some music. But yeah, I haven’t really checked out the premises so far. It’s cool around here at least. My original plan was to come here for the whole festival but then we got a show in Munich yesterday.
And have you been doing the whole festival circuit or more your own shows?
This summer has been pretty chill. I’ve been working on music. Last summer there were definitely more festivals. But yeah, I’ve had just one and a half months to just be home and make music, which has been really nice.
So, are you almost done with your album?
It’s becoming finished soon. My original plan was to be done with it by now, but I’m giving it a month or two months more.
I was wondering, why did you release four EPs before releasing a full length?
I guess the EP format is a way easier way for me to make music. I released two EPs and one of them got remastered. Then I released a third one this March, and I think for that one I originally intended some of the tracks to be for the album but then I made new tracks that didn’t really fit in. It’s hard to make ten coherent tracks. The album format is a bit frightening for me. I don’t know if it’s just laziness or if with EPs it’s just easier. Also, I still feel like I really have to find my sound. And I think with EPs, it’s a good way to try out new stuff.
‘I still feel like I really have to find my sound’
What sound are you going for on the new album?
It’s definitely going to be pretty electronic and not as organic as some of the older stuff. There are going to be more features and be a bit more poppy and upbeat, I guess. So it’s going to be different, definitely.
How do you think you’ve started to develop a sound that is distinct to you? Has it been difficult trying to find a sound that’s different from all the electronic acts out there?
Yeah, it’s definitely really hard. I’ve just been listening to lots of producers I enjoy and then starting to do it myself. I’ve always been like yeah, okay, it’s fun to do but I can never make as good as music as blah blah blah. I just keep telling myself to just do it if I think it sounds nice and eventually I’ll start having my own techniques and finding my sound more and more. I still think that there are a lot of acts that sound more original than I do, who have a much more unique and definable sound, but I think it’s just a thing that comes with the years. The more you produce, the more you find out what you like.
Which producers do you listen to in particular? Or who you consider to have a super defined sound?
RATATAT, definitely. I just went to see them on Monday, with their new album, in Copenhagen. It was really nostalgic for me. They really inspired me to listen to electronic music. And I guess also CARIBOU who played here yesterday; FOUR TET whose playing later this evening; FLYING LOTUS. Those guys definitely have something unique, and they’re not really concerned with having to be aware of their own sound. I think they really do what they enjoy and what comes naturally.
Do you think you try and change your sound to what people will receive better?
I try and not think about it… I don’t want to have to think about my tracks having to be something that pleases other people more than they please me in a way.
And you do live instrumentals in your show right?
Yeah, I play some synthesizer and drum pads and sing a bit. It’s fun for me. I’ve also thought of playing bass or something. It’s quite open for me to do different stuff from track to track. I can play some stuff on drum pad, and then play some stuff on keys. I’m not too bound to one instrument, which is nice.
Do you improvise a lot in your live shows?
A bit, mostly with effects. There are some tracks that I decide when I stop and when the break comes, but most of the tracks have a certain structure, but I guess we improvise on top.
What’s one question you always get asked that you hate getting asked?
It’s probably the ‘Oh, you were born in Dusseldorf and lived in Detroit’ question. People always ask if that’s influenced my music and in what way. I was born in Germany and moved to Detroit when I was four, and I lived in Detroit til I was eight, so I was a really small kid. I listened to really shit music at that point. But it’s in my biography and people always think, ‘he must have been going to raves in Detroit and listening to techno.’ I mean I wish I had been doing that…
‘Passion is something that you don’t think about’
I like that you say you had shit taste in music when you were 8… And what’s one question you wish people would ask you?
Maybe some more technical questions. Maybe if people asked something like ‘so you use a lot of sidechain in your music’ or if it’s more of a question about a track or some details in my music that they’ve stumbled upon. I like when there’s a really specific or geeky question.
I wish I had something more specific, but what is the strangest sample you’ve used in a track?
I use this fly sample in one of my tracks, which people really don’t like, which is kind of funny. It’s the beginning of a track called Disappear. I rented a CD at one point from the library, with lots of animal sounds, and there’s just this fly sound that starts it off. People on YouTube, are like ‘Yeah, I like the track, but what’s up with the fly sound at the beginning. It totally ruins the track for me.’ It’s weird because I just thought it was perfect for the track. It’s funny how people respond.
Were you just listening to the animal CD for fun or how did you stumble upon that?
Yeah, that’s what I do for fun…That was from a time when I would go to the library to check out new music and get the CDs home and put them over on my computer. So yeah, I got one with animal sounds and some with random soundtracks from movies. And one where there was this really over the line- what’s it called when you have sex, like a moan? Yeah like a totally over the line moan.
So like a porno…
Yeah, yeah, yeah. She was totally faking it. But I haven’t used that for a track yet.
As we are NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION… what does Hope and Passion mean to you?
What I do is definitely passion for me. I use all my time on it basically. I guess passion is something that you don’t think about; it just is. When I went to school, it was a drag having to do some stuff. But I guess when it’s passion, you just do it, no matter the circumstances or no matter if it’s badly paid or if maybe it affects something else. I think it’s just there without you having to think about it. And hope to me…I don’t know, it’s hard. I just don’t want to fall into a cliché.
I guess hope for me is having a dream and longing for something in a way.
For your blog, it’s a good name, because you do it out of will. You’re just interested in it. You don’t do it for the money. It’s something you do out of interest. Yeah, hope and passion: I think it fits my project pretty good. I don’t know if I have a hope or a dream of it becoming major, but I just get a pleasure out of it.