Seany B: Creatively uncontaminated
The teller of tales holds the cornerstone of civilization in his words. Through oral tradition, the storyteller educates, preserves culture, instills moral values and entertains, conveying events in words, images and sounds through improvisation and embellishment. And nowhere is the form of contemporary oral tradition stronger today than with American born, Melbourne bred Seany B. As the Scherazade of the 21st century, Seany B has marched through every aspect of the English language. A poet, lyricist, vocalist, rhymer, MC and orator, the power of his mantra speaks volumes. Words laden with scandal, acerbic wit and blunt honesty and delivered in a resonate ‘basso profondo’ in performances buoyed by his direct magnetism and latent sexuality merely glosses over the colossal tip of the Seany B iceberg. ITM sits down with the Aria award winner as he prepares for an international trip later in the year that will see him recording in Germany and the UK, while also finding out if there is, indeed, life after “that” tune.
You have always been passionate about language, writing your own words and delivering your thoughts across music. What themes and topics run through your head to inspire you to put pen to paper and then mic to mouth?
My English teacher back in high school (who I incidentally dedicated my first book of poetry to) used to teach us that it’s not about picking the ‘right’ words, but rather the ‘best’ words. The English language has so many potential manipulations that it is a shame to be shallow with one’s language. With that in mind, when I see a club or pop-cultural phenomenon that is so blatantly apparent but still to be labeled in language, it stirs a creative whirlpool in me until I have to let it all out on paper.
You are the master of collaboration; having worked in (and formed) Dirty Laundry, joined forces with TV Rock, Meat Katie, SOS Band and a load of famed artists. Is there anything in particular that you look for when you want to work with them?
Traditionally, I’ve always gravitated towards producers that have the same passion that I find in words but for their beats and music. In that way, there has always been a 50/50 split in the creation of a song. This was the case with my collaborations with TV Rock, Meat Katie, Dylan Rhymes, Mr. Jigga, D.O.N.S. and others. But since working with Michael Mugisha (also known as FINGAZ) on some songs I was writing for Sony last year, I have found myself co-producing tracks I was only supposed to be writing for. I had never been so happy in my musical career, so a full project of rhymes and my own beats is not that far in the distant future.
Flaunt It was such a massive success for you professionally. How have you recovered from the massive triumph and managed to keep your feet on the ground? What have you learnt about people from this wave of success?
Ah yes. Life after Flaunt It. I’ve learned a lot about people, but most of all, I’ve learned a lot about the industry over the last three years. It has built me up and torn me down at times – all one big learning curve to become sharper and more aware. I’ve found the best way to not get caught up in it all is to avoid compliments as much as you avoid criticism. Then it’s just you and you: creatively uncontaminated.
What would be your formula to putting on a great Seany B show? Are you adlibbing on the spot, taking material you’ve committed to memory in the past or do you sit there and learn words over and over – as if you were a singer?
The first two are spot on. The last – well. I’ve never really considered myself a ‘singer’ – even though I am singing on some unreleased tracks I have up my sleeve). It’s all a part of the hustle- freestyling, adlibbing, committing lyrics and phrases to memory. My head is a crazy place. The lyrics allow people to see through my mind’s eye.
How do you think Australia’s music industry compares to the rest of the world? What are your thoughts on Australia’s music scene?
Which scene? If you’re talking about dance – then it’s a tricky place. New labels are popping up and the local heavyweight DJs are all expanding into labels of their own, flipping off the majors. It’s an interesting time right now – let’s just say ‘Watch this space.’ But I’ve said for the last four years or so, Australia is right there with the best of them at the moment. Miami is flooded with Australian tracks, and European labels are signing Aussie dance tracks with gusto. It’s only getting bigger.
What would you say has been your greatest achievement so far? What are you looking forward to in the future?
My greatest musical achievement would probably be winning the APRA award. Winning two ARIAS is up there, but the APRA award is for writing; so on my journey as a writer, I guess that one really made me proud too.
You have been popping up at gigs and events all along the east coast of Australia for the last few months especially. This Saturday, you will be featured at the Winter Racing Carnival Lawn Party at Doomben Turf Club. How do you think your caustic wit and lyrical cynicism will translate to the crowd?
Well the guy putting on the Lawn Party Craig St. John, has always known how to put on an event – so I’m sure the crowd will be up for a great day. I’ll be in front and behind the decks with my partner in crime and turntablist extraordinaire Matt Roberts, and we’ll be throwing down some new and classics tracks to make the speakers blow!
Seany B and Matt Roberts are featured alongside local DJs Baby Gee, Habebe and Matt Kisthon at The Brisbane Turf Club Lawn Party, Saturday May 9