- Fri, 2011-02-11 15:08
Julie Ann Baenziger, otherwise known as Sea Of Bees, is about to unleash her long-awaited debut album, Songs For Ravens. With a hypnotic voice, flowing melodies, and inspired yet simple lyrics, it’s not surprising that Julie looks set to take her unique indie-folk to new levels this year as she gears up to tour the UK and hit the festivals this summer.
We caught up with Julie to chat about the differences between the US and UK folk scenes, her most unforgettable live shows so far and what to expect from her debut album…
ILM: Hello! How long have you been over in London?
Sea Of Bees: About three weeks or so, four weeks almost. Just keeping busy, having fun, playing shows…
ILM: What have you been listening to recently?
Sea Of Bees: I love Beach House’s new album. You just slowly fall in love with it. And I love Bright Eyes; all of his old stuff. My girlfriend got me hooked on him. It’s just honesty and a passionate voice. I really do listen to him all the time, he’s really colourful, you know? I love Mountain Man too. The vocals and the harmonies…you can see how wild they are in their music, it’s great! I’ve been listening to some Feist too. It’s so nice going back to some of the old stuff, but I’m just not up to date with all the newer stuff! I love Wavves and Best Coast. And I love Lily Allen, she’s so good and cute! That’s like my pop secret stuff, the cute stuff! Keith at Family PR over here said he’s going to hook me up with some new music to listen to, like Light… What is that band called? Light Assembly. Really cool stuff.
ILM: How would you describe your own process of making music?
Sea Of Bees: I think the process was random. Every night I’d just have a party with my friends at my house – every other night maybe – then wake up and go to work. Then I’d go visit my friend John at the studio and he’d be like “did you write a song?” and I’d say “oh yes, yeah totally, totally done!” So we’d lay down an acoustic track, some vocals… Then I’d say “ok I have work this week, three days in a row and after that I can’t really record!” So it was always just a really slow process, like “ok, we’ll get the bass on that next week.” It was just whenever we had time we’d layer the songs up with whatever was next. We’d start off with acoustic, then bass, then the other guitars. After we had got all the basic stuff we’d start experimenting with things like synths.
ILM: Whereabouts were you working?
Sea Of Bees: I was a magnificent barista at Peach Coffee & Tea – it’s an independent coffee shop in California. I made great espressos!
ILM: Can you talk us through the wealth of different instruments that appear on your recent single Wizbot?
Sea Of Bees: I just experimented a lot with sounds. They had a glockenspiel and a little xylophone, so I played with those. I got to play with the electric guitar with a slide… I had no idea what to do with it! My friend was just like “have fun with it, call me when you’re done” and so I did. I just like making noises that fit nicely together, or at least compliment each other.
ILM: How would you describe your process of writing lyrics?
Sea Of Bees: It was influenced by my experiences. After I found a melody that I liked and that I was playing for a while I’d just fall in love with it and close my eyes. With Strikefoot, for example, I was in my room. I was kind of having a moment, crying and I wrote the lyrics to that song that night. It was more like taking the melody and fitting it with the words and experiences that were inside of me. Just putting it out there in a way that it was supposed to be put.
ILM: How would you describe the journey that Songs For The Ravens takes?
Sea Of Bees: I didn’t expect it to be anything near ‘hope’ at all. I actually wasn’t trying to do anything with it, but somehow hope just came in line naturally. I guess it’s for the lonely people. It offers hope, even if you don’t expect it or want it. It’s just there no matter what. Even if you’re jaded it’s there.
ILM: Who have been some of your biggest musical inspirations?
Sea Of Bees: They’re not really a big band but they’re old friends of mine – a band called The Honey Trees. We had a falling out and we never talked after a while, but their melodies and their soft sounds just always stuck with me. I still to this day sometimes think of their songs. No-one will know them, but yeah, The Honey Trees.
ILM: What other things inspire you to create?
Sea Of Bees: I think I wanna say love. This particular person that I call my orange. Those two things, I think…
ILM: You said you’ve been in the UK for a few weeks; how does it compare to the folk or hand-made music scene in California?
Sea Of Bees: They’re so different! Here there’s a lot of folk, over there it’s a lot of hip hop, pop, really catchy music – which is cool. I listen to it a lot of the time to see what’s up. But that’s mainly what’s out in the US, it’s just pop. Like Katy Perry, Lily Allen – it’s beautiful stuff, and well made, but that’s what’s over there. I think folk out there is appreciated by a few, like in Portland, San Diego, San Francisco… The smaller places. New York in some places. But it’s not easy to be a folk artist I guess. I do pretty well out there I guess, but I don’t know…
ILM: What do you look forward to the most about playing live?
Sea Of Bees: It’s such a high! You walk out there, you plug in, you kind of just look at the back of the stage, and then you turn around and everyone’s there and it’s like “wow!” Sometimes you see their faces and sometimes you don’t, but sometimes I’ll just close my eyes and start singing and it’s just so therapeutic. For them and for myself. Being there and listening and playing for them. It’s sometimes scary I guess. It depends who you’re playing for, but it’s definitely a high and a rush.
ILM: Which have been some of the most memorable shows that you’ve played?
Sea Of Bees: I really liked playing in Norwich, ‘cause it was at an art, kind of church, place. There was art all over, and films with just music to them, slow pictures and fast pictures… Just really pretty and eye-catching and inspiring. Playing there sounded so beautiful ‘cause it was just packed, everyone was sitting back and responded so nicely. The atmosphere was really cool. I love art. I love fresh art that speaks with different words.
ILM: What have been some of the most unforgettable live shows that you’ve been to?
Sea Of Bees: My first show ever was when I was 18 or 19. It was for a band called Copeland – they were like this emo band and I was so inspired by the sounds and the passion and the drums and stuff! So that was my first. Then my second favourite was Bon Iver. My friend took me out surfing for the day ‘cause it was my birthday, and then he took me to Bon Iver… He’s very honest in what he did and how he played that night. It’s inspiring. You never know if someone’s going to be an asshole – he was just really real and sweet.
ILM: What are your future plans?
Sea Of Bees: Well it’s been really busy… I think my plans are to finish these tours and enjoy it and embrace it. Go back home for a month or two and record a little bit, spend time with my family and friends, go biking… Then come back out here for some festivals. Afterwards I think I’m doing two tours in the US, then afterwards I’ll work on that other album. One thing at a time; just totally having a good time.