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Serene Music for the End Times: A Q&A with Seahawks

“The world is a deeply disturbing place a lot of the time and we all need to escape…”

A normal Christmas Eve in New York City wouldn’t be 10 degrees warmer than Los Angeles, or only 10 degrees cooler than Miami. On a normal Christmas Eve, there’d be a chill — maybe even some snow — and Christmas songs would make the most appropriate soundtrack.

But this is no normal Christmas Eve. As I write this, it’s 72 degrees (that’s 22 for the rest of you). Aficionados of winter and its offerings could justifiably freak out and surrender all hope. We already have to worry about terrorism and despotic politicians again, and now a sweaty Christmas?

No worries, though. Allow me to present the ultimate cure: A brilliant new remix LP from a couple of Brits who traffic in a dreamy, disco-psychedelia that recalls the serenity of crystalline blue tropics and salt-water-splattered sloops. They’ll make you want to embrace life’s challenges, or at least take a break from worrying about them.

Those Brits are Seahawks, a duo made up of legendary Lo Recordings founder Jon Tye and Monsterism toys creator Pete Fowler. The duo — self-described purveyors of “psychedelic yacht rock, deck shoegaze, hazy beach pop vibrations, and marina drone” — recently released Deep Haul, a collection of others’ remixes of Seahawks songs that Tye and Fowler curated.

Tye, also known for the Cherry Garcia and Brain Machine projects, made an appearance in November on Tim Sweeney’s invaluable Beats in Space radio show, which is how I caught wind of Seahawks. He played remixes by the likes of Pye Corner Audio and Cassini Division, both offering compelling takes on the original Seahawks songs from albums such as 2014’s Paradise Freaks and 2012’s Aquadisco.

Beyond what Tye played on BiS, Deep Haul also features the bottom-heavy handiwork of Secret Circuit, the care-free contemplations of Rune Lindbaek, and Seahawks’ own push to render earlier work in the vein of Roxy Music.

A couple weeks ago, Tye and Fowler, both founders of Seahawks’ label Ocean Moon, agreed to do a quick Q&A. Here it is.

[Editor’s Note: The interview has been edited slightly for clarity and style.]

For my readers who don’t know much or anything about Seahawks, could you give me a run-down of how you two got together and created this brilliant project? What’s most memorable about the creation of your project? Were there any friends and/or fellow musicians who were crucial to getting Seahawks going?

Tye and Fowler: We were DJing together at The Big Chill bar and discovered a shared liking for AOR rock, like Steely Dan and The Doobies; deep-synth adventurers past and present, such as Vangelis and OPN; and discoid nuggets from Hamilton Bohannon to Cerrone. Pete also had an interest in raw analog oscillators.

We somehow managed to jam all these sounds together — first as edit-based material and, later, in the studio working with other musicians. In fact, the first recordings we made were as Space Weather Sounds, super abstract synth jams like Illusion Ships.

We also have a love of nautical and cosmic imagery. Again, we jammed the two things together and that gave us a lot of the Seahawks imagery. The name came about when we were DJing at Bestival. We were wearing some kind of sailor gear and a guy walking past shouted, “Seahawks!”

What’s the back-story behind Deep Haul?

Jon Tye. Photo Credit: Tim Sweeney.
Jon Tye, on-half of Seahawks. Photo Credit: Tim Sweeney.

Tye: Our mission was to make an album that had a good flow — another voyage of sonic discovery and that’s why it took a while.

Fowler:  We’ve been blessed with so many great remixes it was hard to choose, but as Jon said it was down to how they flowed. There’s quite a few different kinds of approaches and sounds within these selections and we went through several stages of edits and running orders.

Some of these mixes we hadn’t heard for a while. It was nice to go back to them.

What do you hope people get out of Deep Haul and why? Or, perhaps a better way to put this, what do you hope for any album or release when you start it?

Tye: We hope they get to take a deep, immersive trip. The world is a deeply disturbing place a lot of the time and we all need to escape from time to time. We didn’t sign up for this madness. We try to create a parallel universe you can explore.

Fowler: We wanted to share some of the wonderful remixes people have kindly made for us. As Jon said, it’s absolutely crazy times right now, so any way to temporarily escape and be immersed in a hopefully more beautiful world — then that’s the goal achieved.

Are you going to be doing any touring/DJ sets in the near future?

Tye: Hopefully next year when our new album is released. We’d love to do some deep live shows — preferably — in exotic locations.

Fowler: Playing live has been fun, but takes quite a bit of arranging. But we’d love to be able to play somewhere other than a back room of a pub. Maybe at the foot of a Hawaiian volcano or on the International Space Station.

Overall, what’s the future look like for Seahawks?

Tye: It’s looking peachy. We’re really excited about the new material. There’s a world full of possibilities. It’s our duty and pleasure to explore them.

Fowler: We’re pretty much at the mixing stage on the new LP, and excited about getting it out there. Hopefully, it’ll be a good way to usher in the spring.

You can purchase Deep Haul from any number of fine retail establishments, including Bleep and iTunes, which has a special edition featuring a Mike Simonetti remix.

If you like Seahawks’ artistry — Check out Andras Fox, Future World Orchestra, Enigma founder Michael Cretu, Patrick Cowley, and Black Peaches, who have a new album coming out in 2016.