I am continually amazed at all of the awesome music coming out of Seattle and Sebastian and the Deep Blue is no exception.
I found out about Sebastian and the Deep Blue several months ago through a friend and my first thought upon hearing their music was, ‘Holy crap! This is really, really good. This is coming out of Seattle, too?!’. The band’s debut full length, Plastic Parts, is out now and it’s an album chock full of an impressive lot of songs that will stick with you long after you listen. The music is fun and upbeat with a bit of swank and sexy times folded in for good measure.
I had the chance to chat with the man behind the band, Barry Sebastian, about his music and the band’s really cool music video for ‘The Climb’.
the mixtape: Tell me a bit about yourself. I know you studied at Cornish College of the Arts and as a composer you have written works for the Seattle Chamber Players, Pacific Rims Percussion Quartet and the Seattle Philharmonic. That’s pretty awesome!
Barry Sebastian: Yep, I graduated from Cornish in 2010. I have been playing music since I was 14, making records with my friends since 15 and over the years got more and more into it and decided I should learn the ins and outs of the art form I am so inspired by. So after a few years at Shoreline CC and UW I enrolled at Cornish. In fact, I am in the process of cataloguing all my old recordings, just for fun. It’s really great to hear the progression from then to now.
Currently I am a live sound engineer at Columbia City Theater, Cornish and the Maydenbauer Center, band leader and composer for Sebastian and the Deep Blue and electronic musician and composer for the New Animals dance collective.
tm: How long have you been Sebastian and the Deep Blue? Also, tell me about how and why you named the band Sebastian and the Deep Blue. Are you fascinated with the ocean and the contents within?
BS: Sebastian and the Deep Blue has been in various forms for a couple years. It started out as an adaptation of some music I wrote under my own name. I had been writing for a chamber pop ensemble with strings and winds and the like but as I began playing out I realized that the bar scene wasn’t really equipped for what I was doing so I started re writing for horns and working it to a more up tempo thing.
I chose Sebastian and the Deep Blue for two reasons:
One: I love the ocean and I love the odd creatures that live there. I like to reflect on those odd creatures when working on the arrangements of my songs and when I am orchestrating something I tend to think in images and the ocean is inspiring in that way.
Two: When I think of my imagination the image that I see is that of a small child looking into a a deep blue whole in the ground and the whole is square shaped. Not sure why or where that image comes from but it’s there. Also, the song ‘People’ is about the influence we as people have had on the ocean.
tm: Seeing as how you are the band leader and composer for Sebastian and the Deep Blue, does the rest of the group get much of a say in the writing and recording of the music?
BS: The writing and rehearsal process is kind of a cross between the classic garage band style and that of a more traditional big band. The amount of say kind of depends on the tune, the instrument, and where I am in the process of making the song. For some songs I have a very clear direction in mind. On others, I invite more input and more liberties with the parts. Sometimes I will have a completed score for the song to give the band and other times it will be a verbal idea that we play around with until we land on something. When we land on something I will generally take that idea home and shape it a bit more and bring it back on paper or something. Martin and Kyle usually take liberties and write parts for themselves. Emily and I have written all of the vocal harmonies without sheet music. And the horns and violin are usually charted out unless it’s an improvisational section.
tm: Describe for people the music video you have for your song ‘The Climb’ from your new LP Plastic Parts and how you came up with that idea.
BS: ‘The Climb’ music video is a fun non narrative video inspired by classic side scrolling video games. It consists of a giant ‘bobble head’ singing the lyrics and a body that is constantly dancing, changing shape and moving through different environments. In the video the bodies are pretty much always moving toward the right side of the screen just like Mario. It was really an idea that just hit me in a flash. I had it written down for a while before my friend Craig Peterson approached me about making a video. I remember saying “yeah I have an abstract idea for you…” and from there we got to work. The funny part is I thought it was going to be an easy one to pull off. I was wrong. It took a few months to get it right but in the end it better than I hoped. I think the best thing is for people to check it out for themselves. So far I have had nothing but good response and a lot of laughs with the video.
tm: Do you remember making mixtapes when you were younger? And I mean on an actual cassette tape. If so, tell me about one that you either made for someone else or received.
BS: Actually, no. But my dad took me to a few Grateful Dead shows when I was super young and we did bootleg some shows by the sound board.
tm: What’s your favorite thing to drink?
BS: Fruit and veggie smoothies every morning. Bullet rye whiskey is my flavor in the evening.
tm: What’s next for Sebastian and the Deep Blue? Plastic Parts is out now for people to purchase and enjoy. Are you working on new material?
BS: Next up is the show at Columbia City Theater on Friday which I am very excited about. The current group of people in the Deep Blue are really invested in what we are doing and our live sound is at the best it’s ever been. We will in fact be recording the show. If all goes well I will mix and master it for a live album to release at some later date. Our live set incorporates two brand new songs that are not on the record, but will be on our next release which I am hoping to begin serious writing for just after this show. We will begin recording sometime in September or October. Beyond that I am planning on making a few more music video’s for some of my favorite songs on Plastic Parts. I am really interested in the evolution of the band into a multimedia band experience. I am not sure exactly what that means yet but I find it very exciting.
Sebastian and the Deep Blue play the Columbia City Theater this Friday, July 19th, opening for Eldridge Gravy and the Court Supreme and you can purchase tickets here.