INTERVIEW

“I just wanted to make sounds in my bedroom for people to listen to on their headphones and absorb themselves in.”

seams

Photography by Owen Richars

“I just wanted to make sounds in my bedroom for people to listen to on their headphones and absorb themselves in.”

“Really soul-destroying!” It’s about as apt an appraisal of pushing around a glorified shopping trolley, dodging the laser-guided missions of self-important customers and loading the items people are often too lazy to pick up themselves can be.

The ins and outs of being an online trolley monkey isn’t often an opening gambit you can casually drop into conversation (unless you’re actually working in Tesco, that is) but when you’ve walked through the valley of the aisles of death, you feel a certain kinship with another retail survivor.

One time home shopper, current student and increasingly prominent Gold Panda tour mate, James Welch – aka SEAMS – has been making friends, and noises, in all the right places.

“The association with Gold Panda has made the difference in terms of approval,” he admits “and touring with him and Dam Mantle has helped me so much. There’s been loads of jamming around, loads of ideas and I love how loose it is. Everything seems as though it could fall apart at any moment but it makes it exciting.”

From self-proclaimed bedroom producer to Pitchfork phenomenon (two tracks featured in one week is a phenomenon, right?) it’s marked a growing swathe of appreciation for SEAMS following his ‘Nightcycles’ release. Languid, mellow yet skittish in places, it bears some hallmarks of Four Tet at his incendiary best, but James isn’t about to commit to any definitive style just yet. He couldn’t, it, erm, seems, even if he wanted to.

“The Pitchfork thing feels like a stamp of approval. As soon as they went ‘Pitchfork Approved’ a few people started asking if I can do a remix for them and it’s just a bit bizarre because you’re a teenager reading up on stuff, and the next thing your record is on the page next to a Warp release.

“I’ve always kind of wanted to make stuff but I was never really sure what I wanted to make. The idea of mixing lots of elements together and transforming those elements into something different always appealed to me.

“For a lot of the stuff I’ve made so far, I’ve always had an idea of a technique or an experiment that I want to try, then I‘ll make a big mess and tidy it up into something not so song-based; something that resembles more of a track. It’s like, ‘can I make a track out of one guitar note?’ It’s that kind of approach and it’s just…fun.”

It’s a resoundingly simple ethos, even if the approach is a little haphazard, but James is anything but reserved in his critical analysis of himself and his music.

“I definitely wouldn’t ever say I’m a DJ or try and do a DJ set,” he states. “I have no idea about mixing or anything. I haven’t come from that background where I learned to mix then wanted to make my own music. I just wanted to make sounds in my bedroom for people to listen to on their headphones and absorb themselves in.”

From the modest intention of cocooning listeners in a world of spatial, headphone meandering, there’s a darker side to SEAMS’ work. With the promise of mixing it up for his next release, it appears James has engaged himself in a battle to nail the definitive SEAMS sound.

“I released ‘Nightcycles’ because I figured I wasn’t going to use it for anything but it’s a lot different to the stuff I’m working on now. This stuff is a lot darker, a lot bassier with a bit of techno, a bit of hip hop… and it’s strange, because if I listen to the album, ‘Nightcycles’ and the newer tracks, I still can’t quite hear the thread between them.”

It’s a challenge for a man working with experimentation in mind, but it’s a self-made motivation and mentality that reflects the thought and the process that seduced James in the first place. Like any music obsessive, he’s guided by a desire to devour, deconstruct and do it all over again, regardless of how long it takes.

“I would like to spend all my time somewhere that isn’t my bedroom mixing songs. I’ve got another stand alone single and an EP written and recorded but I’m in an attic room and it sounds dreadful. I’d just quite like to tuck myself away in a studio and get that done. But I’m back to Uni in September, so I’ve got a bit of a deadline.”

As he juggles work, study and a quickly burgeoning place amongst electronica’s elite, you can’t help but feel that despite his introspective analysis, if he’s got it this right first time round, SEAMS’ mean side promises to be something quite special indeed.

By Reef Younis

Originally published in issue 17 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. May 2010

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