- Words Rosie Byers
- Photography ShyLouise
Dropping his new EP 'we were so beautiful' today, SEB reflects on the fictional stories that run through it, being on tour and finding freedom in genre hopping.
SEB was sick of writing about himself. “Baring my soul is a lot to put myself through,” he explains, realising the vulnerability of pouring his heart and most personal thoughts onto a track had become exhausting. He knew something needed to shift. So, when it came time to write his latest EP, ‘we were so beautiful’, he began to look outwards for inspiration. Allowing himself to write stories and narrate the lives of loved ones as opposed to his own, a new sense of freedom was born.
Composed primarily of love songs, the latest offering from the LA-based artist and producer sees him experimenting with not only his inspiration but his sound. Weaving together references from disparate acts from The Beatles to Grimes to Joni Mitchell, SEB uses this EP to forge a path, free of any limitations. Opening up on the project, he asks listeners to “take these songs as a collection of short stories. Heartbreak, fear, love, fun, all of that.”
Standout track, “sugarhoneyiceicetea” witnesses SEB merge different sides of himself, as he swerves from dreamy bedroom pop into a jazz bridge, on which he plays all the instruments. Continuing this theme of newness, it’s also the first time that he has tapped another artist for a feature. “moving on” features a verse from Khary, which provides a rap counterpoint to the warm, pop vibes of the hook.
Fresh off his support tour of JAWNY and with his exciting new EP out today, we thought it time to catch up on the project and what’s next.
You’ve had a crazy summer so far performing all over the world, what’s been your highlight?
Near the end of the tour, you really start feeling the exhaustion start settling in. So you really rely on the crowd to feed that energy back to you. They almost always give that back and it’s such a cool exchange.
Best performance you’ve ever witnessed?
My favorite show I’ve ever seen was Childish Gambino on his Because The Internet tour. It was such an intricate show and there was so much lore around everything that was happening both on stage and online. It made the whole experience amazing.
Performance you wish you’d witnessed?
I really wanted to see Kanye on his Yeezus tour. It had some of the craziest stage design I’ve ever seen.
Do you have a bucket list venue to play?
Growing up in Chicago, I felt like I went to concerts less often because we had three of the biggest festivals there every summer. So I would often wait out and try to catch as many artists as I could on those. I think Pitchfork festival in Chicago would be a moment for sure.
A lot has changed for you in the past couple of years, so it makes sense that this EP is a direct response to performing live for the first time and navigating huge life changes. Can you take us back to the time you started writing it and what you were going through?
At the time, I felt exhausted with writing about myself. I wanted to go into the studio and not feel like I had to come out with anything too deep. So when writing these songs, I just allowed myself to make up stories and even write about what my friends are going through. I felt this sense of freedom to explore more with production and focus on the songwriting.
Having first come up online during the pandemic, how has it been seeing the fan reaction live?
That has been the best part of being on tour. Seeing people sing songs word for word and getting to talk to them after the show has honestly left a huge impact on me. It made me take what I do a little more seriously. These aren’t just numbers anymore.
How do you find the balance of public and private being an artist – from writing and creating in private, to then doing a lot of public-facing shows and press? What comes more naturally?
I think I find the fun in both. I definitely get the most dopamine after I’ve written a song I’m super proud of. However, the buzz you get after having a really good show is pretty unreal too. I’m definitely a studio rat tho, even on tour when I have some down time, I’m probably working on music.
What else inspired the project lyrically?
Fiction and relationships inspired everything for this project. I just wanted to get out of my own bubble and explore different emotions that maybe I haven’t gone through. I just let the stories run wild.
What track are you most proud of?
I think it’s “I made mistakes” because of the way the song ends. It’s such a bombastic moment. When I was visiting family in France last year, we were staying in this castle for a wedding and I started working on a song that felt so dark and medieval. I ended up using the drums and bass from that as the ending for “I made mistakes” and it lined up perfectly.
What was hardest to write? Or hardest to have out in the world from a personal POV?
There’s definitely songs I’ve written in the past that I can’t believe I put out because of how much of what I was going through is in it. But with these, since they came from a place of fiction, I don’t have that same feeling.
What new sounds have you explored on the project?
This project is all over the place. I have a bit of house, a bit of indie, some lofi hiphop, trap, jazz. And not like a bit of their influence here and there. I fully committed to different genres mid-song.
How would you describe it sonically?
I think the best way I can describe it was focusing on genre hopping as opposed to genre blending.
Where do you imagine people listening to it?
My shows in the future for sure. I tried to keep the stage in mind when making it. Having certain moments in songs that would translate well live.
Back in 2022, you were one of our ones to watch – what are you most proud of since then? How have you grown as an artist and as a person?
Honestly, it’s the music. I work so hard everyday just trying to better myself. All I want to do is keep getting better, write better songs and become a better producer. Like I truly love making music.
Listen to 'we were so beautiful':