Wonderland sits down with German psychedelic trio Sea Moya to talk about their new EP, their native Berlin, and what they’ve been listening to.
A lot of artists out there have sounds that claim to be eclectic, but in the case of Sea Moya, it’s really true. They’re three guys from Berlin whose sound is resolutely psychedelic, but also spacious in scale, free-flowing and funky, with a healthy dash of African disco by way of William Onyeabor. They recorded most of their new EP, Twins, between some shipping containers and compose their music via jam sessions: yep, they’re those kind of guys.
One of their big tracks from earlier this year, “Do Things”, had a dangerously addictive funk-guitar riff that acted as a stabilising anchor whilst synth madness and cosmic-electronica rippled and ricocheted from ear-to-ear around it: wonderful stuff. “Slow Down” was another one we’re still sticking on repeat – it nicely showed Sea Moya’s range and lived up to the hazy, deliciously-soporific promise of its name (“just imagine you are standing on a Tibetan mountain”). The title track from Twins is making an impact on the group’s Soundcloud already with its progressively wonky take on pop and has got Wonderland seriously excited to hear the whole EP.
They sound like our kind of people, so we put ten questions to Sea Moya to get to know them a little bit better.
Your influences are obviously eclectic and diverse, so who are your all time-favourite musicians?
We all listen to various kinds of music so it’s quite hard to pinpoint some artists for all of us. Also we’re sometimes listening to music out of an interested musician point of view and then there’s just music we love and which we keep on listening to. Just to name some of them: John Lennon, Four Tet, Radiohead, Orlando Julius.
When it comes psychedelica, is it contemporary representatives of the genre like Tame Impala that you most respect, or do you look further back to the late sixties?
We listen to contemporary stuff for sure, Tame Impala is great. But we’re also obsessed with older psychedelic music like classic 60s psych rock, 70s Nigerian afro psych and of course German Krautrock. And it’s not just the music, but the whole aesthetic of that era we’re into.
J Dilla’s name seems to have been mentioned a few times around you guys – are you big Hip Hop heads?
We wouldn’t consider ourselves to be Hip Hop heads but now and then it hits us hard with oldskool US Hip Hop and German rap as well. The likes of NAS, Mos Def, Black Star and of course Kendrick Lamar. About J Dilla, it’s the groove and the approach to it which we love. Not just quantized and clear, more lively, slippery and floating.
Music and other musicians aside, is there anything else that really inspired you during the making of Twins?
Our studio is located in an industrial harbour and luckily has a stunning panoramic view over the water, ships are passing by and trains cross the river on a huge bridge. Although this is quite contrary to our affinity to nature this scenery created a certain vibe which set us in a good mood to start something new. We just experimented and didn’t have a fixed plan so everything evolved quite naturally.
Things have taken off for you pretty quickly, how did you end up meeting each other and how did the band form?
Moving to the same area in Germany, we got to know each other more or less at university. We played together in another band, which then broke up and we decided to start something different and new.
Much of your process and sound comes from playing around and jamming etc., could you tell us a little more about that?
Yeah, sure. When it comes to song writing we just wire up all the gear we have and try things out. Not always together as the three piece, it’s more like everyone is doing something and recording some loops, melodies, beats or harmonies. This phase of our writing process can be wild and without to much thinking about what the song should be. Finally we put things together, arrange and rearrange to get hold of a certain mood, picture or theme that feels right.
Following on from the last question, do you each have a particular role in the process when it comes to song writing and production, or is really a collaborative effort?
During that first experimentation and jam phase there is no such thing as roles. It can be a collaborative work like a jam session including the whole band or just one of us spending a long night in the studio. Later on we mostly get back to the instruments we play in our live performances for recording the songs. There are a few defined roles, for example Elias is the one for mixing and engineering.
Obviously Berlin is renowned for its culture and, in particular, its music scene. Do you think it lives up to the hype and does it inspire you?
Berlin is definitely one of the most vibrant music cities in Europe right now. Even though we have our studio down south in Germany, we spend quite some time there and always enjoy the opportunities of the city. There is a growing international music scene which is great. On the other hand it kind of gets anonymous and you can easily loose yourself in the mass of creative working people.
After this, EP what’s the next move for you guys? An LP perhaps?
We are working on new stuff and already have some unreleased tracks with us. We still need to figure out when and how to release it. Apart from that, we have and bunch of shows this fall and we’re really looking forward to play live us much as we can.
And lastly…where do you see yourself in five years?
Uh, that’s a pretty long time. We will definitely write and put out records and hope to reach out to a growing number of people. Best case would be to travel the world, playing shows and getting to know different cultures. We’ll keep moving, experimenting with music and sound because that’s what we love.
Twins is released on the 2nd October through Heist or Hit Records.
Words: Benji Walters