Interview Seams: A Tale Of Two EPs

DIY checks in with James Welch to find out about the differences between his two new EPs.

James Welch emerged on the scene as Seams a couple of years ago. He released an EP of delicate, lo-fi electronica, played a few shows and then dropped off the radar. After completing his degree and moving between the UK and Germany, he returns with a record that offers a snapshot of his music then and now. The double EP ‘Tourist/Sleeper’ repackages his 2010 release along with four new tracks that show a move towards slick, sculptured beats. Although the personality of Seams is imprinted on all the songs, there’s a clear evolution between the EPs that singles him out as an exciting prospect.

DIY checks in with Welch to find out about the differences between the EPs, the influences behind his new club-friendly sound and plans for his live show.

What you been up to for the past couple of years?
Mostly turning into an adult and stuff. When ‘Tourist’ first came out I was starting my final year at university in Birmingham, which took most of my time and attention for the subsequent nine months. After that I moved home to Hampshire, ended up getting in a bit of a post-uni funk, recording ‘Sleeper’, then deciding I needed a job to stop myself sitting in my pants all day. So about eight months ago I moved back to Berlin and started working full-time at SoundCloud. I’ve been doing music during my weekends, and working on new things to play out live.

Congratulations on the release, it’s interesting to hear the two EPs back to back. What would you say the differences are between the two?
‘Tourist’ was recorded very quickly while in Berlin, and wasn’t even intended as a release. It felt very natural and spontaneous, with lots of airy vibes. ‘Sleeper’ was recorded back at home when I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and feels much more claustrophobic and laboured to me, which isn’t a bad thing. I like how it’s almost a polar opposite to ‘Tourist’, like its evil twin.

How have you developed between the EPs, was the decision to release them together to show some sort of progression?
I started playing live a lot more after ‘Tourist’, and got much more into dancefloor stuff. I’ve still no clue about dance music, but I feel like my music is becoming more focused over time and is slowly forming an identity. After making ‘Tourist’ in Berlin, I always fancied the idea of making a British companion piece, while it wasn’t intentional, ‘Sleeper’ ended up being that, so releasing both together on vinyl seemed quite apt.

Do they represent your music at different points or are they different sides of Seams?
Different points in time mostly. Since returning to Berlin my new stuff still feels more like ‘Sleeper’ than ‘Tourist’, though different again still. I haven’t been out field recording as much as I used to, but I’m sure I’ll do some more headphones stuff again.

The newer work definitely sounds more danceable. Was it a conscious decision to make your stuff more club-friendly?
I just enjoy playing more club-friendly stuff live. It feels much more satisfying to me to carve things out and shape them with rhythm, rather than throwing out a load of airy noise over a loud PA.

Are you influenced by your geographical area or the music scenes where you live?
I was, for a time, mostly influenced by my surroundings, and trying to recreate them (hence ‘Nightcylces’ and ‘Tourist’). But more and more I’m justing trying to focus on doing something more interesting harmonically and rhythmically than I have been previously. I feel like I’ve found my palette, and I’m now trying to learn how to play with it better.

How was it playing on the same bill as Portishead in Barcelona, along with likes of Prefuse 73 and Nathan Fake?
It was fantastic. I’m such a huge fan of both of them. Nathan’s set that night blew my mind, it was so loose and fluid for a guy and a laptop, but still really danceable and driven.

How are you approaching your live show?
More and more I want to make it one fluid, cohesive thing. I used to set things up a bit like a band show, playing one song, stopping and then playing another. But I’m keen to keep things a bit more continuous, a bit more danceable, but also a bit more flexible from my side. I’ve always improvised each track’s arrangement live, but I’d like to take that a lot further, so every show is totally different.

You’ve been doing some remixes recently, are there any artist you’d like to remix or work with?
I’d love to do some work with some vocalists, although less in a ‘make a song’ way. But I’d love to try to do some stuff with Amber Coffman from Dirty Projectors.

Any plans for an album in the near future?
Working on it! I just want to make sure it’s something that feels like an album and not a collection of tracks. It’s slowly taking shape though, here’s hoping!

Seams’ double EP ‘Sleeper’ / ‘Tourist’ is out now via Full Time Hobby.

Tags: Seams, Features

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