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May 11, 2014 | by  | in Arts Music Online Only |
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10 minutes with Sean from Homeless Atlantic

The name Homeless Atlantic is far from a generic kiwi band name. Think anything beach or roots related. The word homeless evokes urban imagery, everywhere but nowhere specific, a sojourner that never reaches a destination. Then say Atlantic and the image becomes a vast, open ocean covering 20% of the earth’s surface. There are no strings attaching the band to kiwi music at all. Juxtaposing two undefined, global and desolate things makes it hard to put Homeless Atlantic into any conventional category. Their newly released E.P. “Echoes” is just that: eerie, enticing, a string of constantly morphing sounds turning one emotion into another within the space of a song. “Echoes” is the movement of undefined sound that holds itself together through consistency of style. There are no lyrics or words. Voice is used as a mere sound just as distinctive as the guitar. Everything in the E.P. transcends boundaries. Well, “there are no boundaries for independent music made from home,” says Sean when we met to discuss Wellington music.

So, you record music at home. What’s your music production set-up?
Homeless Atlantic is a duo and we approach the writing and recording process as two distinctive musicians. We both compose demos and ideas in our own bedrooms on a computer program called “Reaper”. This usually begins with a minute-long basic guitar part with a melody being recorded by one person and then rendered down to an MP3. Once the tempo of the song is established, the MP3 is then emailed back – but this time with a rough drum pattern and bass-line. This is the basic formula from which our music is created and produced. We are never in the same room together when we make music.

What’s the ideal for an independent musician?
Although I think that independent musicians enjoy the freedom of having total creative control over their art, ideally there is an aspect of compromise involved. Its very easy for bands to be independent from record labels today as technology has empowered musicians a lot. Take music distribution for example. 30 years ago before online platforms such as ITunes and Spotify were around to get your music distributed and sold in record stores you almost had to be signed to a record label. Today however, the Internet has rendered A&R agents and record labels obsolete, as anyone can sell their music online and get it played nearly anywhere. The power of the Internet also provides an audience of potential listeners and people who can instantly discover new music at their fingertips on an unprecedented scale. I guess this is where the definition of “independent” is changing though. While independent musicians are free from the influence of record labels, they are not fully independent from the clasp of the Internet. I’m not saying this is detrimental, I’m just saying that being “independent” is much more of a loosely-defined concept today. A big part of being a band today seems to be about “including” and establishing your presence on places like “Facebook”, “Twitter” and ‘Tumblr”. This is where the idea of being “independent” is ultimately compromised, creating an interesting irony. I think the ideal for an independent musician is to have creative control over your own music and how it is sold while still being able to access funding for things like music videos and having your music professionally mastered.

What is your approach to recording music?
It involves a lot of trial and error. The composing process is entwined in the recording process, and so the sounds we create mostly come from experimenting with different recording effects and plugins. Our aim is to be as critical as possible. A lot of detail goes into every piece of recorded sound – even if it only lasts for a few seconds on the final mix. Because there are various layers in our music, a lot of the actual time crafting the songs is spent simply mixing the levels, adjusting the equalization and panning the sounds. A good overall mix is important otherwise certain sounds may not be heard or in some cases might be too audible. I like to think of our music as a “sonic landscape” and part of having a dynamic landscape that rises and falls sonically is ensuring that the mix is smooth.

How do you feel about the response to your latest release?
Everyone so far has been really positive and encouraging which always means a lot. Its so humbling when we get messages from people overseas who have just discovered our music and tell us that they have been enjoying our tunes. I like the idea of music connecting people and transcending beyond borders.

How do you define success for your music?
For me, being successful is simply about being happy. So as long as the music you make brings you happiness then your music is a success. I’m a firm believer that your own songs should be your favourite music to listen to. I say this without any arrogance. Because music is such an emotionally powerful outlet I quite naturally feel drawn to listening to my own music as a sort of healing-process or as a way of reconnecting with a time or place in the past.

What is your favorite Wellington band and live performance?
Secret Knives for the band and Seth Frightening’s performance at Puppies last year opening for Mount Eerie.

What do you appreciate most about Wellington music?
I appreciate that there is a real sense of community amongst Wellington musicians. Because our city is relatively compact, you see familiar faces around town all the time and even if you don’t know them personally everyone is approachable. The small city feel seems to break down any sense of hierarchy between bands and musicians also.

“Echoes” is available for download and to stream from the band’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/homelessatlantic.

 

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