Sebastian Field is well-known in the Canberra music scene through his work in Cracked Actor, Burrows and Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens. A self-trained piece of the Canberran Furniture, he is now stepping out as a solo performer with his debut album ‘Picture Stone’ due out later this year.
The Street talked to Sebastian before the Canberra launch of his new single Liberty Bell on May 3rd.
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND?
A tricky question to start off with, as I feel it’s shifting a little, right at this very moment. For the most part it’s somewhat ambient and textural but finding myself at the end of the recording process has prompted a type of evolution that I’m not yet sure of the outcome. I’m becoming addicted to guitar pedals which is the cause of the change, and though the immediate alterations are resulting in more ambience and more texture, it’s otherwise seeming like the end is not yet in sight. Perhaps I’ll end up sounding like The Heartbeat of VY Canis Majoris, who knows?
YOU HAVE EMBARKED ON A CREATIVE JOURNEY FROM BAND LEADER TO SOLO SINGER/SONGWRITER. WHAT HAVE YOU DISCOVERED SO FAR?
I have confirmed for myself that energy that can tend to be steered towards band dynamics can more appropriately be directed to service the act of creativity and the music itself. That is not to be denigrating towards collaboration (as that’s the content of the next question), it is merely an acknowledgement of one’s limited resources, and using them more wisely. An aside to that though, doing things on one’s own does illuminate the gaping holes where there’d otherwise be external input or suggestion. It has been a bit confronting to come head to head with my creative shortcomings.
TALK US THROUGH YOUR PROCESS OF COLLABORATION WITH OTHERS.
My collaboration process in regards to making Picture Stone was only limited to with a few artists. Sam King (Burrows), who produced the album, very often had ideas to fill in the spaces where I had none. He’s pretty much on the money always, what a genius. Luke Sweeting, Emma Kelly (Happy Axe), Matt Lustri all feature on the record, through a process of either playing what I’ve asked or adding their own ideas. What a talented bunch of people.
WHERE DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM FOR YOUR SONGS?
In regards to inspiration for songs I’ve a bit of a question mark. I don’t really ‘get inspired’, I don’t think. Moreso, I’ve come to understand that what is happening when I’m able to be creative is a communication of emotional states from my past experiences which I otherwise find difficult to articulate. And that happens when it wants, really. I wonder if that’s the right answer to this question? Surely enough you, the reader, might have an opinion?
WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS FOR WRITING SONGS? WORDS FIRST? MUSIC?
My creative process is a little undefined for me, really. I absolutely hate sitting down and writing stuff. I’m kind of avoidant in that sense. I much prefer the content that I produce that comes about by either zoning out (which necessitates just mucking about for long enough for that to happen) or by mistake (which produces the best stuff, in my opinion). Otherwise, definitely words last. If they don’t somehow present themselves through the course of creating the music, I can cause myself a conniption trying to flesh out lyrics.
LIBERTY BELL IS ONE OF THE SONGS FOR YOUR FIRST SOLO ALBUM – PICTURE STONE, WHICH YOU ARE RECORDING IN DIFFERENT CANBERRA LOCATIONS. TELL US MORE.
Picture Stone is an artsACT funded project, of which the crux of the undertaking was to record in varied locations around Canberra, intermarrying the aural qualities of the spaces and locations into the final product. The spaces we used were Ainslie School, The Fitters Workshop, Tidbinbilla, Merloc Studios, The Polish Club Men’s Bathroom, Reconciliation Place, Skyspace and Llewelyn Hall, to name a few. It is complete and will be shared later in the year 🙂
YOU WILL BE JOINED ON STAGE FOR THE LAUNCH BY HAPPY AXE AND EMBARKING ON AN EAST COAST TOUR. WHAT CAN YOUR CANBERRA AUDIENCES EXPECT?
Quality banter, haha. The aforementioned journey from band member to solo performer has largely been coloured by finding greater comfort in being uncomfortable in front of crowds. And the form that exploration takes is through quality banter – by quality I mean bad banter, I hope that’s understood, haha. Anyhow, I let the discomfort out these days, or, perhaps more precisely, I let people in to share in the uncomfortable moments. Does that make sense? In any case, it makes for a different mood between myself and audiences each gig. For the most part it seems like they enjoy it. Also, I’ll play music. But anyhow, the creation of tangible energy between myself and the group can be quote invigorating, at the very least I’m looking forward to it.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
Well, the album will be out mid-year, which will be followed up by a subsequent tour. We’re just sorting that all out now.. After that I’ll be heading to Japan for a small run of shows over there and then, when the new year comes around, I’d like to be recording again to get out the back log of bits and bobs that I have floating around at the moment. Also, if you’re interested, I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Primary Education and, more immediately to the question ‘what’s next for you’ is this bloody assessment that I have to finish. Please help.
WHAT’S INSPIRING YOU CREATIVELY AT THE MOMENT?
I answered a similar question for BMA recently, so I’ll give a similar answer. What’s inspiring me creatively at the moment (though there’s that word ‘inspire’ again) is a combination of tidiness, quiet and space. Where the former is concerned, I actually have trouble doing anything if I find myself in clutter. And things have been quieter for me of late, which is of notable positive influence where my connection to my creative self is concerned. And even just to be a bit more specific, I’m currently enjoying an extended stint of dog-sitting. Spending time with an animal is grounding, much like the tidiness, quiet and space.
WHAT ARE YOU READING AND WATCHING CURRENTLY?
I just finished reading Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari, which was a corker. Next on the list is The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. I don’t really watch much on the telly. I have however, as alluded to earlier, been addicted to YouTube videos about guitar pedals. There is a brave new world of innovation where they’re concerned, really exciting. If anyone who is reading this and is a guitarist (or whatever, really), and isn’t yet aware of these exciting developments, please get amongst it.