Weronika and Sarah got on Zoom with Seth Little from Seattle indie band Hello, I’m Sorry to discuss 80s movies, concept albums, and graphic novels.
You rock an awesome mullet. What’s your favorite 80s movie?
Seth: Probably Say Anything. I’m a big fan of Say Anything. I’m not a big film buff, but anything with John Cusack, pretty much. I’m also pretty into early slasher horror stuff, like Nightmare on Elm Street. John Cusack’s super dreamy, so that’s obviously a big plus. I think there’s a lot of good one liners, like the speech about not wanting to work in plastic. Killer soundtrack, too. It’s also based in Seattle, so I feel pretty special whenever I see that.
What are your non-musical influences?
Seth: I’m a big fan of graphic novels. I really wish I liked cartoons. There’s this one my laptop is resting on right now, It’s called I’m Young by M. Dean. It’s really cool, it’s all these little vignettes going decade through decade. It’s little stories based off of specific songs from that decade. So, I like graphic novels a lot. That and Theo Ellsworth, stuff like that. Every time I’m reading one, I feel a little more content in daily life. I read through them so fast because it’s easy to breeze right through them. I’m not a fast reader, but I love the visual element.
This past year had us do a lot of growing and reflecting, what advice would you tell yourself from one year ago?
Seth: Let me check my phone and see what I was doing back then. Oh my god, no way! I was just talking about Theo Ellsworth and I was reading a graphic novel of his on January 24th, 2020. I’d probably tell myself to try and be a little more content. This year I tried to tell myself to be a little more content. If there was nothing wrong in my daily life, my brain would just pick something to fix on. I’d tell myself to take it one step at a time, as corny as that sounds. Just try to be yourself, do your best, do good to others. Stuff like that. This past year wouldn’t have gone any other way, really. I’m still at a point where I don’t have much sage advice to give myself.
Your music has a really chill vibe. What’s your favorite way to kick back and relax?
Seth: I’m a big fan of Sleepytime tea. It’s a really good tea. Drinking that, reading graphic novels. I’m really into Bill Evans, this jazz pianist. He has this record called Undercurrents. So Sleepytime tea, and that record. Trying to play my instruments in a way that doesn’t feel like I have to make something. Try to play them in a more mindful, relaxing way, kind of.
The title of your 2016 album is Empathetic / Romantic and the title of your 2018 album is Meloncandy, which is a play on “melancholy.” Would you use these words to describe yourself? Why or why not?
Seth: I think I would. I didn’t even realize they were titled based off feelings and stuff like that. I would use those to describe myself, especially during the time I made those records. When I made Empathetic / Romantic, I think I was going through this weird thing where I had these bouts of thinking what I was feeling for random people was really intense. There was a lot going on. There was that side of it, but I was also romanticizing everything and trying to feel these huge emotions. That’s what was going on there.
Once that faded and I made Meloncandy, I think I kind of got a little bit more calm, but also melancholy in everything. I think that pertains to how I was feeling at the time. I chose the term melancholy because I always referred to it as melancholy but a little sweeter. So while I was feeling a little melancholy all the time, I had some really good friends and we were going on really good tours and doing a lot of fun stuff. It really reflects how I was feeling at the time.
What usually inspires you to write songs?
Seth: It can be a lot of stuff. Usually I’ll be listening to a song, and there will be one little thing in it. And I’ll be like, “God, that was so cool. That was so clever.” It reminds me a lot of Daniel Johnston, Connie Converse, kind of singer-songwriter stuff. There was this track called “Your Car” by Jimmy Whispers. When that came out, I was just blown away. It gave me the motivation to want to write something.
I also home record everything, and while I’m recording it that’s part of writing it. I don’t write a song and go to record it, I have like half a song and then add stuff on to it. I think with Buddy, this record, it was a much more mindful and thoughtful process. Because of the whole concept I went through track by track. I was like, this line fits with this song, and I was trying to tell a story.
Describe your ideal creative space, maybe it’s the space you have now, or a space you are longing to have.
