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Seamas FAQ

Can you describe your music?

I take different musical influences, combine them, mutate them into something different.  Sometimes true to the original form, at other times altered to suit the mood.  Influenced by free innovation of Frank Zappa, and groups like the Grateful Dead.   Sometimes sci-fi folk, other times classical guitar, jazz, celtic, blues, rock’n’roll, maybe within the same song.  

And your lyrics?

Words of personal and planetary transformation:  Born of childlike wonder, pain, angst and rage, self-honesty, humor, and utopian idealism saying:  There is a better way to live.

Some songs seek balance between masculine and feminine parts of self, balance with nature.

There’s something good in humans.  We won’t quit!  Regenerative power of nature is infinite.

Things look rough.  I remain optimistic.

I aspire to tell stories through music.  Someone accused me of writing me of writing my blog like a novel.  Sure, or why not a screenplay?

I write affirmations to remind me who I am.

How did you begin playing music?

When I was nine, my parents took me to see “the Yellow Submarine”, which became my first Beatles record. Watching that movie, I knew that I wanted to be a musician.  It wasn’t a decision, rather a sub-conscious reflex, knowing that this is what I am.

I started playing drums. Two first nations brothers in a Prince Rupert foster home, Wilber and Herbie (family name, alas, unknown), had a drum kit.  Wilber showed me how to keep a beat, how to coordinate my four limbs.  Thanks, you got me started!  I drove my mother crazy, drumming on the kitchen table with my fingers!  I have never owned a drum set myself, but I play at every opportunity, and have a strong rhythmic influence in my guitar playing.

Did you take lessons?

When I was twelve, I took piano lessons for a year.  I had my first guitar lesson when I was thirteen, got a classical guitar and an electric guitar, and have played ever since.

My teachers have included classical guitarist, Joe Dugdale, two jazz guitarists, Don Morrow and Colin McQuarrie, and more recently, heavy metal virtuoso Dave Martone.  I’ve learned from guitar magazines, borrowed licks from records, and jammed with musicians of many different stripes, learning as I go.

I’ve had excellent singing teachers, including Edwin Coppard, who also taught me song writing, and how applied kinesiology works with musical performance.  Peak Performance Training for Musicians!   I took courses in music appreciation, ear training and music theory at college.  I listen constantly and attentively, continually refining my appreciation of music.  I studied acting with Alex Bruhansky, and Paratheatrical Research with Antero Alli.

Who are your primary musical influences?

I grew up listening to Winnie the Pooh records (pre-Walt Disney, with cool melodies and instrumentation, by artists such as Frank Luther, some of which are findable on Spotify, Youtube and elsewhere), Leonard Bernstein conducting Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, the Swingle Singers performing Bach, Beatles, Stones, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Pete Seeger, Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Baez, Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, Phil Ochs, the Woodstock Soundtrack and other influences that came with the late sixties and early 70s.

Influences show up in interesting ways.  Eddie Van Halen’s impeccable rhythm playing has influenced my acoustic guitar method.  If I sometimes sound like Michael Hedges, it comes from applying Van Halen to acoustic guitar.  

Hearing and seeing Ani Difranco has influenced my “heavy wood” stylings.  I heard her say: “I drew blood in the first set.”  Folk Punk hit the strings like playing a drum!  

For this reason, I can’t grow my nails.  They break, every time I try. Guitar is a percussion instrument.  I like to drum on my guitar, heavy wood style.

Through my teens I was exposed to diverse ethnic music from all over the planet.  I learned blues from Joe Dugdale, who taught me how to slow records down to 16 rpm and copy the licks of Johnny Winter, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and others.  This was my foundation in ear-training. He told me “if you can sing the notes, you can find them on the guitar.” I’ve continued to apply this approach ever since. He also gave me a foundation in fingerpicking, playing walking bass lines with my thumb while playing chords and melody with my fingers.

I am a devotee of the Hendrix and post Van Halen guitar schools.  Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Steve Hackett, and Frank Zappa are primary influences, as are progressive rock groups of the seventies, such as Focus (Jan Akkerman), Yes, Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) and Gentle Giant.  Bruce Cockburn, David Byrne(former Talking Heads front man), Johnny and Edgar Winter, Stevie Wonder and Ani Difranco are huge for me.

British folk music has affected me deeply, especially via Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Richard Thompson, Leon Rosselson, Incredible String Band, and Martin Carthy.  They have timbre and cadence when they play, what else can i say?

Wonderful jazz players!  Age 18, I saw Howard Roberts in an intimate venue. I wanted to throw away my guitar afterwards!  What he did was so amazing, I felt that I could never do it.  Now, it’s all grist for the mill.  I enjoy challenging myself.  I’ve developed a more stable flow around learning and practicing.

How did you develop your singing style?

From influences listed above, from global indigenous influences, and from people like David Byrne (former Talking Head), Nina Hagen, Edgar Winter and Bobby McFerrin.  I wanted to make my voice sound like a lot of different things.  Sometimes it sounds weird and unpleasant, to me.  I have spent a lot of time refining and softening my singing.  I noticed my habit of “vocal pushing”, seeking attention,  needing to drop my energy lower in my body to relax.

I practice toning:  Directing sound, including harmonic overtones, through the body for healing and regeneration.  This comes across in my songs as well.

Any suggestions for aspiring musicians?

Find the sounds that move you, learn how to make them.  Experiment and grow.  Make mistakes.  Irritate your family and friends.  Develop a thick skin.  Be open to feedback.  Have fun.  Repeat.

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