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Sounds x Interview: Sam Seeger // Beautiful

Sam Seeger is a New York-based musician and visual artist who grew up in a family of filmmakers, painters, and musicians. He creates songs that combine “Americana slide guitar, video-game synths, and a voice that sounds like Stephen Malkmus meets Johnny Cash.” Last week, Sam released a video for his latest single, “Beautiful,” featuring his impressive guitar chops as well as shots of his father, filmmaker David Seeger, shooting the video in a karate dojo. Working in film as well as music, Sam is not only able to record and write all of his own songs but create all of his own videos as well.

Sam took the time to sit down with us and answer some of our questions about his upbringing, art, and doing the worm:

Can you tell us a bit about your family and their involvement in your videos and music? 

My siblings and I all have bands; there’s Max’s band, The Mayor of Bad News, Ben’s band, Robots Without Orders, and Lily’s got Lily Jeanette. We’re always sending each other songs and videos we’re working on, collaborating when we can. Our parents also have a band; in the 80s they made a song called “The Karate Rap” and made this music video for it:

That video is amazing. Favorite concert you’ve ever been to? 

When I was 6th grade, my parents won tickets for us all to see They Might Be Giants.  They played their song that’s the theme to Malcolm in the Middle, and my younger brother Ben did the worm down the aisle.

Love the worm! If you could open for any band (dead or alive), who would it be and why? 

I want to open for Donny Benét. His music video “Konichiwa” showed up in my YouTube feed about a month ago and it blew my mind. He’s so good.

You use the slide a lot in your guitar playing; what do you like best about the slide and when did you first start using it in your music? 

I edited an Allman Brothers concert (Beacon Theatre 40th Anniversary) and learned a lot from watching Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks play slide. They are amazing. Slide is so expressive. I spent a lot of time living in that footage during the project; it was kind of a life-changing experience.

 Where did you record your latest release, “Beautiful”? Did you have a producer? 

I recorded “Beautiful” in my studio; it’s where I record everything. I need to name my studio though. Some call it “Sam Sound.” My father calls it “Sam Ass,” or “Sam’s Ass,” or “Sam is an Ass.” I haven’t worked with a producer on my stuff, but I am interested in producing other artists. I’m actually finishing up a song for my father. I’ve been working on it on and off for the past 5 years; that’s because he recorded 40 minutes of himself shouting dance instructions into a microphone. It took a very long time to cut that down to a twelve-minute version, and now finally I have a 3 minute one. I just need to record my mother on it, and then basically my entire family will be on this track.

What inspired you to write “Beautiful”? 

It came about from jamming with my drum machine.

Can you tell us about the making of the video for “Beautiful?” 

This is an action song, so I wanted it to take place in a dojo. I asked my father to shoot it and told him what I had in mind. He goes “Just play me the track,” listens for a moment and says, “Your idea SUCKS compared to the idea I just had.” Cut to him shooting me with a GoPro in each hand. I really love how he shot it. He does not like how I edited it though.

You also paint as well as make films; how do your other creative talents affect your music, and vice versa? 

I love when different mediums vibe together. With track art and music videos, songs have space for everything. Sometimes when I’m recording, I’ll have ideas for the video, and sometimes during the edit, I’ll have ideas for the song, so it can be fun to start shooting before everything is set in stone.

If you could make up a new term what would it be? 

“Human Shitty” – the quality that makes something “shitty” in a good way.

If you could have any super power what would it be and why? 

Flying. Looks like fun.

What were some of your favorite bands growing up? 

My brothers were always watching skate videos, which introduced me to a lot of cool music. That’s how I came across Placebo, Modest Mouse, and Throwing Muses. Loved The White Stripes—still do.

Did you play in bands growing up?

High school was when I had my first band that played out. It was called Farewell Charlie Brown, and all our songs were instrumental because we were too shy to sing.

Any news you’d like to announce? 

On May 11th, I’m competing in the Shred For Your Life guitar battle at Zebulon in Los Angeles. I did one back in October in Brooklyn. My string broke on the first note and my guitar immediately went out of tune, and I honestly don’t remember doing what followed. But there is footage:

Hope I don’t break a string in LA. In the meantime, I’ll be releasing new stuff every two weeks!

Check out Sam’s latest video for his single “Beautiful” below, and make sure to head to SAMSEEGER.com to scope the rest of his self-created music and videos: 

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