Lost at Sea with the Sea Girls

While lockdown might have forced most of us to stick this year on pause, Sea Girls aren’t a band to rest on their laurels. Hot on the heels of their debut album Open Up Your Head, the indie outfit just can’t wait to be back on the road. Singer Henry Camamile took another Zoom call for the team to talk Orla Foster through how 2020’s been stacking up….

You met at school and have been in tons of bands together. How did you know Sea Girls was the one which would stick?
Because it didn’t break up! Sea Girls just felt like it was going somewhere, things fell into place almost with no discussion. The line-up is comfortable, it makes sense. The only reason I got into music was to be in a band with Andrew, Oli and Rory. We auditioned a drummer once, and then thought ‘Why are we doing this when Oli could just learn drums?’ We help each other discover what we’re best at. It’s an ever-evolving thing.

How have you evolved since?
We’ve probably got better looking! That’s a joke.

Surely there must be some embarrassing school bands behind you?
I actually think mine and Oli’s school band was really cool! Perfect Treats. Okay, maybe the name is embarrassing. And there were some really bad songs written when we were about seventeen, because we’d agree to gigs before we’d finished any songs. I’d write maybe a first verse, and assume that I somehow knew what was coming next. Which resulted in some bad gigs with some bad lyrics.

How has that affected your attitude to gigs?
I guess being spontaneous is a good way of learning, but you’re not guaranteed to come out with anything good. I’d say 30% of those gigs were improvised. We kind of felt our way through and sometimes it would work out, sometimes not. But it was so much fun finding our way. Even now we’ve tried to keep that excitement for every show, the feeling that ‘this is the big night’. We never want to lose that.

You have quite a stadium-friendly sound. Are live settings on your mind while you’re writing?
Even if you don’t picture yourself in a particular venue, you always literally write live. It’s not something that’s happening just in your head. You’re singing out loud, you’re immediately already performing to yourself. Sometimes if I want to come up with something better I’ll move around the room and try to get a bit of energy into it. I don’t know if everyone else does that! And you do kind of hope you’ll play every song live one day. But there aren’t enough gigs in the world for that, even without lockdown.

It’s still been a prolific year for Sea Girls, with an EP in March and your album in August. How did you keep motivated?
Lockdown hasn’t really hampered us. I think creatively it’s been really good, actually? We knew even at the beginning we would release an album this year. In the meantime our fans have kept engaged with us, we’ve done lots of Instagram live shows. And now we’re putting an album out without any immediate gigs, so that’s kind of crazy. You just adapt to it, you know?

What are you most proud of with the new release?
Gosh, you know, we’re so proud of all of it. I feel weird picking out favourites. Forever feels super special. And Lie To Me is a new sound for us, it has that Americana rhythm but in a completely different style.

Do you think this album is more confessional than previous work?
Yeah, about half of the album is about matters that are a little difficult. Songs like You Over Anyone is a fake love song about my relationship with my own health. It’s about how I treated myself, with partying and things like that.

A lot of your songs seem addressed to another person, is that a conscious move?
I guess it is deliberate. Even if I’m not thinking about a real person, I’ll personify a feeling. Or I’ll even address myself, sometimes. ‘Do You Really Wanna Know’ has some hidden messages, I don’t quite lay it out on a plate. But if the lyrics seem cryptic, I’ll try to make them more accessible. There has to be an energy that people can pick up on. It has to be soulful, it can’t just be opaque.

Was it weird knowing it could be a lifetime before you performed the new material?
Playing live was always what we positioned ourselves around. We’d been playing gigs for around three years non-stop, so lockdown was a big adjustment in that sense. It’s been weird, but we’ve still been writing together, sending each other ideas. We’ve done some online recordings with a metronome, and now that things are slacker we can rehearse properly again. Music is still music, live or not.

What do you miss about being on the road?
We did our first European tour just before lockdown, which gave us a lot of purpose. But I don’t miss not getting enough sleep! You’re absolutely gone by the end of it. You’re not the full human you were at the start. That’s just the nature of it.

Any moments you’d rather forget?
Yeah, there was one festival a while back where I got too drunk. I played so badly and could barely sing. People left! We started with about twenty people, and then fifteen in the room by the end. But it was funny, and we needed that to happen so we could learn. We spent years playing to between five and forty people, whatever gigs or clubnights we could get.

Are you worried about the future of live music?
I do worry when I hear about places like the Leadmill having to do a crowdfunding campaign, because that’s not even a small venue. But we try and keep optimistic and I just hope that the government sorts out extra funding, d’you know what I mean? This COVID thing can’t last forever. The industry is going to come back because it has to, because it’s what people want.

Which other new bands do you rate?
The Mysterines are really sick. We did our last UK tour with them and they’re just amazing. Like early Kings of Leon. When you’re backstage, you think, ‘Are Kings of Leon playing downstairs?!’ Holly Humberstone is also really happening at the moment, AND she’s from Grantham, which is near where I’m from. There isn’t much of a Grantham scene beyond pubs, but she’s really cool.

What does the rest of the summer hold for you?
We’re gonna enjoy having the album out. We’re gonna do some barbecues. We’ll play, write, and keep things happening. We want to make sure we’re on form for when we get back to playing live.

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