Gear Talks: Seetali

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Gear Talks: Seetali

Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

It's difficult to categorise some creators, their discipline shifting from creation in songwriting to bridging the gap between engineer, producing and sonic architect.

Seetali is, for lack of a better word, a multi-talented creator. While a songwriter in her own right, she’s also an engineer and a ‘staunchly independent’ producer. Her debut album It’s Not You; It’s Me is out this week, the single “Haunted” giving us a taste of the record as a whole. This song is a collaboration between Seetali herself, Christina Keen and Vital Mode, and speaks to her ability to craft catchy melodies while allowing others to shine amongst the arrangement.

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Ahead of the release of It’s Not You; It’s Me, we had the chance to speak to Seetali about her creative process, writing, engineering and workflow.

Seetali, thanks for taking the time! We’ve been loving “Haunted”, how did writing for this one begin?

“Haunted” came about really quickly but started in two parts. My collaborator and friend Kevin Silvester and I were in the studio one day messing around and parts of the chorus and pre chorus were built. Then a few months later we were just in a co-write session and the rest of the song was written quite quickly. 

Is this the ‘normal’ workflow for writing a song? We’d love to get to know how it began.

For me, if a song sounds great acoustically bringing it into the studio is just about elevating that core emotion. Whilst there’s never really a ‘normal’ writing process for me, I’ll mostly write on a guitar or piano. During that writing process production ideas come into my head and then opening up Logic is like painting this landscape I’ve crafted in my head. 

Did you have a vision for collaborators in “Haunted” Christina Keen and Vital Mode early on or did that happen along the way?

So both collaborators have been good friends of mine and I’ve meant to collaborate with them for ages! When “Haunted” was written, I just envisioned both of them in the song. Vital Mode’s ideas for the production were aligned with my ideas and together I’m ecstatic in the instrumental we made. Paired with the phenomenal Christina Keen’s phenomenal vocals, the song became this emotional release I needed for myself and the album. 

How has writing and producing the whole album come together?

It’s Not You; It’s Me highlights the last 3 years for me and its crashes and celebrations. Looking at it now, It is a very vulnerable piece of work and I couldn’t be more proud of it. Writing and producing it became such an outlet for me to process everything from friendship breakups to loss. I tend to turn those awkward voice memos into what becomes the ‘final’ product to hit Spotify. After the writing is complete I ultimately become an architect in a DAW, sculpting out this world where I can just exist amongst all my complex feelings.

How do you think making such a collaborative album affected the overall outcome?

I wanted this album to showcase who I am as a producer and songwriter as well as being a collaborative process. So working with other creatives to elevate my initial ideas/demos made the whole journey so fun, especially when the people I have collaborated with I can call friends. I think having Kevin, not only my co-writer but best friend, offered me support now only from a technical perspective but emotionally as when I came to him with song demos he knew exactly where I was coming from.

Is there a piece of gear that found its way onto every track? 

I think there are 2 pieces of gear I tend to always go to on my tracks. The first is either a  Neumann U87Ai or the copy I have by BeesNeez. It is such a natural microphone that captures a vocalist’s high end really well. Secondly, I run most vocals through UAD’s 1073 preamp emulation. I have always been such a big fan of that classic 1073 rich character and I think it just adds so much body to a vocal. Overall, one day I’d love to own a 1073 preamp running through a LA2A haha!

Thanks again for your time! As a closer have you got any anecdotes to share about the making of It’s Not You, It’s Me?

Making this album is a culmination of inside jokes, funny stories and happy accidents. I think my favourite moments came from being in vocal sessions with all the featured artists. The sarcastic banter over the talk back sometimes just sparked genius ad lib ideas or personal elements amongst the instrumental. For example; in “Love You Blind” the song had to be explicit because Harriet said ‘fuck’ after a vocal take and everyone in the room was like ‘OMG this works so well because it’s that draining feeling in a toxic relationship’. So yeah, now it’s printed there in the end now haha!

Keep up with Seetali here.