Wade deep enough into the musical swamp of Sheffield and there’s always something mysterious lurking, ready to bite and be pulled from the muddy waters. Enter: The Seamonsters. This up-and-coming 6-piece band fronted by Naomi, Ella, Lauren, Ciara, Holly and Tassie introduce to our music scene something that’s been long overdue – a young, all-female band bursting with verve and catchy indie-pop ditties.
Meeting up at the Forum after their Exposed: In Session photo-shoot, their funky fashion exudes their personalities, both individually and as a group. Plus, since it is Sheffield (and December), the glitter, 70s-style boots and gold-flecked trousers brighten the room considerably. As the others grab a drink before we start, keyboard player Ella joins me, and after a friendly greeting (and plenty of excitement between Naomi and Lauren over what looked like a delicious looking caramel slice), we got down to business.
So how did you all get to know each other?
T: Well, a lot of us knew each other from when we were really little. We formed the band when we were 13, and Ella came in later. We just kind of started it when we were really young because there were other bands our age in school and stuff, but we never thought it’d get serious.
Sheffield can be seen as quite a male-dominated music scene. Do you think this has helped you stand out?
E: It definitely makes us stand out as a band, the fact that we are girls. We do experience a lot of sexism and it s a very male dominated industry – but we don’t specifically try to sound like a ‘girl-band’, we just love making music.
T: Yeah, I think it was just we happened to be friends and wanted to be in a band. We didn’t even look at it like that; there was no thinking that we’d be at a disadvantage because we were so young and it wasn’t on our radar.
N: When we started we just wanted to play some covers and do what others in our year were doing. As we progressed to doing gigs and playing with mainly all-male bands we realized how much inequality there is. You’ll have comments like “They’re actually quite good for girls” or Ciara will get “You’re a really good drummer for a girl.”
C: It can be hard to get taken seriously. Every time we come on stage people think we’re going to be like Girls Aloud or something!
It’s still pretty rife, isn’t it? I saw you call out a venue in Middlesborough who openly banned girl rock bands.
C: They banned any female-fronted band because apparently ‘girls can’t sing or play rock’. Some customers would always complain whenever there was a girl singing rock and the pub decided to ban them.
E: It dismisses so, so many great singers. I mean – Debbie Harry! I think it just shows how backwards some people still are.
C: We saw a conversation on Twitter where a person said they didn’t like us and someone replied saying ‘Well, you just don’t like girl bands’ – nothing to do with the genre or style of music, just the fact that we’re girls.
I imagine that ignorance just drives you more?
N: I love it! It definitely drives us.
T: It definitely encourages us to do more, play more gigs and get out there.
L: We definitely feed off people not believing,
E: Of course, we’d rather people appreciate the work that we put in and our music, rather than the fact we’re an all-girl band.
Yeah, I was going to to ask how you managed to balance band duties around studying.
E: You don’t! It’s really quite difficult.
T: I think this was the only day we were free until the Christmas break.
E: For the whole month, this was the only Sunday we were all free. I’m still studying at 6th form; Tassie’s at college; Ciara, Holly and Naomi are at uni; and Lauren’s always sleeping!
Is there a motivation to go against what people might expect and surprise people with your music?
E: Definitely. We wrote three songs over the summer – ‘Like a Girl’, ‘Blue Movie Baby’ and ‘L’amour Est Un Jeu Fou’ – which are all completely different. We’ve become a bit more experimental and we like the idea that our songwriting isn’t predictable.
C: We went to stay at my uncle’s in Scotland, he’s got a house in the Highlands that was free all summer, and we pretty much wrote a song a day. It was amazing because it was the most time we had all year to get together and work on our music.
Woah, it’s pretty cool that you’ve written a song in French! I’m not sure many Sheffield bands have done that before.
N: It’s my favourite at the moment, there’s a kind of dramatic, Bond-like feel to it. I also really like singing in French.
Are you fluent?
N: No! It took a while get the pronunciation right. Like, we did it on Google Translate and my mum’s fluent in French so she eventually corrected it all for us. She’s helped me with it and I feel I’ve pretty much mastered singing ir properly now!
N: We just can’t wait for people to hear it and get the other tracks out there. We’re also looking forward to getting around the country for a few gigs soon.
Ah, a tour in the pipeline? When do you think that might be happening?
N: Either next month or the month after. We really want to get the new music out there. Like, the ‘Max and Archie’ single was released recently but we wrote it over a year ago and feel like we’ve already changed quite a lot.
Changed in what way?
T: Well, I think our first singles – ‘Lost and Found’, ‘Wonderland’ and ‘Max and Archie’ – fit into the whole “Indie Glitter” thing, that category of summery fun. The new songs aren’t really like that.
N: There’s a darker side to us as well. We can go quite angry and dramatic when we want to.
How have you found the Sheffield music scene to be part of? There seems to be a proper little community coming together at the moment.
N: Definitely. I think it’s such a good community of bands that really support each other and I think, especially if you’re starting a band at such a young age, it is such a good city to be in.
L: And the fact that Sheffield’s like a big village, you instantly have connections everywhere you go or play.
E: Even from really small artists up to like bands like Reverend and the Makers, they’ve been really supportive of us. Everyone will help each other out if they can.
Also, you recently supported none other than The Undertones! That must have been a big moment?
N: The Undertones gig was so good, definitely one of our best gigs to date.
E: I think we were all a bit worried at first. Obviously, you’re thinking this is a huge punk band from the 70s/80s and wondering how their crowd would react to us. We needn’t have worried though because it was such a nice, proper Sheffield crowd to play to. We spoke with Michael Bradley afterwards and he played us on his BBC Radio Ulster show, which was really cool of him.
When can we hear this new sound in terms of a release?
T: New music, I think, will be arriving around January or February time.
E: We have songs that are recorded, so they just need mixing and mastering before we can get them out there.
N: We’re literally just working this out as we go along!
E: We’re currently in the works of working with a new producer but that’s not confirmed yet – a very good producer indeed, may I add. There’s some more exciting news which we can’t really announce yet! So stay tuned!
We certainly will.