Seth: Man, I would love a TascAm 388. I think it’s a quarter inch tape machine, they’re these big consoles. They’ve skyrocketed in price, since a lot of artists have started using them. I could not afford one of those at all right now. It would be nice to have a studio space that’s separate from my bedroom.
It would be nice to not be moving mic stands around my bed. I think a separate space, and then eventually slowly drifting towards recording all analog would be nice. I do it almost all digitally, and I run it all through tape a lot and kind of saturate it a bit. But I think carving out a little space that doesn’t have my bed in it, and also has a pretty cool tape machine, would be like the ideal spot.
Your new record “Buddy” drops next month, can you tell us a bit more about what inspired these songs?
Seth: I’ve had the idea for it for kind of a while. I started working on it a month after I moved to Seattle. I was going to college in Bellingham, which is this town about an hour and a half north of Seattle. I graduated and then moved down here within like a week of graduating. It was this huge shift all at once. I kind of got the idea for the concept of Buddy about a month after I moved down here. I slowly recorded it over the course of like, a year.
And then in May/June of 2020 I started talking to Slang Church, which is the label this is coming out on. We just kind of slowly figured out how we were gonna release it, and the right way to do that, and getting all the pieces put together and stuff like that. It’s a concept record during the time of a major split, either people, nature, or yourself, and focuses on a time of growth and learning how to look at yourself in a better light.
Seth: I tried to make Buddy pretty vague, pretty open ended. In the sense that it’s still relatable even if you’re going through one specific type of change. It can be outward, inward, or something like that. You can hopefully touch on a myriad of emotions in that sense. And that’s kind of the note the record ends on. It’s always a continuous process, and you gotta accept the growth and learn to change and stuff like that.
How does it feel to be releasing a record during a pandemic? How has it been different from your past releases?
Seth: It’s definitely weirder. There is that thing in the back of my mind the whole time like, this is not the important thing that’s happening right now. For multiple reasons. It feels weird to be like, hey there’s a pandemic going on, but I made a song! It’s like, okay, this is not the most important thing. I think it’s learning how to carve a space for it, and release it in a way that’s not taking up too much space.
Like release it in a way that’s not taking up too much space, but I’m happy to share it. The proceeds aren’t going just to us, they’re going to other artists and causes and things like that. Learning a way to release it in a pandemic, so they can go to it and find some kind of comfort. I think it’s a pretty comforting record. They can go to it and feel some emotions kind of echoed back to them. But in the same vein, not just ramming it down people’s throats on social media and stuff like that.
This is my first time working with a label where they do a lot of PR work, and we’re doing a full vinyl release, and stuff like that. There’s like a team of people behind it. I pretty much self-released everything up until this point. I did cassette tape releases with this local Seattle label BIG BLDG, they’re really cool too. They have really great releases. It kind of feels more official, because I’m working with a label and a team of people. There’s no planning a release show or anything like that. It’s kind of chill. I think I’m in a calmer, more chill mindset. So it kind of reflects that a little bit.
What do you hope people will take away from your new record?
Seth: I hope it’s a record that can meet whatever interest level people have in it. If people wanna have a surface run through the songs, maybe get a twenty second preview and then find what they enjoy, I made a record where they can do that. Because at the end of the day I really love pop music. God, I got so into Simon and Garfunkel, so it’s kind of that folk-pop from the 60s I got super into. But if some people are into it, and want to read the little accompanying poem, and find how each line matches up with each song, and go through the story, and stuff like that, I hope it can give them that as well.
I got super into concept records too. I got really into Kevin Morby’s Oh My God and Kendrick Lamar’s Damn. Damn blew me away because I loved a certain handful of tracks for it, but the more I listened to it front to back and delved into certain connected lyrics, I just love that feeling of a record. I love that feeling of a record where the more you listen to it, the more rewarding it is, and you find all these little double meanings and stuff like that. Ultimately, I think that’s all Buddy can serve. It’s a little more intentional.