Thursday, 27 January 2011
Interview: Sea of Bees
Sea of Bees is the moniker of Julie Baenziger a singer- songwriter from Sacramento who's a lot more interesting than that tag makes her sound. You can call her Julie Ann Bee if you like. Or Jules. She doesn't mind. She's just enjoying her new found freedom having escaped from Nowhereville, USA.
Discovered in a café playing one fingered bass in a band, Baenziger then started recording herself singing in the back room at the behest of the owner. The result is a debut that will make fans of alt country, Cat Power style folk and cute voices with a dark story to tell extremely chuffed.
I caught up with her to talk winning hearts, learning chords and harmonising with hot Christians...
Like a lot of singers, you got into music so you could impress a girl...
I thought she sang so beautifully when we were in church that I wanted to harmonise with her.
And that's why you taught yourself to play various instruments. That must have been challenging?
It was so frustrating, but I felt fulfilled when I managed to play a chord after a week. But yes, it killed me at the time.
Did you ever tell her how you felt?
Never. I sort of wish I had though just so I could have seen her face. It would probably have been too weird for her too even conceive. I don't think she would have let herself go and let a girl win her heart. People rarely reject what they know, even if they deny what they’re really feeling inside.
You grew up in a bit of a backwater. Did you have a strict upbringing?
I grew up in a very reserved and conservative place but my parents were really sweet and understanding. Sometimes I hate where I'm from, but sometimes I'm grateful for it, every experience makes you who you are.
You reckon that you'd never heard many of the people you're being compared to. Is it really true you hadn't listened to Joni Mitchell until you were 20?
And you'd never heard of the Beatles or the Stones?
Yup, crazy stupid, huh?
What music were your parents playing in the house then?
Christian pop - I knew nothing else.
Have you revisited some of the 'classics' since? We heard your girlfriend was trying to get you into The Kinks...
Yes! And Neil Young!
What else were you doing other than listening to music? Were you creative in other ways?
I was, I would stay in my room and write songs, I kept a journal of all my thoughts and I liked to draw too. I thought of myself as an artist, but I kept it just to myself.
Is religious music or religion still a part of your life?
Both were a huge part of my life growing up, but not anymore. At the moment I'm listening to Bright Eyes, Jonsi, Feist and Beach House.
How do you write songs, can you read music or is it more by feel?
It’s more by feel, I hear a melody, then I start to sing what I feel.
What feelings have influenced the songs on your début album 'Songs for The Ravens' ?
Many things really. My mind takes all sorts of things; friends, loved ones, memories, even colours and shapes, and mashes them together.
Tell us a secret...
I wanna make out.