Summer's here and so are the Black Seeds. We catch up with frontman Barnaby Weir ahead of their upcoming tour.
What is it that makes the Black Seeds' music a uniquely Kiwi sound?
The Black Seeds sound has a unique take and even a South Pacific expression of a traditional Jamaican music genre, that being the dub, reggae and ska music. We also are highly influenced by funk and the soulful sounds of the USA. That's no surprise as much of the world is influenced by these deep and gratifying sounds.
I guess the difference is that we tell our stories in our accent, we are unashamedly from Aotearoa and we sound like we are too. I hope most people would agree that when you hear one of our songs - come on - there's only one band that sounds like us.
How have the events and climate of 2020 affected you and your music?
I would say that everybody has had their own challenges and struggles over this year, it's been hard for most people.
One way that it has affected the band is that it has meant that we haven't been able to get together to make music in person so we have done this remotely and organised ourselves around the situation.
Creatively it's actually been a great realisation that we can work together on a piece of music without being in the same room and add our own influence to the song.
Of course, it's always better when we're all together, but when you're working on new music, being separated has its advantages creatively, when you have 100 per cent control of your own input and output.
Also, I would say that with the drama of 2020 it makes you more expressive as an artist, perhaps slightly more emotional and vocal about what you've got to say. The studio output from us over this time has been pretty reassuring, that we have a sound and something to say after a long time as a band.
Tell us a little of the story behind your new song Raised With Love.
Raised With Love started as a demo rhythm that I wrote at home in my little garage studio. Then a bit later I found a bunch of old family photos, and I was inspired by the feeling of gratitude really and so I started to write down how I felt about that.
Taking into account and putting in perspective the global turmoil in relation to the steady warm upbringing I experienced, I managed to pen some lyrics and added them to the demo. The vocal seemed to write itself on the day.
The rest of the band seemed to like the song and thought that it was a go, so we all put in some work and everyone contributed to the track making it a proper finished single, the first for The Black Seeds in a while.
And what can you tell us about your next album? How has the band and its sound evolved over the years?
The next Black Seeds album is still in production. There is no shortage of ideas and rhythms but it's always a challenge to bring these to the next level. We're just going to keep collaborating and jamming until we have a really great bunch of new songs to release.
So far it's been a good start, we have five or six almost finished songs that are sounding really good and meaningful and like The Black Seeds should.
I think the evolution of The Black Seeds all makes sense in terms of a consistency of tone and overall aesthetic. We have experimented throughout the years so I don't believe there's huge boundaries for us. It's also great to just express yourself within our own creative zone of what feels good and sounds good to us. We won't be making and releasing anything that we don't like, ever.
What song do you most love to play live and why?
Better Days for its meaningful meditation, So True for its meaningfulness for others, and
Turn It Around for the emotional and dynamic drama.
What's one location you haven't played live at yet but you'd love to?
The pyramids, Egypt.
For new fans, what one album would you recommend as an introduction to the Black Seeds, and why?
Into The Dojo for a go-to Seeds introduction, On The Sun for the scope sonically, Fabric for the latest.
What have been your favourite albums of 2020 and why?
I don't follow what's meant to be "current" only what the current pulls me to listen to.
• Slim Harpo - essential Blues that puts your songs in perspective.
• Anything by Rhythm & Sound because they are deep.
• Troy Kingi - all his music, so much soul.
Who would you want to perform on a Black Seeds tribute covers album?
I'm not sure that would be of much use to anyone but please cover our songs immediately everybody!!
Six60, Lorde, Bruce Springsteen, Benee ...etc
• The Black Seeds are touring this summer, with more dates to be announced.
Raised with Love - NZ summer tour.
December 19 – Summer Solstice 2020, Hawke's Bay
Tickets from Ticketfairy.com
December 31 – NYE20, Christchurch
Free admission. More info here
January 9 – TSB Bowl Of Brooklands, Taranaki
Tickets from Ticketek.co.nz
January 30 – The Great Kiwi Beer Festival, Christchurch
Tickets from Ticketfairy.com
February 20 – Sound Valley, Whanganui
Tickets from Soundvalley.nz