The lo-fi country pop group Seabear will be among the many acts performing at the annual Innipúkinn music festival, taking place in Reykjavík on August 4 and 5.
The band released its first LP, The Ghost that Carried Us Away, earlier this year and is planning a tour around Europe this fall.
Seabear started out as Sindri Már Sigfússon’s solo act and has slowly transformed into a large group of musician friends. Today, the group counts seven active members plus some session players that accompany them in concert. Their intimate music has been compared to the likes of Sufjan Stevens and Belle & Sebastian, but Sindri says that he doesn’t really know what type of music they play and that he wants wants each listener to judge for himself. He has proven to be an outstanding singer and musician, a clever songwriter with a humble personality, all of which helped to impress industry veteran Thomas Morr, owner of Morr Music, who signed the band to his Berlin-based independent music label. With a three-record contract in their pocket, Sindri and his Seabear project seem to be headed for international success.
No More Members!
Although Sindri has been writing music since his early teens, the Seabear moniker didn’t become a reality until after he was hospitalized in London a couple of years back.
“Yeah, I was living in London [in 2002] and ended up in hospital for three weeks. I had been working at some crappy coffeehouse but got insurance money when I was in the hospital, about 50£ a day. For that amount I bought a small recording set. That’s basically how it all started,” Sindri explains.
In 2004, Seabear’s first album, ‘Singing Arc’, a self-released home-made EP, came out and was distributed on the Internet. The album can still be downloaded for free from his website (www.seaberia.com). At that time, Seabear was still a solo project, but after being asked to open up for The Books in Berlin, Sindri, who had never played his songs for a big audience, got his two friends Guggý and Örn to back him up on stage. The twosome stuck around ever since that gig.
Then the party grew even bigger and better. Today the band features seven members who play all sorts of peculiar instruments such as ukulele, percussion, banjo and glockenspiel – instruments that Sindri has been collecting for years, but says he doesn’t really know how to play.
“I promise though that there will be no more members! It’s enough trouble to keep this group together. But it’s also a lot of fun of course” Sindri explains, adding that every one of them started out as a session player for one or two gigs, before finally joining the band.
“It’s been nice,” Sindri says, “We all get along. I meet them one-on-on in my small studio and everyone has their own input into the songs. They write their parts and I record them and then we just work from there.”
This year saw the release of his first full length album, The Ghost that Carried Us Away, which will be released in Europe this coming August and in the U.S. and in Japan in September. Touring abroad will surely follow.
“We aim to tour Europe in November and in January. We are trying to find a time that suits everyone. Everyone except me has a real job, so it can be a bit tricky, but the planning and the booking of the gigs is almost done.”
Asked how he became part of the steadygrowing Morr Music family Sindri explains, “Thomas came to the concerts in Germany and contacted me after the show. I sent him some demos and he asked if we wanted to sign a contract. About six months later that was all settled. I really like the company. It’s small, with only about 15 employees. It’s all very personal and it’s no problem to just give Thomas a call about anything. There haven’t been any major issues yet at least and no one has asked us to change anything or interfered with our music.”
A Mysterious Video
Seabear’s star has been rising quickly on the Internet ever since the EP release. International idolaters have started a Seabear Fan-group on Myspace and observing Youtube browsers might have spotted the video clip ‘The Science of Sleep Music Video’ featuring Seabear’s song ‘I Sing I Swim’ set to scenes from Michel Gondry’s surrealistic film. When asked about the clip, Sindri says he didn’t know anything about it before a friend of his informed him.
“I found it very weird, especially since the album [The Ghost that Carried Us Away] wasn’t even released at the time the video was put on Youtube. The album had leaked on the net, but I don’t know who made the music video or what his purpose was. It’s all quite funny really.”
Another Seabear music video can be found on Youtube, an amazing stop-motion video to ‘Hands Remember’ by Norwegian director Lars Skjelbreia, a friend of the group. “The video will be on the album released abroad,” Sindri says.
Sindri and his bandmates are already working on a new album: “We have loads of songs to work on and will be in the studio to record drums in September. Apart from that, there are a few small projects lined up. We will release a 7’’ in August, which will feature one new song and a cover of Undertones’ and ‘Teenage Kicks’. The Morr label, which releases these cover compilation discs on a regular basis, also has a new one planned. They’ve already done Morrissey and Slowdive and I think that the next one will be some rock band from New Zealand. Very weird but probably an exciting project. I am also working on some stuff and writing songs by myself. I don’t know what I will do with them. Perhaps they will end up on an album someday.”
– So are you planning to fly solo again? (Laughs) ”Yeah, and finally form a new band around that project.”
You can listen to Seabear on: www.myspace. com/seabear.