Considering my love for experimental art, I am constantly interested in rising artists who break artistic boundaries and create something new and unlike anything else. Thanks to Contagion Media, I was fortunate enough to come across the experimental guitarist, “The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble.”
Sam Ansel, better known as “the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble” is a beautiful example of an artist trying something different, resulting in a beautiful and eclectic sound. By simply listening to The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble’s sounds, my auditory senses heightened and became more attentive because so much is going on in each track. My personal favorite track by the artist is “Sunflower Spin.”
Describing his sound as a “10+ guitar with drum and vocal experimental ensemble where every guitar plays a different line,” I highly recommend music lovers searching for a new and distinct sound to take a listen. From the first listen, I was eager to learn more information about Sam Ansel and the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble. Luckily, I was able land an interview with the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble in an attempt to share immense local AZ talent with the art community.
Hospital by The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble
When did you first begin creating music?
I got my first guitar, an acoustic, during my freshman year of high school and began teaching myself how to play. Shortly after, I got a left handed electric guitar and restrung it so that I could play it right handed. Things really changed when I got a loop pedal. I started experimenting with harmonies and layers and my experiments grew into a side project which eventually became my main project. I even ended up writing a whole symphony on guitar and transposing the parts for different instruments thinking that a symphony was the inevitable next step in my harmony experimentation.
I realized afterwards that I really just enjoyed guitar more than I enjoyed the symphony instruments and figured why not essentially write a symphony, but with all guitars instead. At this moment, the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble began.
How would you describe your sound in just a few words? When did you discover your sound?
Experimental if anything, but I'm really at a loss for anything more specific. The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble more or less found a ground in terms of sound after I finished my symphony. I decided that I really just liked guitars best, and that I would continue my experimentation with harmony and try to play a sort of symphony but with guitars.
Can you tell us about your new album?
I just released a new album called Wonder Cabin. It picks up and moves further along in the same vein as where my previous albums left off in terms of experimentation with harmony and song structure while still attempting to maintain some popesque-enjoyability.
A big theme of the album is that it's my biggest experimentation with vocals to date. For the longest while I'd felt that vocals are too often the focus of so many songs; seeming to be drastically louder than any other sound in songs, and being placed on top of the actual music overpowering it in every way, making the actual music of songs the least important part. I don't mean to say it should or shouldn't be any way, I just couldn't understand why so few songs were doing it any differently, and so for a long while I tried to leave out vocals and emphasize the music.
A big theme in Wonder Cabin is my return to vocals in my music while trying to not have them overpower the music and vice versa. To have vocals join as part of the music of the song as a whole instead of just being on top of the music. Other than the vocal theme, each song really has it's own separate themes and efforts.
Sunflower Spin by the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble
What is your favorite part about creating music?
I love the activity! It feels challenging, and rewarding, and fulfilling, and meaningful and you end up with these amazing moments where things all come together that makes me feel like nothing else in the world. Those moments are always fleeting and things and perspectives can change very quickly in very polarizing ways, but those moments still really happened and got to be experienced.
Why the name "the sea music guitar ensemble?"
The name slightly misleadingly actually has nothing to do with bodies of water, rather "SEA" are my initials. Since I was writing and playing and recording all the parts, and the music didn't quite fit with any of the other bands that I played in, I begrudgingly admitted to myself that if I was to put my name on anything, it should be this project. Essentially, the name is really Sam Emery Ansel Music. "Guitar Ensemble" is because although I'm still not exactly sure what genre it is, I do know that all the music is made with and based in an ensemble of guitars. So if anything, the name is really my effort to exactly describe what the project is doing more so than being its title. Thus, The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble.
Who/What are some of your biggest inspiration when creating?
My 3 biggest inspirations are:
1. The last note I played. My music is all about harmony and nothing inspires me more than a note for me to create a harmony with.
2. My life. My music moves and flows more like how a day and life move and flow as opposed to a stereotypical song structure with verses and choruses. It begins at one point, like waking up, and builds and decays holding on to some parts and leaving others behind, like events throughout the day, until it eventually reaches some sort of end, like falling asleep.
3. Other music. I love Andrew Bird, Sufjan Stevens, Rilo Kiley, Dear and the Headlights, Giraffes? Giraffes!, Explosions in the Sky, The Appleseed Cast and many more.
What is your dream collaboration?
My dream collaboration would be with a couple of the people that I played with in and out of various bands growing up. I won't name them directly, but they are all really great musicians and people. We've sort of grown apart from each other in one way or another, just on account of how life and things work out. We definitely knew how to grind each others' gears and certainly did so, but we made some amazing music and had some amazing times together. There's nobody else I'd rather play with.
What are common messages that reoccur in your music?
Lyrically, Absurdism is often referenced. Musically, every song comes with the message that there are no real rules to music, that music is organized sound and you can organize it however you like. Ideas of good sounds shift throughout cultures and more so throughout individuals.
How are you unique from other artists?
There is nothing else in the world now, nor ever before, like the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble. There are no bands with 10+ guitarists where every guitar is playing a different line. The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble's music starts at one point and ends somewhere, but promises nothing in between aside for one note flowing into the next with all the notes coming together to create each next section as much as being the preceding section as well. It is first and foremost an experimentation with what music is, over what songwriting is supposed to be, and pushes and pushes to see how far guitars can take it. And lastly, it's all just one person writing, performing, and recording it all.
Green Chairs of the Tea Factory Lobby by the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble
Do you ever get compared to other artists? If so, why?
No, as far as I've searched and heard, there is nothing and nobody else out there that is either trying to do what I'm trying to do with the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble nor anything else that sounds like it. And believe me, I'd love the company.
Do you have any advice to give aspiring artists?
My advice, if any, is that there are no rules. Just keep going and creating. You will get better at the things you keep practicing and trying to improve in, no matter what they are