Seyah on their electronica/R&B project, Aaliyah, and secrets

Minneapolis' own Seyah, which consists of Nicholas Larkins Perez and Tess Weinberg, explores the world of electronica and R&B on the new album, EP No. 1. While the name is simple, the music is anything but. The album exists purely in boundaries characterized by its own earnestness. It's resplendent and demanding, just like life itself.

Gimme Noise spoke with the duo before their EP release at the 7th Street Entry.

What does the name Seyah mean?

Tess: "Sea" or how we spell it- "Seyah" is the subjunctive form of the verb "ser" in Spanish. "Ser" means "to be". But because it is in the subjunctive form, it is something that is uncertain -- a hypothetical verb form. I thought that "being" was a certain thing, but in the Spanish language we are given a shadow of doubt within this thing, which we imagined to be the only certain thing. I like that doubt. It relates to the confusion and uncertainty of experiences that both Nick and I write about in our music.

Nicholas: Tess made the name, but I've always explained it a bit differently. "Seyah" is "Hayes" backwards, as in Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th president of the U.S.A. I've always been pretty influenced by him both musically and politically.

You've been compared to The Weeknd and James Blake. Do you think this comparison is accurate?

Nicholas: The first time I heard the track "CMYK" I freaked out. I've always been into experimental electronic music and when I started producing beats again in late 2010, that was the type of stuff I was listening to. There are few artists I listened to more often than The Weeknd and James Blake last year, so I can see how that would bleed into my own production.

How did the evolution of merging electronica/experimental music with R&B and hip-hop come about?

Nicholas: I think the ease in purchasing (or downloading) production software alongside its increase in sophistication has brought about an electronic music renaissance. As far as the world of hip-hop/R&B merging with the electronic scene, I'd say the British scene has finally rubbed off on producers over here. In general, our culture doesn't want to listen to "mainstream" music anymore. Everybody can listen to hundreds of different artists a day online so now folks are pushing boundaries because they realize that the boundaries don't actually exist. Weird is cool now. Kanye samples Aphex Twin on a platinum record, enough said.

What influenced you to combine these genres? Do you feel you were successful in bringing them together?

Nicholas: I just personally have always loved electronic, hip-hop, and R&B. My dream job would be to remix Aaliyah tracks or be the DJ for the potential Aaliyah hologram I guess. For the record I really hope they don't make a hologram out of that angel. As far as success, I like the way the beats sound. I just tried to make something fresh and I feel fairly confident that I was able to do that.

Tess: Nick actually kind of introduced me to hip-hop/R&B music. I have been listening to experimental music since I really started getting into music a few years back. Before rehearsal or in the car with Nick -- he picks the tunes and they are usually hip-hop. I started getting into it, and our styles started merging from there.

Why keep the Seyah project under wraps until now?


Nicholas: I am a perfectionist with recordings and performances and will not release
anything until I'm completely happy with it. Folks knew about Seyah and hadn't heard us
but have been giving us great support since we've released our two singles.

A few of the tracks involved talking about sleeping in the titles. Are you a nocturnal person by nature, or was it simply something that interested you?

Tess: One of the first times Nick and I hung out it was late at night, and Nick asked me to sing him a lullaby. So I sang him "Didn't leave nobody but the baby" which lead to our cover of the song "Sleep". It started there -- in our mutual sleepy state.

Nicholas: Sleeping Beauty is my favorite Disney movie.

What was the story you wanted to tell with EP No. 1? Why no name?

Tess: I wanted to talk about some of the experiences I have had recently. I don't know if there is an actual narrative, but it is definitely a combination of both Nick and my experiences over the last year. It touches on sleepiness, loss, release, happiness, bliss, and maybe trying to control things that we can't.

Nicholas: As far as the name, I simply wanted to keep it simple. And Tess is spot on, it's sort of a combination of experiences and memories in the past year or so. 2011 was almost like a bizarre dream to me and that's sort of how the album functions. Dreams reveal our true colors often times and in one dream you can realize how happy, sad, distraught, or collected you may be.

Any favorite track?

Nicholas: "Control" It was the first track Tess wrote for this project and it just gets stuck in my head like crazy.

Tess: I like "Control" too! I am really attached to this song. I wrote it about something in specific and I came to Nick with this little tune in my head and it stuck with both of us. We hope you like it too.

What can we expect at the CD release show?

Tess: I am expecting dancing -- and singing. It'll be fun! Lots of fun.

Nicholas: Our debut performance so probably a bit of nervousness surrounded by some of my favorite performers around town--Phillip, Lauren (Sophia Eris), and Lizzo never fail to impress.

Seyah will release EP No. 1 at the 7th Street Entry on Thursday, June 21, 2012 with Sophia Eris, Lizzo & The Larva Ink, Phillip Morris, and DJ Connie Hawkins.
18+, $5, 8 pm

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