Sea Girls are a British four piece made up of Henry Camamile (vocals, guitar), Rory Young (lead guitar), Andrew Dawson (bass), and Oli Khan (drums).
Sea Girls are also, pardon the pun, making waves across the international indie rock scene. On the release of their new single “Young Stranger”, we had a chat with the band about their writing and recording process, as well as making the tracks come alive in a live sense!
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Congrats on the release of “Young Strangers”. When and where did writing for this song begin?
Henry: I wrote this song in LA with Kid Harpoon in his home studio. I have these chord shapes I love using for a lot of Sea Girls songs, I picked up an acoustic and we basically jammed from there. He was a properly fun, inspiring guy to be around.
How does a usual writing session for Sea Girls begin?
Henry: If I’m just sitting with a guitar I’ll always start with a chord pattern and put some energy into it. I start shouting into the room, you have to feel free and unrestricted – it’s very much from the gut. If we are in a studio session we’ll start with a drum beat to set the tone. I normally take notes on my phone or record voice notes – my phone never has any storage left. With the new album we’re working on I’ve searched out making the music supercharged and full of fire.
Are songs reasonably complete when you get to the studio?
Henry: Melodies and lyrics are always 90% there, but we play around with the arrangement and parts. If it has been written by me we will look for instrumental breaks, anything to help the track shine. For “Young Strangers” we mostly changed the vibe, but kept the pace. It became more of a live feeling compared to the demo.
How was “Young Strangers” recorded?
Oli: We began by breaking down the demo and replacing the drums first, that’s how we usually do it. Oli Jacobs produced the song and he was able to get a great tight and clean drum sound as a starting block. We then built the track with the bass and guitar parts.
There have been a few tracks on this album where we tracked the bass and drums together but generally we keep it pretty separate. Our usual way of working guitar parts is throw as many different ideas at it as we can – Rory is a pretty good sport with us just shouting ideas at him as he plays! Oli Jacobs has such a creative mind, it was going a mile a minute with different ideas for the track, it was exciting trying to keep up with him and match that energy. As we were working guitar parts he’d have come up with a piano or string part on fly. We tend to record separately these days as we like the ability to try a lot of ideas out, attempting to do it all live definitely anchors you to certain parts a bit more.
Do the finished recordings deviate a lot from your original demos?
Oli: They don’t deviate a huge amount, they’re all still recognizable for sure. There is generally an agreement is that the tone has been set when they’re written and it’s then honing that down and enhancing the original vibe. “Young Strangers” is probably the one that changed the most, the general atmosphere was there but we wanted this taught live feel for it.
How does the live version of the songs compare to the recorded?
Oli: We generally try to keep the spirit of the recordings there whilst adding that 10-20% extra sauce to up the excitement. We keep it just us 4 and use a live track for all the synths/keys and percussion parts (we use a Cymatic uTrack). The songs are usually fairly dense with guitar melodies so we work to pick out the most important parts for Rory to play live. Rory and Henry made the switch to Kempers a couple of years ago so dialing in the right guitar tones is an important part of that. Rory usually takes his Kemper home and works his magic with our sound engineer helping make those final tweaks for the best impact live.
It’s always in our mind ‘How can we make this song a proper experience for the fans?’ If there’s a part or section we can enhance or lengthen then we’ll explore that, there’s a few tracks that we’ve added longer intros to and there’s even tracks we’ve decided to totally strip down. There’s a song called ‘Lonely’ from our second album that we decided to do as just piano and vocals and it went down amazing last tour.
Thanks for your time! As a closer, have you got any funny stories about the making of
Oli: The main thing that has stuck with me from recording “Young Strangers” is Oli Jacobs’ energy, it was so great to work with someone with so many ideas and an open mind regarding the track. You’d go to the toilet and by the time you’d come back the song would have some tubular bells or a new piano part!
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