- Words Notion Staff
Rising bedroom pop artist, SEB, speaks with Notion about his latest track "seaside_demo", debut EP, and the importance of sunsets in his music.
Growing up in Chicago, after hopping between New York, Haiti, Oklahoma and Miami, SEB returned to the Big Apple for college. Interning at the iconic Electric Lady Studios where he brushed shoulders with artistic giants, SEB was spurred on to seriously consider his artist project and make the move to LA.
SEB is inspired by emotionally charged songwriters like Kurt Cobain and Joni Mitchell, and other boundary-breaking artists like Tyler the Creator, Kid Cudi and Grimes. Since releasing his debut single “Boys Don’t Cry” in 2020, SEB has been connecting with fans worldwide. With his debut EP ‘IT’S OKAY, WE’RE DREAMING’ slated for release this summer, lead singles “Coney Island” and “THEY DON’T LIKE ME” have already been streamed over half a million times. The EP is set to explore some of SEB’s darkest truths as he questions how the past shapes who he is today.
Now, the LA-based up-and-comer continues the lead-up to his new EP with the official release of his trending track “seaside_demo”. Inspired by the sunset, this latest lo-fi pop offering is drenched in the hazy nostalgia of summer love but accompanied by some deeper undertones. “One of the main things that helped me, when I first started to experience major anxiety, was looking forward to catching the sunsets,” SEB says. “I remember how madly in love and comforted I was with all the colours and so I knew that’s how I wanted my music to sound.”
Fans on TikTok, where SEB originally teased a short preview of the demo as a mash-up with Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar”, have already found comfort in the track’s warmth. Clocking up over a million views on combined YouTube videos, the original sound has been used in over 70k videos on TikTok.
Notion caught up with SEB to discuss what inspired the focus of his new EP, how he’s looking to explore the importance of sunsets, exploring some of the worst qualities in his music, and why he’s obsessed with pastries right now.
What was your starting point for “seaside_demo” and your creative process?
Seaside_demo started the way most of my songs start. No real objective or subject matter in mind, all I focus on at the start is feel. Feel comes from a combination of the type of chords and the textures of the instruments. So really all there was to it was putting together some drums for the groove, recording the guitar part and me mumbling a melody until I landed on what you hear on the finished song. Seaside like most of my songs was written in under about an hour and half but usually I’d go and obsess over every little thing for months. For seaside_demo, I didn’t really get a chance to do that.
Your EP revolves around the visual world of the movie Gummo. What was your reasoning behind this and how did it feed into the project?
Gummo is really important to me because in a way it represented where I was when writing those songs. The movie follows this young kid trying to navigate his town after this apocalyptic tornado event. That’s sort of where I was, at the height of covid, where I had just recently moved to LA not really knowing a lot of people. I sort of felt like this kid having to navigate this new place but also in the middle of a pandemic.
What can we expect from the rest of ‘IT’S OKAY, WE’RE DREAMING’?
I’m exploring all of my best qualities and some of my worst. Well actually, it’s mostly me putting the worst qualities of myself out there on full display. From obsessing over somebody until it turns scary to wishing I could have spent more time with my grandpa before he passed away to my problems with anxiety. I really try to lay it all out there so people know they’re not alone. Or maybe it’s to reassure myself that I’m not alone…I’m not really sure which.
Are visual pop culture influences as important as the music itself in your work?
Absolutely! I think all that does is add more depth to the work. It’s like how in class when a good teacher is able to make connections to things happening in pop culture. It’s such a great way to have ideas translated and create a web to show how things are connected.
You often combine a bright sound with dark lyrics. Is this a theme that will continue in your music?
Definitely! When I’m making music, I really try to have it embody what sunsets represent to me. Sunsets skies are filled with these bold beautiful colours but that only lasts for maybe 10-15 minutes and once the sun’s down, it’s just darkness. It’s so fleeting but during a time in my life where I was experiencing my first anxiety attacks, going to the pier to catch the sunset every night was honestly what kept me going. There is something so beautiful and sad about them and I just want to bring people there too.
What do you hope listeners will take from your music?
Comfort. I want my music to feel good while also addressing what might be hard to talk about. Maybe you’re at a party and one of my songs comes on, I want people to start vibing and moving to it. But I also know there’s at least one person in there, going through something and I hope that my song is able to comfort them too.
You’ve cited Chance The Rapper, Chief Keef and Kanye West as influences. How did these artists and others impact your sound?
Chance might have been the reason why I started getting obsessed with jazzier chords and sounds. Um for Kanye, it was his level of creativity. Everything about what he did had to be cohesive and fit a larger narrative. That’s something I try to do with all my work. And for Chief Keef, it was that “i dont give a fuck” attitude. His music is so raw and DIY and nothing at the time sounded and looked like what he was doing.
Having started down the bedroom pop route, where do you hope to go with your music next?
I think right now, it’s all about getting better. Becoming a better writer, producer and overall artist. I want people to sort of follow me on that journey. I feel like I’m honestly just getting started!
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I’ve always wanted what Spiderman had. I’m terrified of spiders but being able to swing through NYC, jumping to insane heights and basically being able to heal really fast sounds pretty sweet to me!
What are you most excited for right now?
I love pastries and I just bought these soft custard cakes from a market by my place. So all I’m really thinking about is how many I’m going to eat after dinner tonight.