Interview: Sea Oleena

(Photo: Arnold Frolics)

Last September, just before the release of her third album Shallow, Charlotte Loseth, the embodiment of the ever-growing and shifting, yet no less ethereal musical project known as Sea Oleena,  agreed to answer a handful of questions for Murmur, ranging from album talk, to plant talk.

It is now February, more than four whole months after Shallow‘s release, but what with constantly being on the go, it’s only now that a show has been planned here in Montreal, with the intention of celebrating the album’s release, in conjunction with Passovah‘s mini-festival to celebrate what has already become seven years of producing shows around the city.

You can catch Sea Oleena this Thursday, along with Seoul, at The Plant; a perfect venue to bring a blanket and snuggle with friends, lovers, and new acquaintances alike (Valentine’s Day is fast approaching…) Go on, immerse yourself in loving, ambient sounds. For more information, visit the event page.

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Murmur: Your finger is bleeding in the album art for Shallow… How did that happen?

Charlotte Loseth: I was in the kitchen cutting cabbage with a dull blade. My hands are full of kitchen scars.

Murmur: With Shallow, you seem to be exploring the type of beauty that can be found in darker themes, lyrics and tones. Was it an intentional or natural inclination throughout the writing process?

CL: My writing process really rarely involves much intention; I find it difficult to write about anything besides what’s happening in and around me. I’ve never had a lot of imagination.

Murmur: And what things were happening to stir the writing process and inspire you?

CL: I was learning a lot about myself while learning a lot about another person.

Murmur: You’ve worked with quite a few talented local musicians for Shallow, including your brother, Luke (Holobody). Would you like to elaborate on the recording process involving them?

CL: The skeletons of the songs were all written and recorded by me, then Luke came in and helped with re-recording vocals, plus producing and polishing everything. I have unbounded love and appreciation for Luke. He’s always played a huge part in Sea Oleena; a lot bigger than a lot of people understand– including myself. Pat Latreille and Pat Cruvellier, to whom I am deeply indebted, came over with their strings and bows and all four of us kind of composed and recorded as we went along. Luke mixed the songs, then we brought them to Martin Horn (Digital Bird Studios); he helped with the final mix before we brought it to Harris Newman (How Sad), who fed it through this beautiful old tape machine, before mastering. Todd Macdonald (Silver Pools) played the extremely important role of recording all the piano; the only instrument Luke and I decided we couldn’t record in my apartment. Todd and I went to a studio and I played an old piano for an hour while he danced around the room setting up more than 10 microphones of various shapes and sizes, then we recorded everything in an afternoon. It was magical.

Murmur: What was your first ever effect pedal and is there a special story behind how you got it?

CL: My first ever pedal was the Hall of Fame reverb, which at this point I don’t think I could really live without. I bought it used from the guitar player in Timber Timbre. I still haven’t given him back the canvas bag he brought it in, which I’ve been using like every day, so I guess it’s mine now (sorry Simon).

Murmur: What pedals did you subsequently acquire/are eyeballing for the future?

CL: Besides the Hall of Fame, I own a Carbon Copy delay and a Ditto looping pedal, plus I’m borrowing a boss graphic EQ pedal. I’m eyeing up a really beautiful parametric EQ pedal called the Formal Shape EQ, plus I’m in major need of a little mixing board. I’ve been really limiting myself with gear though. I have this little Hello Kitty backpack that I can fit all my pedals in and I want to try and keep it that way, at least for now.

Murmur: You’re in Germany now! Do you have any special little plans brewing for the while you’ll be staying there?

CL: My boyfriend and I have access to a studio while we’re here in this old factory-turned-art-complex called the Spinnerei, so my plan is to treat it as an office and work, work, work. I’ve never really used a space that i don’t live in as a studio before. It’s equal parts exciting and daunting. I have to try and be a real musician now, haha!

Murmur: Name three Montreal artists you’re listening to lately and tell us a few words about them.

CL: – Maica Mia (aka Caro Diaro): Goddess of Gloom.

       – ONA: Music for getting lost with, in a strange city.

       – Paul Trafford: Techno shaman.

Murmur: I remember one of the first times we met, I was holding a young sage plant, and we were both cooing at it for a bit. What’s your favourite local store to procure plants and flowers from?

CL: It depends on where I’m living and what I’m looking for. For cut flowers and cacti in the Mile-End there’s a shop on the south side of Laurier between Jeanne-Mance and Esplanade. Jean-Talon market is good for herbs and plants to pot in the summer. There’s also a shop on mount royal and Jeanne-Mance with a big sign that says “12 ROSES 19.99” where I buy sunflowers, exclusively.

Murmur: What’s your favourite indoor plant?

CL: Pelargonium Citrosum~

Pelargonium Citrosum

* * * * * * * * * *

Many thanks to Sea Oleena for having answered our questions. Don’t forget to catch her set at The Plant this coming Thursday, for Passovah’s 7th Anniversary. More info on the festival, door time, and tickets, here.

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