Local legend Sean Kemp has released his debut single Smile and we’re really stoked and super proud of what he has achieved with this one. Making the most of lockdown and limited to no opportunities to play live Sean knuckled down writing a bunch of new songs and we’re sure this is a pretty good sign of what’s to come. Sean wrote this song with his friends and family Drew Kemp, Kirsten Glover and Taasha Coates and was produced by Matt Williams and Jason Coe(keys) Taste Bud Records(c) 2021. Sean tells Hi Fi Way more about the single and what’s to come.
Congratulations on your new single Smile, what’s the story behind this one?
Thank you! Smile was written during the first SA lockdown- Honestly I really saw that as a unique time to start writing new music because it was inevitable the live music aspect of what musicians naturally do, was off the table for a few months at least. To be honest I’d be focusing so much on making sure the live experience was so polished that I’d really put recording on the back burner. There was something I did with this song that I’d never done before – Collaborate. Highly recommend that all musicians team up with other songwriters you are friends with/admire and write together. For this song I asked a local ARIA award-winning musician if she would help me with structure and telling the story of how it’s great to see others ‘happy’. Also, with the expertise of my brother Drew and Kirsten(who is 50/50 with lyrics) It was a bit of a ‘Frankenstein’. But if you listen to Smile you won’t get that. It’s a complete, easy listening waltzy country song.
Do you enjoy the recording process or is it a bit stressful?
Depends doesn’t it! Recording, I believe is only a smooth process if you’re ready and prepared. Bands that don’t have songs and show up at the studio either (a) own the studio (b) have money to burn (c) are that confident songs will be written. If you watch ‘Some kind of monster’ by Metallica they did that – And it backfired. Not a big fan of it. I think for a successful recording you need to be ready and have someone producing/engineering that isn’t a pain in the ass and will just let you create the sounds you want & how you want those sounds produced.
Did 2020 prove to be a challenging year or did you just knuckle down and write new songs?
Apart from having some shows in America booked in the USA it wasn’t particularly challenging. There was/is a pandemic happening and you can’t focus on your own energy all the time – Best to support and think about others more than anything. Smile is really about that. When the lockdown happened and people went a little mad I remember seeing the essential workers particularly stressed. A little smile can make someone’s day – It takes away the gloomy. Imagine what it’s like living in other countries? We are incredibly fortunate enough to be living on a little island that has strict border control with medi hotels. That is something to be grateful for.
What did you learn about your own resilience?
I can work anywhere – And use technology to get ideas across – During the first lockdown I did a lot of face time via my phone/tablet with Kirsten as she is regional, talking about music and showing her songs & sharing lyrics. During the start of 2020 my brother Drew and I would go walking around familiar areas where we live and just trade ideas about songs, gigs we were going to play and new equipment as we’re gear nerds.
Seeing your Facebook posts you turned to cooking/ baking, what was your best recipe?
Ha! I have always been able to cook but this year going out socially took a back-seat so had more time to research recipes and watch tutorials on line. Was very good! Best recipe? Good question. I do a very good chicken curry and Italian meatballs which is quite yummy. Honestly I cook food that I like to eat not to please anyone else. There are some creatives I know in Perth that are putting together a Fringe show with Musicians V Musicians cook off. That is something I’d like to explore if it’s safe to do so. I know many local musicians that are great cooks. Watch this space!
Are you building towards a new album?
Not at this stage! Keen to release few singles and then maybe release an EP or something. An album would be the ultimate though. Have only ever put out one album with a band that I was drumming in a few years ago. It’s a good feeling!
Do you think your style has changed much compared to when you first started out?
Yeah, not much. Still on the edge of country-folk. Not Americana but Australiana, Rundle Street and Malls Balls music, he he.
Have your musical influences changed much over time?
Wouldn’t say so. I still love artists like Josh Pyke, Henry Wagons, Cat Stevens, Paul Dempsey, Hootie & The Blowfish. Also new artists like Clews, best voices in Australia. That will never change. Adelaide has some awesome songwriters like Emily Davis, Alana Jagt, Silena, Twin Decoy, Ollie English that I really admire their output and live show.
Are you looking forward to getting out and playing more shows over the summer?
If SA Health allows it! It’s a week by week scenario right now. I was supposed to play a festival next month but that was cancelled. Now postponed and now who knows? So, it’s just the way it is right now. I’m OK with that. Will just enjoy some more writing and work towards future music. Been doing heaps of drumming, too. Keen to push that further this year and drum with my band Surviving Sharks and some other artists in Adelaide and Melbourne.
What’s the next challenge for Sean Kemp?
Go and do some gigs in Melbourne & regional Melbourne. Love to go back to Victoria and play. There is a band there I really like called Four Lions. Great music and people. Keen to team up with them for some shows if it’s safe to so! Also I’ll keep pushing for more support shows which is my favourite thing to do I love winning over audiences especially when we start playing the guitar tribal beats! If you’ve not seen or heard that – Come and check it out! Just a little unique on stage antic that is music you have never heard before.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch Sean Kemp at The Wheatsheaf on the 22 January to launch Smile…