Record of the Week
We take you inside our favourite new albums with the artists who made them. Today we're sitting down with English indie rockers Sea Girls to chat about their debut album 'Open Up Your Head'.
Music industry heads keep claiming to prophesize the death of guitar music, but if 2020’s output has anything to say about it, it’s pretty clear that the scene is going through a much-needed shakeup. The UK has always been a strong breeding ground for indie-rock anthems, and London-based four-piece Sea Girls are here to lead in the next generation with their debut album Open Up Your Head.
Amidst a year of absolute chaos for artists around the world, Sea Girls are continuing to power on. They sold out their whole run of UK headline shows (originally set for April), have received nods from music critics and publications right around the world, and amassed huge amounts of radio play with every single.
They’ve built a dedicated and loyal fanbase across the UK thanks to four brilliant EPs that have seen the band become a mainstay inside bandrooms and across festival season. Add all that to a list of achievements that include being the only band named on BBC’s Sound Of 2019 list, tour dates around the globe, and performances at Reading and Leeds Festival three years in a row – quite a mantle for a band who is only now releasing their first album.
Sea Girls aren’t ashamed to discuss their biggest influences – and if you are a fan of indie rock staples like The Killers, The Strokes, or The Arctic Monkeys you’re sure to find something to love here – but they have always had something a little extra bubbling under the surface, and on Open Up Your Head the band are in full flight.
While indie-rock anthems, bursting with joyous melodies and huge guitar and synth hooks for days, abound across the album’s 50-minutes, there is also a darker, brooding introspection and honesty that cements frontman Henry Camamile as a truly brilliant songwriter and storyteller.
“I don’t buy all the love and flowers stuff. Real relationships fall apart, you get hurt and you have to deal with it so you do what you have to do to get over it. I think what has saved me is music,” Henry explains.
On Open Up Your Head, Sea Girls are getting deep and dreaming big, and by the sounds of things, by the time their next tour dates finally roll around, they’ll be more than bursting out of those bandroom walls.
We sat down with the band’s drummer Oli Khan to chat about the album and get to know Sea Girls a little better.
The Sea Girls Story
From the beginning
Sea Girls: “We all started making music in our teens. We grew up in an exciting time for guitar music and it’s something we were all naturally drawn to. We met at school and played with each other in various forms before we ended up all joining together once we moved to London.
“I think the rush of creating something exciting and sharing it with whoever will listen has always driven us. When a song is working and you feel like a unit there’s no greater feeling.”
What you’ll hear
Sea Girls: “Our sound is indie rock with flashes of pop and electronic music thrown in. We are pretty influenced by the music we listened to growing up, but since then we’ve expanded our tastes and slowly filtered other influences through the indie-rock lens.
“We spent a couple of years figuring out our sound and playing gigs to about 20 people until we wrote ‘Call Me Out’. That song felt like it lit a fire in us and showed us the potential we had. It came fairly organically out of lots of failed songs. but once we had it we knew it was the sound we’d been working towards.”
Influences & inspiration
Sea Girls: “We love big rock bands like The Killers, Kings of Leon, and Arctic Monkeys, but also the melodic sensibility of artists like Robyn and Florence and the Machine. Lyrically, Henry is really drawn to artists like Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey. Both those artists have such a poetic way of writing everyday feelings into these epic songs.”
Inside the creative process
Sea Girls: “Technically it was a fairly long process. We recorded ‘Call Me Out’ in 2016, but the bulk of the album was recorded last year. We toured so much over the last two years that we had to slot studio time in where we could.
“The bulk of it was recorded in a four week period in May 2019. Before this, we’d just go into the studio with a complete song and recorded it as fast as we could. This was the first time we could labour over songs and spend longer working them out and trying to get the best out of each one.
“I think we have naturally evolved as our career has progressed. Lots of the early songs were figured out by slogging in practice rooms and playing shows until we felt we had the song where we wanted it. By the end of the album, we were taking songs in without a clear idea and then exploring different ideas and approaches.
“‘Lie to Me’ was recorded over five days and went through so many different versions at that time. We already had the core of the song, but we were trying to find the best way to present that, and to present it in a way we hadn’t done with any other songs yet. That doesn’t mean this is the best way to record a song, but it definitely ended up taking it to a place that we wouldn’t have taken it at the start of our career.”
Behind the scenes at London’s Poole Studio (L-R): Oli Khan / Sea Girls / Rory Young
Tell us the story
Sea Girls: “About half of the songs are about Henry struggling to come to terms with a major head injury he suffered a couple of years ago. It was the kind of thing that stops you in your tracks and makes you reassess and get to know yourself again. That being said, all the songs deal with such relatable feelings. We wanted to be honest and raw and not shy away from uncomfortable feelings. While there are happy moments like ‘Violet’, there are songs like ‘Shake’ which is about feeling alienated and questioning your place in all this.”
Down memory lane
Sea Girls: “I think having a chunk of time to dedicate to recording songs was so amazing. It was lots of hanging out, trying ideas, and just generally having a fun time. We were in a great studio with lots of new gear to try out which is always a great spark for creativity.”
Sea Girls: “I think releasing this album is a highlight for us. We’ve been playing music since we were kids and I don’t think we necessarily imagined this is where it would lead. Everyone wants to be the biggest band they can be, but it’s so amazing to be able to do what we do and say we’re giving it everything we can.”
Overcoming struggle town
Sea Girls: “The biggest challenge has probably been releasing this album during a pandemic. Not being able to play shows and the 20-30 we had booked is a hard blow. We’re lucky to have an amazing fan base, and coming up with different ideas to engage with them has been so rewarding. We knew we had to keep people excited so it was a no-brainer for us to interact as much as we possibly could. We’re so grateful to have the support we do from our fans.”
For the love of music
Sea Girls: “For me, it’s getting to play the songs live to fans and seeing them singing along and seeing how much they mean to people. Letting a track out into the world is a strange feeling, and it’s always so validating to see people connect with these songs written in our bedrooms and various studios. It’s honestly so humbling.”
Say it in a sentence
Sea Girls: Open Up Your Head is…”honest rock songs to make you dance and cry.”
Behind the scenes at London’s Poole Studio (L-R): Henry Camamile / Sea Girls / Andrew Dawson
Sea Girls – Forever
“We first played this live about two years ago and the first playthrough was terrible. Henry climbed on the bar during it though, which ended up becoming a Sea Girls tradition. When Rory sent us the demo it was just intro and the first verse, and even then we knew this had to be on our album, however far away that was at the time.”
Sea Girls – All I Want To Hear You Say
“I don’t think we realised when this song came out that it would have such a big reception. Almost straight away this became our rowdiest song at gigs, this big cathartic singalong. Nothing really compares to us playing this song in Manchester and having a room literally scream ‘If you’re in Manchester will you come to my show’ back at us!”
Sea Girls – Transplant
“Lyrically this song tells such a story and pinpoints this universal feeling of not wanting a relationship to be over. It made sense for it to be the first track on the album because it’s so attention-grabbing straight out of the gate. When recording this we knew it was going to be a special song and playing it live for the first time is going to be amazing, I can’t wait.”
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