Boo Seeka is an Australian electropop artist currently touring Australia, with a show in Canberra on the 2nd of March. He has featured on the Triple J Hottest 100, played Coachella, and recently released his sophomore album, Between the Head and the Heart. We sat down with Boo Seeka to discuss his creative process, his musical influences, and the highlights of his career.
Let’s start with our first question, you’ve obviously recently released Between the Head and the Heart. We just want to know what’s the song that you’re most proud of on the album?
There’s a few, but I guess the most iconic one that kind of set up the whole record for me was I Like It Like, purely because I actually had a whole record written prior to the one that I wrote for Between the Head and the Heart and I guess where I was at in my life at that particular time and some stuff kind of happened, pretty spontaneously, that I wasn’t expecting that. Everything that I’d written for the record, it wasn’t speaking to me personally at that time. I scrapped it, and I had this moment where I just was standing in front of a mirror, and it was almost like I had this sensation of myself talking back to me through this mirror. I just started writing down like this conversation that I was having with myself, which turned into I Like It Like, so I guess for me, I got to give that song a highlight for the record, considering everything kind of grew from there.
That’s really interesting. You’ve spoken on having to sort of redo the whole record, essentially having to make a brand new record. What was the hardest song on the record to make?
The hardest song was Happen. I’d written the song and we had a demo, and we liked the demo of it, but it still wasn’t speaking to us. And then, literally, I think probably every other song that was on [Between the Head and the Heart] really didn’t take any longer than a day to record it, but Happen probably took nearly three weeks in itself to find the way that I wanted that song to come out.
For me, it was also another stepping stone of not worrying too much. You know, obviously I want things to be cohesive, but not worrying too much about it all sounding the same. I think for me it’s making the sound around the song that I want to write, to have the justice that it needs. So for me, that’s going into the next record that I’m writing now. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one particular sound across the whole record. You know, I think there’s other ways to artistically make it cohesive as a record but serve each song differently in a way so that it has the justice musically for the lyrical content that I’m writing.
So obviously you’ve written two records and you’re currently writing your third. What’s your main source of inspiration? Does it differ between each album?
Yeah, if you speak to most artists, we’re all sponges. I don’t think there’ll be that many artists out there that don’t take in anything that doesn’t inspire them within a day. But I guess the most key one for me is just my brain will suck in a lot of things going on in my world, and yet I find it very hard to just talk to people in a normal conversation about what I’m feeling. But I find it very easy to get it out through a song. So for me, the inspiration is getting out all those thoughts, whether they’re negative or positive in my head through music.
It’s really interesting to hear your opinions on people’s inspiration for music and everything, and how you don’t sort of have one thing but rather everything that you do in your day to day life. So to talk about other musicians, just briefly, what is your dream music collaboration? Like if you could collaborate with anyone in the world, alive or dead, who would it be?
Oh, that’s a hard one. It’s a very hard one actually. I’m going to be a bit sneaky here and pick two. Alive? I’d say Billie Eilish. I just think she’s absolutely incredible in everything that she does. And you know, she’s just doing her, and I think that’s a very inspiring thing.
Someone that’s passed? I’d say George Harrison. What an iconic songwriter. I came from a singer-songwriter background before I started writing electronic music and I still do to this day. Most songs written by me are on an acoustic guitar. At one point in my career, I reckon I’ll do an acoustic tour, with all the songs basically stripped down–bare minimum, to an acoustic guitar– because I really do think that not all songs, but a majority of great songs, can all be stripped down to literally just a piano and a guitar and a vocal. To me, George Harrison was just so iconic in his writing. That would be pretty, pretty awesome.
Our Art Editor is sitting just outside the frame and nodding. Those were good choices for musicians.
Aw, sweet. Thank you.
You’re on tour around Australia now. But I want to know; what’s your most memorable live performance so far?
Well, there’s been so many. There’ll be a few for different reasons. I was actually in a band prior to Boo Seeka and I felt like I cut my teeth with those guys, and learnt everything that set me up to be able to do Boo Seeka the way that I’m doing it. I owe a lot of credit to those guys, but they got to an age where they didn’t want to do it anymore and it was, honestly, the most devastating time of my life, getting told that they didn’t want to do it anymore. To me, I had nothing else to do but play music.
When Boo Seeka kicked off, and I guess having that first iconic moment of completely selling out your first-ever show. You know, you’ve worked so long to get to a point, and then you finally fill the room. I think that would be one iconic moment for me in my career.
Playing Coachella last year was obviously a massive one. Definitely a bucket list thing I never anticipated in doing. Playing Red Rocks in Denver. Growing up as a kid, watching DVDs of Red Rocks with all the bands and artists that I love with my parents, and then actually standing on that stage and playing to a packed house was a moment I’ll never forget.
And I’m just so thankful for all the stepping stones that I have been able to do, from the festival scene within Australia and playing all those iconic festivals. Playing regional tours and capital cities and packed rooms, and having people have that experience of singing back to me songs that I’ve written for myself but connecting in their own ways with me every night. I’ll never forget that and I’ll never get sick of it.
That’s amazing. I follow these big music festivals and it’s really amazing to see people’s progression from small Australian shows and festivals to these massive American festivals like Coachella and Red Rocks. It’s really awesome to see and really interesting to hear it from someone who’s done it.
