By: Jenna Melanson
I recently had a chance to do an email interview with singer-songwriter, Sebell. If you are looking to find out more about his background, his first single, “Till The Sun Burns Out”, as well as his upcoming EP, keep reading.
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music as a career path?
Sebell: I was in my last year of high school and I was trying to decide on a ‘real’ career. I kept coming back to music, and my parents and a few teachers were really supportive. I made a two-year commitment to try a career as an artist and songwriter. A week before grad I was asked to sing at an event hosted by Jay Leno and a multi – Grammy Award winning producer. I took it as a sign I was headed in the right direction.
Who has your main influence been?
Sebell: I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one specific person. Obviously there are influences on the musical side – Michael Jackson, The Beatles, hip hop, soul and gospel music, etc. I’m influenced by a lot of things outside of music, as well. The cities I travel to, the people I meet, the conversations we have. Art, design, a well-crafted piece of furniture or clothing – and the people behind them. The people who influence me the most are the ones who aren’t afraid to think outside the box, and sometimes tear the proverbial box apart. Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Wes Anderson, Maya Angelou and Jenna Lyons are all independent thinkers and innovators in their own way. These kinds of individuals have influenced me and the way I approach music.
You recently released your first single, Till The Sun Burns Out, what was the songwriting process like with this song?
Sebell: It started at the piano, which is where I usually start most of my songs. I came up with the title first and from there expanded the lyrical idea and melody – I usually build the melody and lyric in tandem. I kept fine-tuning it over the next few months and ended up playing it live at a showcase in Nashville right before heading into the studio to record it. That live ‘test’ helped influence some changes to the overall feel and melody of the song. Once we started building the track in the studio I made final adjustments.
How has the fan response been with your single?
Sebell: The response has been incredible. It’s crazy to see the song take on a life of its own. People have made their own lyric and music videos, recorded covers and tweet the lyrics to their loved ones on an hourly basis. I can’t even keep track of it and I love it. It blows my mind that a song I wrote is connecting with music fans not just in Canada but around the world.
‘Till The Sun Burns Out is being played in Heavy Rotation on Much Music, did you expect this kind of reaction when you chose this song as the first single?
Sebell: I think this is one of those things an artist always hopes for, but there is no way of predicting it. MUCH has long been a champion of Canadian talent and I’m so grateful they have supported my single the way they have.
You are in the process of writing your first EP, what can fans expect from the upcoming release?
Sebell: They can expect some songs similar to ‘Till the Sun Burns Out’ and some surprises. Piano is my main instrument, so that’s usually where each song is loosely based, but sonically, there are both electronic and hip hop influences and some more organic live sounds. While the EP is considered ‘pop’ in genre, I like to always keep some elements raw and gritty.
When writing, where do you tend to draw inspiration from?
Sebell: It really varies. It can be a conversation, a book I’m reading, a life experience or an observation about someone else’s experience. Sometimes it’s another song that triggers a new idea. Often it’s a phrase or word that sticks out to me and I expand on the concept. I’ve watched movies and then walked straight to my studio to write because I was inspired.
Are you planning on a cross Canada tour?
Sebell: Definitely. No immediate plans for a cross-Canada tour yet, but there are plans for some select ‘secret’ shows in cities across Canada probably starting in the fall. We’ll be announcing those details through my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds, so make sure to follow those if you want to be first in line.
If you were to plan a tour with other Canadian artists, which bands/ artists would you want to include?
Sebell: I would love to tour with Kiesza. I think she brings something really fresh and interesting to pop music right now. Metric, Chromeo and Drake are some other Canadian favourites. They are completely different, but they are all acts that people forget are Canadian, because they are so good that they resonate internationally.
In true Canadian Beats fashion, we have to ask you a few “random” questions, here goes:
What was the first song you ever sang in front of others?
Sebell: I believe I was 4 and I sang a song called “Rich Man” by a band I can’t even remember the name of now. I sang it to a little blonde girl in my neighborhood named Brianne. Obviously, I was trying to put the moves on her. Needless to say, I haven’t seen Brianne since.
What lyric, other than one of your own speaks to you?
Sebell: I love this question, because I love a great lyric. “Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo is probably not an obvious choice, but the lyric has been hitting me in a good way lately. She sings “You’re gone and I’ve got to stay high all the time to keep you off my mind…”. On the surface the lyric is pretty basic, but I think it speaks to the human condition. The drug of choice varies from person to person – work, money, shopping, alcohol, sex, food…I think we all have a tendency to look for a high that will keep our mind off things that are beneath the surface and hard to face. But it’s important to embrace that struggle and learn to appreciate it. That’s where growth happens.
With summer quickly approaching, what is your favourite outdoor activity?
Sebell: I grew up in British Columbia, so camping, boating and floating down the river with a bunch of friends on a hot summer day is high on that list.
What is one thing that your fans would be surprised to learn about you?
Sebell: Well, all my photos are black and white, so they might be surprised to know I’m a ginger. Also, the tattoo on my neck does not read “Sean Jean,” as some have assumed. No offense to P. Diddy and his iconic brand.
Last but not least, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Sebell: I want to say thank you. Without my fans it would just be me and my songs. Having you all along for the ride has made the start of this journey a million times more fun and we’re just barely getting started. I can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been working on. Keep in touch on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.