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Seth Frightening

Seth Frightening

Interviewed by
Michael McClelland
Wednesday 14th December, 2011 9:37AM

Sean Kelly, better known under the pseudonym Seth Frightening, has been making eerie folk sounds for the last few years under the Sonorous Circle label from his central Wellington location.  He has just released a follow up to his excellent debut album, The Prince and His Madness,  in the form of a double EP that tracks his development as an artist in a sense of new vs old - covering unreleased material and demos written while in high school. Here’s a recent conversation we shared with Sean on the new EPs and what he has coming up in the future.

What’s the idea behind releasing two EPs at once?

It was never the plan it just worked out that way. I unearthed the high school songs and thought I'd release them alongside a bunch of recent songs that didn't really fit or were unfinished when my hard drive broke.

So how long ago was it when the earlier EP’s material was recorded?

Round about the years 2006 and 2007. So 6th and 7th form. I recorded quite a lot of music then but most of it is teenage dribble, for me, unbearably cheesy.

What format will the music be distributed on?

Just mp3s downloaded off the net for free. There may be some homemade CDs to be sold at shows.

In what way has the music changed over this time?

I feel I could say it has changed a lot but really I think it has changed naturally as I've grown older. The EPs were both recorded without proper microphones. High school stuff on an MP3 player and High stuff on a laptop. So in a "production" sense it's all the same really.

What’s the biggest contrast?

Aside from the sound quality maybe the songs’ overall feeling. And there is also the difference between being a teenager and an adult. Everything begins to get eminently real.

Has anything stayed the same?


Does the artwork reflect the change in any way?


How has the lyrical content evolved?

Teenage problems have grown into mutilated pro-choice musings ('Fladda La Fling') or other real life complications and confrontations and so forth. 'Mouth Hills', which is on the B.Hoo / High EP, has lyrics were not rehearsed but channeled. A lot of the songs on the album coming soon are done this way; incantations rather than written and rehearsed. All the other songs are the latter, especially the high school stuff. I love writing/rehearsing and it's how I'm writing music now. But free-styling's always the best way to do things when I'm unable to convert thoughts into words and I'm bursting with confidence ‘cos I'm all alone in my room, away from judgement. When you wanna surprise yourself, letting go is actually uplifting and inspiring.

Were you performing music much back in high school?

Only to friends at first. My good friend Eammon Logan (Basketball Nightmare, Lightening, Ghost Wave) would occasionally host gigs in his basement, which he named the Pressure Cooker. This was also a jam and hang space. Seth & Merle, my first band in which Eammon played keys was born there. We entered SmokeFree RockQuest and made it to the regionals (still went on to get addicted to smoking though, FUCK), so that was our introduction to performing to strangers. Then we had our first gig at OS9, which was kinda fucked cos we all had to pay 50 bucks (three bands) plus there was a door charge and the bands got the money made from the sale of Foxton fizz. Which nobody bought ‘cos we were teens drinking scrumpy in the alleys. Haha, ‘twas fun though. We played with the bands the Pinkertons and The Hectic Runs (dudes from Mondo Skato).

What was your experience like as a teenager?


Do you still hang out with the same people as when the first EP was recorded?

Yes and no. People have spread out. My best of friends still remain the same even though we do not see each other.

What’s your opinion on the state of music in NZ?

Has it gone quiet or is it just ‘cos I don't have a Facebook?

How has Sonorous Circle changed as a label since it first began?

More bands. A diverse mix which we hope grows more and more. Thomas [lambert, collaborator and SC co-founder] and I at the moment have stable jobs and a steady income but it means less time spent on the label which is a bit of a downer.

What’s the plan for the future, then?

For Sonorous we want to get into publishing. Musically: get overseas! I've been working full time for the past two years so I'm saving a fair bit. So just gotta get some shows booked really. And plane tickets. If I ever make a lot of money I'll go to university.

And on the album front?

Besides these two EPs I have an album set to be released on New Years Eve and it was recorded a couple of years ago when I moved back home after failing to live in Auckland. Like I said before, most of the lyrics are unrehearsed reactions to the noises coming from my guitar. Most is quite sensical but there is an element of derangement, which I found most intriguing. So I tucked them away and have been slowly tweaking them all into an album for the past two years. Thomas has helped me and we used some real microphones. Next year I plan to record another album. These songs are mostly written and will be well-rehearsed. I’m very keen to meticulously record and see if I can retain the honesty and charm I feel exists in lo-fi. I write music for myself firstly so I know it's in the songs but there are elements of production that sucks it out.


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