Review Fix chats with State of Sea’s James Craft, who discusses the group’s debut EP, “Illusions.”
About State of Sea:
State of Sea is a Danish-American group composed of three music veterans: James Craft, Anna Roemer and Anna Scharling. The trio has combined the ‘Nordic sound’ with traditional American songwriting and draws from electronica and folk to create State of Sea’s unique, ambient sound. Illusions stands out with guitar, piano, vocals, strings, percussion and touches of synthesizer. State of Sea’s name references the most secretive place on earth: the sea. The EP was inspired from group’s fantasies of Edward Snowden’s experience while fleeing to Russia. The musical collaboration has imagined both a musical and creative journey of traveling between borders and into new, sonic landscapes.
Review Fix: How did the band get together?
James Craft: We met through a common friend who James studied with at USC. Lasse knew Anna Roemer in Copenhagen, and because of James’ songwriting background he connected them. We wrote a demo on a lark and enjoyed the song and the process so much that we decided to collaborate further and create an album.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Craft: I started piano at 5 years old and started songwriting at 16. I haven’t looked back since. Roemer: Started playing guitar by the age of 9 – I had to learn chords differently cause my hands were so small;) The Beatles and Oasis took me with the storm and still does alongside so many other stuff. I love everything about it.
Review Fix: What are your influences?
Craft: As songwriting goes, I would say the most basic influences are The Beatles and Bob Dylan. I know it sounds cliche but it’s true! From there, everything from PJ Harvey to Indian classical music. it just doesn’t stop. Roemer – I totally agree: The classical songwriting coming from The Beatles, Neil Young, Dylan has a big impact on me. As to the more ambient sound on the album, we draw from Scandinavian bands like Sigur Ros, Björk, and bands like Slowdive and Talk Talk.
Review Fix: What is your stand-out track on this EP? How was it written?
Craft: I would say the two stand out tracks are Eyes Wide Open and Dawn Over Iceland. Eyes Wide Open lyrics were written by Anna Scharling. If I’m correct, Anna Roemer came up with a really cool riff on her guitar during one of the first rehearsals, and Anna Scharling started singing the melody over it. Then, when we took a break Anna Scharling wrote the rest of the lyrics out. James helped with forming and lyrical sculpting.
I wrote the melody, lyrics, and harmonies on paper for Dawn Over Iceland during the early morning once he landed in Copenhagen. Anna Roemer came up with the guitar part and the vibe and wrote the instrumental outro. Anna Scharling added to the richness of the tune, and gave instrumentation and vocal input, and helped form the song.
Review Fix: What makes your brand of music special?
Craft: It’s a really unique blend of ambient the Scandinavian feel with lyrical based songwriting. The way Anna Roemer plays her guitar and chooses her sound creates an evocative distinction as I and Anna Scharling blend their voices in a unique way.
Review Fix: Why do you think people should enjoy it?
Craft: The album is about reaching into the unknown, and discovering something new while leaving one’s home behind. We think everyone can relate to that in some way. The album essentially is about change which we think is an inescapable topic for us all.
It’s also the expression of three very experienced musicians from different parts of the world creating something unique together. It’s a pure expression of where we were at the time, and an honest blend of three creative lives.
Review Fix: How do you want your music to affect people?
Craft: Hopefully, they will have time to check out of reality for a few minutes and be in the atmosphere, the vibe, the story of the songs. Most of them are very mellow.
Review Fix: What are your goals for 2018?
Craft: To keep writing music! To keep sharing what we’ve done. And to always, above all, love the process.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Craft: To share this album and let people enjoy it as much as possible. We are open to working on something new but aren’t really addressing that right now. All three of us love where we all live. Anna R. and Anna S. love visiting and working in L.A., and I love the feel and inspiration of Copenhagen, so it’s a win-win. Hopefully, we’ll continue to find reasons to visit and work together!
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Craft: The album is inspired by not just our lives, but the life of Edward Snowden; in particular, what it was like for those few days leaving what he knew behind to fly into the unknown. Literally.