If you’re able to, can you tell me about your creative process? I know we talked about where you find your inspiration, but once you’ve got the inspiration, how do you go about making a song or a record?
There’s definitely a lot of different ways, I’m not really the guy to just go “right, today I’m going to write a song”. It works for a lot of people. One of my best friends ever, he’s basically my brother, another very incredible and inspiring person, inspires me every day in writing. But he writes in such a different way, he wakes up at like three-thirty or four in the morning, every morning, and just writes. His kind of thing is writing at those very early hours of the day when his brain is fresh, which is a very inspiring thing. But in saying that, I’ve tried that twice and it’s not for me. I like my sleep.
I think for me, again it’s just sucking in inspiration, walking down the street, to finally putting the jigsaw puzzle together in my head, or that there’s a certain line that will set up the whole rest of a song of what I want to say. That might be me just literally humming out a line for a couple of hours just by myself. I’ve always got a guitar laying around the house and picking it up and strumming a couple of chords, and it really is to me like putting a puzzle together. You find one piece and you find the next piece and you put it together. Sometimes those pieces come really quickly and you put the whole thing together in literally 15 minutes. Sometimes you have to put down a couple of pieces and walk away and come back and look at it again and connect more things. I wouldn’t say there’s one specific way that I write music, but in a whole, that would be how I go about it.
You’ve been making music since 2015, so about eight years. Tell me how your creative process differs from how it was 8, 10 years ago.
The first three songs that I wrote were Kingdom Leader, Deception Bay, and Fool. They were literally tracked, recorded, mixed, and mastered in three days. Three songs in three days. That was coming out of this big turnaround in my life with my previous band. It was writing about taking on this new journey and being the ruler of my own kingdom moving forward. Then meeting Sam [Croft], and everything that he brought to the band. We were in sixth gear straight away, we literally put out a song and then, two weeks later, we left on tour. After that tour, we had the whole year booked out. So for us, writing became part of being on the road. When our manager at the time was like, “right guys, it’s time to do a full length record”, most bands will pull off the road and book time into a studio and won’t tour.
For Sam and I, we just loved being on the road and finding that we’re getting more inspiration being on the road. So for us, we basically set up a little recording kind of vibe that we could take literally around the world. We were recording in hotels and in RVs and in buses and at airports. Some of the sounds that no one will ever pick up, I think there’s only been about two or three that have actually picked up some certain things. There are sounds in that first full length record that were literally Sam going around and recording different street sounds and building them into beats. I think that was a big thing that Sam brought to the project at that time that gave that first full length record a bit of a worldly feel.
Whereas now? Writing a record was very different compared to [Never Too Soon] for Between the Head and the Heart, because we couldn’t tour. I was almost struggling to find what I wanted to write about for the next record because for me, again, I pick up inspiration from being outside. Like I hate a regimented kind of routine every day. I hate doing the same thing twice. I like to do everything different, every day, as much as I possibly can. [Lockdown] was really hard for me. I went digging in deeper, inside my soul and into my head to write Between the Head and the Heart. Very different to the first record.
I guess the world has changed a lot in the eight years since you started making music as Boo Seeka. It’s really interesting how your creative process has changed with the world. You were nominated for a Triple J Unearthed Award and you were also on the Triple J Hottest 100. What do you think the value of platforms like Triple J is for emerging artists in Australia? What was the value of that for you and what do you think it is for other people?
It’s massive, I genuinely think Triple J is one of the greatest platforms for any up and coming band ever. We got Unearthed through Triple J, but still to this day, I’m going on and finding new music. I go back on that platform and just go searching for bands all around Australia. Whoever came up with that concept is a genius because you find bands that aren’t packing out rooms all around Australia, not selling out thousands of tickets but you go and find them and you go “holy crap, like, I love this music” and you hope that you see those bands go out and tour. But there’s bands that I follow on there that I’ve never seen play a show but I love listening to their music. You know, I think it’s just a great platform to go and find new music and things that you’re into and see where music is going. It’s an incredible platform.
A final question. Do you have any advice for people looking to get into music here in Australia, like getting into the music scene?
I guess it’s a little bit cliche – it’s very cliche. I just genuinely think it’s where every musician needs to start; just do it because you love it. Like genuinely just do it, doesn’t matter whether you’re in your bedroom or not. There’s some artists who don’t even want to tour, they don’t want to play in front of crowds, and they do it because they genuinely love playing music and writing songs. But if you’re getting into this game to be famous and play in front of a packed room, then you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons.
Don’t get down on playing to one or two people. You should be going into any gig, whether it’s one person or 10,000 people, playing 100% exactly the same as what you would do in a big crowd. I’ve always had that philosophy since I played in my old band. We literally played to two people that were sitting in front of us and the bar staff, and those two people sitting in front of us owned a very well known guitar company that I’m still endorsed by and set us up for life with guitars. It showed me that you just never know who’s sitting in the room. So always get out there and do your best.
That’s great advice. Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview you.
Boo Seeka will be playing in Kambri at ANU on March 2nd with support from Apricot Ink as part of his Regional Tour around Australia.
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