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Seth Frightening

Seth Frightening

Interviewed by
Danielle Street
Friday 20th November, 2015 1:26PM

Intriguing experimental-folk artist Seth Frightening (aka Sean Kelly) is kicking off a six-date tour with I.E. Crazy this weekend to support the vinyl release of his album But We Love Our Brothers And Sisters. Unveiled earlier this year on the Wellington-based label he co-founded, Sonorous Circle, the 13-track album has been described by Frightening by as "a deathly ode to the failings of love, the reality of being nothing and alone, forever dead in space". Ahead of his nationwide jaunt, UnderTheRadar decided to drop him a line to learn a little bit more...

Hi Sean! So you took up the name Seth Frightening some years ago. How does the persona of Seth Frightening differ from that of Sean Kelly?

Seth Frightening isn't really an alter ego. More of a mask. The persona is much more inclusive of everyone I know, everyone I think I know, the future, dead people, insects, other creatures and everything else I can think of.

You recently released But We Love Our Brothers And Sisters under the Seth Frightening name. How do you think this new album is a development from your previous full-length album Don’t You Worry (Heat Death) that came out back in 2012?

I've got better at recording music I think. So a lot of what I was doing wasn't blind experimentation. There was a bit more thought put into the sound design. I was still experimenting a lot but also had a more clear idea of what I wanted.

In terms of writing, in a previous interview with UTR, you mentioned that you try to be as honest as possible in your songs.  Is that still the case? And has anyone ever confronted you about a song that you’ve written (in that they thought it was about them, for example)?

To me honesty in a song means the idea or meaning you want to convey. When you make and perform music you can put yourself on a pedestal and let your ego do the talking. So I like to be honest by explaining something natural to my environments and to the the person I am or the people I understand. Still, there are songs that contain real life goings on... And I've definitely been asked if songs were about certain things but I'd just tell a lie and change the subject...

There is a kind of uneasy quality sewn through your sound, a good example of this is  the song ‘Bully’ with these kind of sinking string sounds and glitchy bits. Is that a feeling you actively try to invoke in your music?

It definitely depends on what the song is about... but also most of my songs, performed live or recorded; are intense and dark... so it's more of a natural evocation.

You have a really interesting voice and it seems to be a key component to the full picture of your sound. When did you realise you liked to sing?

Since I was a wee lad I've always enjoyed singing.

What has been the most stand-out feedback you’ve had about the new album?

Someone told me it made them happy. Which is cool cos sad music makes me happy too.

You recently relocated to Auckland (not for the first time, I believe) what was behind the move?

A friend indeed.

How does the move affect your involvement with Sonorous Circle?

Doesn't affect it at all. We are all very chill... Thomas Lambert is still working the website when he can.. Matt Faisandier has built a recording studio in Melbourne called Magnet...

In your new video for ‘Bury’ you are wrapped in a something akin to a death shroud, and the earlier video for ‘Unborn’ you are in a very womb-like intimate space. Are these intended to be quite literal visual translations? How did these concepts develop?

I like that you see these things.. But this is a question for Claire Duncan who directed them. I was merely an actor playing with my own toys.

You are about to head on tour with I.E. Crazy, what are you looking forward to most?

Claire Duncan is I.E CRAZY... maybe she will make me another music vid for free lol

And do you have any plans for once the tour wraps up?

We're dreaming of touring together in Europe. PLZ SEND HELP!!! in $$$ form lolololol

Seth Frightening and I.E. Crazy are kicking off their six-date tour this Saturday 21st November with a secret show in Wellington. Head over here for full dates and information.