SXSW Entry #8 - Hello Seahorse!: LA ENTREVISTA

Disclaimer: I was able to speak with all the members of Hello Seahorse! individually in some capacity after their day show, but the interview consists of just me and lead singer Lo Blondo. Mainly because the interview was conducted outside where there was a lot of noise, and I have a digital voice recorder that could pick up the sound of a moth farting. Thanks to Hello Seahorse! and their management for making this all so easy, and if they’re reading this, I hope you enjoyed the tacos. So, yeah…enjoy!

Andrew: Lazy question, but it’s an easy ice-breaker, what are you listening to right now?
Lo Blondo: Um, I’m actually listening to the Copeland’s newest album. I also like opera a lot, because I take opera singing classes. I try to catch up with what the band’s I like from anywhere in the world are doing, and if not I also like listening to the old stuff that I like, for example, Mew’s first album. The other band members, Oro de Neta and Bon, really like hip-hop, but I think we all really like the same things.

Andrew: (Tell me about the band’s formation and your influences.)
Lo Blondo: Actually, the band started not because we knew each other. I was singing with a choir and just got really tired of it. Then one day, on MySpace, I saw an ad for a band that needed a female vocalist, so I didn’t know who those people were, and it turned out to be Oro de Neta. I don’t know why I did it, haha, cause it’s kind of dangerous meeting someone from the internet, but it’s funny because when we met, we quickly saw that we had common tastes in music, and I think everything helps us in our creation, everything is an influence, and it helps that we all listen to that same things.

Andrew: Saying that the band started kinda whole and then you came on board, when you listen to …And the Jellyfish Parade, it sounds almost twee, and the songs are not as diverse. As time has gone on, the records have incorporated more styles and sounds, and “bigger” sounding, how do y’all decide what direction the band is going to take with each record? Is it a group effort or does one person generally take the initiative and you all work with it?
Lo Blondo: When we compose songs, we actually do it together, but that started only two years ago, because when the band first started four years ago Oro de Neta already had all these songs, so the rest of us had to get into the songs that he had already. It was difficult, but that’s the reason for the sound. We didn’t think the band would go anywhere, I mean, it was just a project, then as time went on and we really started to feel that the band had something, we started to compose all together.

Andrew: “Won’t Say Anything” seemed to come out of nowhere. When you finished that song, and made the video for it, did you think that this song would make it out of Mexico and have a following in other countries?
Lo Blondo: Maybe we had kind of an idea, because it was in English. That’s what made us think that maybe it could get out of Mexico. But we really didn’t move it because Hoy a Las Ocho didn’t come out physically in Mexico, we just gave it away online for free. Then came Magic Marker, through MySpace, who told us that they liked our music and wanted to release it in the States, so we agreed and I don’t know, maybe they saw something that we didn’t see.

Andrew: Going back to “Won’t Say Anything” being in English, there are a lot of people uncomfortable with Mexican bands singing in English, what do you have to say when people make a fuss at you about that?
Lo Blondo: I have two things to say: First thing is that, this isn’t new. For example, I like Phoenix, which is a French pop/rock band, who sings in English, and no one has a problem with it. I think that when people in Mexico listen to a song that is in English, they think that “oh, they want to copy American bands,” and I don’t think we want to just copy. Second, I was born in the States, I had American culture in my house, and I sometimes like to write in English, that’s my personal story. But I know a lot of other bands from Mexico who write in English, who do it because it’s a language that fits into music; Spanish is very difficult to write songs in.

Andrew: Things have changed dramatically for the band in the past year. Do you see yourselves as kind of ambassadors for Mexican indie rock music?
Lo Blondo: Um, maybe not exactly. I mean, I don’t think we’re ambassadors of anything, I think we just got lucky, and struck at the right moment.
Andrew: So you don’t see yourself as one day being on the level of a Café Tacuba or Julieta Venegas who have relative success in the States, and faces for Latin rock music? Do you not feel comfortable in that role?
Lo Blondo: We really just want to get anywhere we can, and if one day we come to some place where we get 1,000 or 10,000 people to our shows here, it’d be great. The thing is that Café Tacuba has been around for so many years and it takes time. Obviously the internet helps to be spread faster, but I don’t know, I think we just want to keep playing together and that’s the important thing. And if one day we play for 15 people (gestures to the tent), and the next day we play for 1,000, it’s OK, it just feels good to express yourself, haha.