Photo by al__claude
We recently had the privilege to chat to one of London’s most exciting upcoming spooky artists, SamSeb Kierkegaard. They recently released their massive sounding debut EP ‘Luna: Fantasy Named Happiness’, which is an eclectic dark fusion of grand art-rock compositions, shoe-gaze soundscapes and MCR-esque storytelling. More below!
Greetings SamSeb! Share with us the origin story of how the project came to be?
Hi thanks for having me. The story behind the creation of the project, or myself as a musical individual is rather complex. I’ve always seen that life is accompanied by tragedies and despair: being alone, being betrayed, losing someone we dearly value, conflicts between our friends, families, and countries. We are left alone staring into the abyss of an infinite number of choices we make, always followed by instant regret in contemplating our decisions. I wanted to start this musical project because I wanted to be an artist in the hope that my music can be perhaps relatable for people, and it’s my own vision that music could be their company throughout the life journey to light from despair.
Your music is a radiant blend of Emo, Shoegaze, Psych-Rock and Art-Rock, we’re interested to hear some of your musical influences and inspirations?
I’ve always been drawn so close to darker figures and bands like Tim Burton, My Chemical Romance and David Bowie. My EP, in particular, is about the character called ‘the boy from the city of Reality’ who, you can arguably say, is my persona. The storytelling element by the means of using personas or pseudonyms is at the core of the EP, and behind doing so, I guess I was heavily influenced by Bowie, Burton and Soren Kierkegaard actually. That’s why sometimes I like bringing some theatricality to the stage when I’m performing: hand movements, facial expressions, and the things I say, for example. I bring fictional characters to life, act as that character, and sing from that character’s perspective. I hope that my audience could relate to that in their own uniquely subjective way.
One thing I find Bowie, in particular, so inspirational is that- setting aside the theatricality elements and so forth, he tried diverse range of music genres and never wanted to be a typecast. I find that so inspirational, and forces me to think outside the box whenever I’m inclined to put myself in a comfort zone.
Your latest EP ‘Luna: Fantasy Named Happiness’ is an immense aural journey, with vast sounds and theatrical arrangements. We’d like to hear about the recording process, and how you achieved some of those massive sounds?
Thank you so much! I appreciate that you see my EP that way. The recording process was rather time-consuming actually (not in a bad way), as I was working closely together with an amazing music engineer and a producer called ‘Lachlan Smith’ of Better Tone Studios based in Australia. I had so many ideas, melodies and lyrics in the making of the EP.
I wanted to convey the feeling of gradual uneasiness in a rather other-worldly kind of way, because as far as the story goes, the main character was once excited by the views he sees in the City of Dreams and Happiness that is unlike the City of Reality, but eventually he loses his mind + comes to an acceptance of the need to return back to Reality.
Since everything was done remotely, we sent emails back and forth million times to make sure we were on the right and same page. When I was recording the sound, I just tried my best to make sure I wouldn’t disturb my neighbours. Although, there was a number of occasions they banged on my wall a lot.
The writing of Luna: The Myth of Sisyphus was rather challenging. I needed to make sure I could achieve the soaring post-hardcore kind of sound but at the same time make it sound dreamy and ethereal, so I guess that’s where the shoegaze + psychedelic elements come in: distorted, reverbed guitar, inaudible spoken dialogues. I’ll leave that to my listeners to decide whether they get that sensation. I particularly enjoyed using my Fender Squire Jazzmaster on this track with a tremolo bar, to convey the audible channelling of recognising of the need to return back to Reality + disappointment coming right in your face like a storm crashing the city down- what we loved so much but all in our unhealthy illusions.
Lyrically, ‘Luna: Fantasy Named Happiness’ is conceptual and narrative driven. Are there any writers or artists that inspire your lyrics?
The list will be endless to say who I was inspired by, but I’m a big fan of how Peter Gabriel does the storytelling in his early Genesis era, so he inspired me a lot. In particular, however, I think I was just inspired by a lot of existential philosophy books I read like Camus or Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Anxiety, is about many things but primarily about anxiety haunting down on us because the possible outcomes followed by our decisions are endless. “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”. You’ll see that being reflected in the lyrics from the EP. Our main character is clueless about what should be done, and he is deeply upset about his inability to choose the right decisions.
The artwork of your singles and EP are a great visual representation of the sounds and story behind your music. Could you tell us about the creation of the artwork?
It was really important for the album artwork to convey the notion of other-worldly like feelings and beauty of what does not exist to the listeners. I worked closely with a talented digital artist called Marcelo to achieve this (marcelofdz).
That being said, I had to make sure Luna (the Moon) would be emphasised in all the singles I released prior to the EP release. You can see the gradual changes in the colours and the vibes the artworks give off, in such a way that the initial curiosity + excitements are no where to be found along with the disappearance of the girl who appeared under the moonlight (Luna Moonlight, the heroine). The boy is trapped in a loop where he is in constant search of the girl that disappeared who will never appear again (Luna: Dependent Personality Disorder), which eventually leads him to pass out to find himself in the city of Dreams and Happiness in ruins, whose glorious beauty never to be found anymore (Luna: Fantasy Named Happiness EP artwork).
You’ve recently formed a live band which is exciting! Could you introduce the band?
I had my amazing friends that wanted to perform with me back in the Engine Rooms. However, I have not just yet formed a live band haha. Hopefully, one day I will. But to redirect that question, I think the question I should answer is ‘what’s the most rewarding part about playing together with a band?’ – I think the last time when I played at Engine Rooms gig as a support act for vedawave, I felt this immensely as I was singing and playing. There was this momentariness of togetherness, as I tell the audience the stories of my persona- the boy from the City of Reality. The looks we exchanged with one another, playing the same song together in that moment in unity- they were all so beautiful. That was my first time playing together with a band, and I can vividly recall that night. When I started our set, with Luna: The Invisible Irony as I saw people coming to see us playing, I just had that sensation that I never felt when I played alone on stage. I did the makeup for my friends for my set that night. I just think there is no other similar experience out there in the world that can bring together people from different life backgrounds together on stage to be telling the audience the same story of my persona with so much energy as one joyous occasion. I’m still mesmerised by the sensation I felt that night, and I would like to feel that again.
Are there any acts in your local scene that you would recommend to readers?
Oh, so many. I’ve once opened the gig for a talented BBC introducing artist called Gabrielle Ornate. She’s been releasing a lot of cool songs, and people need to check those songs out. Also, a Canadian guitarist that played for my set at the Engine Rooms gig has now debuted with a new glam pop band called Wild Talk, and they’ve been doing gigs recently. Keep your eyes peeled guys, there are so many cool acts.
Finally, what's next for SamSeb Kierkegaard?
I have so many ideas in store that I genuinely can’t wait to show my listeners and fans. I can’t tell you just yet when they will be out, but what I want to say is that I am never a typecast and I would like to show you endless potentials that SamSeb Kierkegaard holds in store. Things have been rather quiet after the Engine Room gig, but I am not staying dormant. I will return.
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