Name: Seoi Nage
Members: Anton Zimmermann, Jakob Hersch, Pogo McCartney
Interviewees: Anton Zimmermann, Jakob Hersch

Nationality: German

Occupation: Drummer (Anton), bassist, multi-instrumentalist, producer (Pogo), guitarist, multi-instrumentalist (Jakob)
Current Release: Seoi Nage's The Gentle Way EP is out now.
Recommendations: Book: Ocean Voung's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is beautiful and brought me to tears; movie: Everything Everywhere all At Once is just creative bliss.

If you enjoyed this interview with Seoi Nage and would like to hear more music, visit the band on bandcamp.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

Jakob: I started playing the classical guitar when I was 9 years old and quickly wrote my own songs as a teenager. I have always been an auditive person though, passionately listened to audiobooks and could get lost in it for hours, especially the ones with creative sound design.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

Anton: I love using music to reach a cathartic state, that is the most cleansing experience for me that I don’t get from anything else.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
Jakob: I never considered music and art my only monetary income until it became that way on its own. I think that really helped me to never compromise my artistic vision and output in order to “make it”. That is a real blessing and privilege. We’ll see how it turns out in a few years.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

Jakob: I try to stay in a soft state in all my relationships and passions. I like the idea being constantly malleable and open for transformation and not turning into a rock as in hard to change and reaching a standstill.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
Jakob: My personal approach to creating music is very simple as it is purely emotional. I am rarely interested in realizing intellectual or musical concepts by applying certain compositional techniques like an exercise. I rather try to convey a very distinctive emotion in all my music. That may however change into something abstract or direct.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

Jakob: Originality should always be taken with a grain of salt I think. Everything is rooted in some form tradition and (pop)culture anyways, whether the artist is conscious of it or not.

As long as you try to build on something and add value to the cultural discourse I think you are on a good way. Trying to strictly replicate a sound of the past was never appealing to me.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

Jakob:I was always intrigued by sound design and organic materials for foley and ambience and combining interesting media with modern production techniques. This way I always find emotional value in everyday situations and feelings in even the most artificial musical worlds.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
There is no such thing as a routine for me. I change places and surroundings a lot.

For the last 1 ½ years I lived remotely in the countryside, then again I move a lot to work with different musical projects in different environments and am on the road a lot. So the mix of no privacy and all the privacy and peace you could hope for poses new challenges and influences everyday.

I also try to work whenever I experience a creative spark, that could be in night or on my way to commute somewhere.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

Anton: The creative process is always a bit different for me. But one fascinating aspect of it is when ideas develop so quickly and without overthinking, that you almost get the feeling of not really doing anything. At this point, the ideas and the music have a life of their own.

For example, the album “Pizzeria Venezia” by didekind (available on youtube and bandcamp) took us only two months from start to finish. On the other hand, there are times, when everything doesn’t seem to work and you really go to rethink what you have done.

For me, each aspect has its own kind of rewarding feeling. The most important thing for me is though, that you’ve got to have the discipline to show up for work everyday and to be open for everything that will come up during the progress.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

Anton: It is really hard for me to pick a preference, because each constellation has its own pros and cons.

I think it’s important to find your own perfect balance between these two approaches and to know when which one will benefit the outcome of your current project.

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

Anton: My creative work makes me feel good and gives me a feeling of having a purpose. So it’s relating to the world by giving me stability and confidence in my everyday life.

The most important role of music for society (and for me as well) is the ability to enhance or even transform emotions in a way a nothing else can. By doing so, it can deeply connect people.

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

In some sense it helps me with the understanding of those things nearly on a daily basis. My own music helps me stay present and to have fun, but also to maintain a balance between taking nothing too seriously and taking everything very seriously at the same time. This mindset helps me to enjoy life as best as I can and to not fear death as much, for an instance.

Listening to other people’s music is a constant emotional anchor and regulative force almost everyday in my life.

How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?  

Anton: In my opinion both disciplines aim to bring order to something unclear and chaotic. And this task reveals that it’s a never ending journey of constant change in both cases.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

Anton: I believe that everyone can express themself the best with something they love the most. So it seems to me that a piece of music can have a similar kind of depth as a brilliant cup of coffee, although these two things are completely different experiences.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

Anton: One explanation for that ist that can music also works as a language which every individual on the planet understands to some degree. Music can transmit messages with and even beyond words.

Even rhythm alone is so primal and kown to so many people that it can sync movements and brain waves of people and makes them feel united. I’ve heard that music (lisiting and especially playing it) stimulates the brain like nothing else does and I think that this is also a reason why music can go so deep on so many levels.

Last but not least, music is fun! And I think most people can learn or understand something better if it’s appealing and interesting to them.