Since the early-2011 release of +Dome, a record which stands as one of the best of the year, Sydney electronica proponents Seekae have experienced a steady and definite slow-burn of praise – resulting in an increasingly fervent local following, as well as international attention. The album's enduring qualities have afforded the trio to undergo a sort of sublimation into their next chapter. After a resoundingly brilliant showing at Sydney Opera House for Vivid LIVE, which saw the band showcase new vocal-laden works alongside string-supplemented older material, the trio aren't so much winding down from the previous album cycle, but gearing up for the next.
“I guess you go through periods with your own music, your outlook changes a little bit,” Seekae co-founder Alex Cameron sates looking back on +Dome. “I think the biggest gauge is that people are still into it, people still want to hear it live. We still have a lot of fun playing them. I still really like a lot of those tracks and get a lot of enjoyment from playing them live. Admittedly, I haven’t put that record on for a good listen in quite a while. It’s surprised us with the depth and everything that it does have, and it’s good to know your own music can keep surprising yourself.”
Seekae's invariable capability to sell-out decent size rooms across the country seems to belie their relative stealthiness on the Australian musical radar. “It’s hard to say where it’s coming from, it does feel like we’re riding a little bit of a wave,” Cameron ponders. “We don’t take that lightly, we still count our lucky stars that people want to still come out and listen to us. I can’t put my finger on it – it’s something I do think about. It’s something people ask us quite a lot – why we’re playing these big rooms when the music we make isn’t necessarily promoted that much. We don’t really have that national audience, but for some reason we can do these big rooms. I guess it’s just that people have an interest in electronic music, especially people that want to come and watch you play live. People are just interested in it. There seems to be this little niche where people want to hear strictly electronic sounds. That’s not to totally discount the fact we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing for ages – something like five or six years now. Maybe the swell will stop somewhere, but for the moment we’re constantly surprised and humbled by the amount of people that want to come out and watch us. So we just keep our fingers crossed a little bit.”
As aforementioned, one of those venues the band managed to sell out happened to be the Sydney Opera House. As if performing in the nation's most iconic structure wasn't intimidating enough, the band chose the occasion to not only perform with an eight-piece string section, but also to potentially alienate fans of their instrumental works by debuting tracks featuring conventional vocal takes. “We definitely took a big bite and we were feeling it,” Cameron recalls. “We were rehearsing a lot, and we were also writing a record simultaneously. It was a lot of work. We felt good at the end of it when we came off stage – we really felt quite good about the performance, it was a full room, it was crazy. The first initial reaction was that we couldn’t quite wrap our heads around what had happened. That feeling lasts a little bit, then all of a sudden we’re back under the pressure of ourselves wanting to write music. It felt like a big thing, and it still does feel like a big accomplishment in retrospect- probably the biggest thing we’ve ever done. But there’s this unquenchable thirst to keep going,” he reasons. “The ambition never stops for us.”
Suffice to say anticipation for the follow-up to +Dome is feverish, and the trio is on track to deliver the finished result sometime in 2013. “It’s going really well, we just spent two weeks tracking with a string and horn section,” Cameron reveals. “Now we have all these pieces and all these samples the process is to come up with new sounds to make songs with. We’ve given ourselves until the end of the year to finish the record. So we’re getting there, we’re on target, which is good.”
The addition of vocals results in a more immediately relatable, more accessible musical form. While the new material may well result in an explosion in radio interest, it's not a concious goal when crafting such material. “It’s not at the forefront of our mind. It happened with +Dome as well, there are tracks that didn’t make it onto that record because they sounded too ‘radio’. That’s not going to be our outlook, to stay away from radio music, but at the same time we don’t write music for radio. We got to where we are today without radio help, bar the local stations, which are awesome. But in terms of national, or international, there’s not a lot of radio play for us. And it’s not as if we’re tired and trying to do something new for the sake of it,” he reasons. “It just feels right. It may well cross over into radio, who knows. People who have never heard a band definitely relate to it more if there are vocals, but that’s not the reason we’re doing it.”
After conquering pretty much every relevant festival Australia has to offer, and keeping in mind a strong European following, could Seekae join the string of Euro-based musical expats? “John’s moving over to London towards the end of the year, so we’ll definitely be over there more,” Cameron reveals. “I think we’ll be finishing the record there. [Relocating] might be something we’d consider doing, simply because it would be something new. But there’s a reason that we like playing Australia – the crowds are awesome, and we’ve worked hard here for that reason. It’s been working for us. There’s no reason to leave. We live where we’re comfortable and where people want to hear the music. There’s that chance we’d want to move elsewhere, but we’re still young and we have to finish this record first. We go record by record and see how we go.”
BY LACHLAN KANONIUK
SEEKAE perform at The Corner on Wednesday August 29 and Friday August 31. Tickets from the box office.