|Photo by Ben Buchanan.|
Love, Life and Happy Endings?
Santa Semeli and the Monks are eclectic, impossible to pigeon hole they veer between European avant garde and punk, echoes of Henry Cow, Nick Cave and ‘Cabaret’ sit alongside full on rock! Their lyrics confront and engage with the human condition, the real lived experience that each of us uncomfortably recognizes, dealing with hope, disappointment, love, lust and our own inconsistencies. Full of honesty and warmth their album is like listening to the soundtrack of you life-not your Facebook life your real life-evoking memories that make you smile and wince.
In a pub near Camden Semeli Economou and Haraldur Agustsson agreed to an interview with Tim Forster.
Q: How long have Santa Semeli and the Monks been a musical entity? How did you meet and decide that you wanted to collaborate musically?
Q: How did you settle on Santa Semeli and the Monks as a band name?
H: It came to us one night at the pub after a lot of pondering.
S: It’s a long story but to cut to the chase: Who are the contemporary Saints of today and what do they offer? I think it’s a funny name and it makes everyone work with the right ethics and intentions, i.e to love and serve. Very fitting for music. It makes it better. Plus wouldn’t it be great for religion to serve art as opposed to art serving religion? If you’re going to be an icon, you might as well go all the way and do some good in this world. Don’t fuck with the monks!
Q: Some artists find their work is more complete live-in the interaction of band and audience-does the live setting bring an extra dimension to your work?H: Performing live is always an intense experience, sometimes you can´t even remember having been on the stage when it´s over. I really enjoy it. Recording is completely different, you become very conscious of what you´re doing, and the best way to counteract the rigidity that could bring to one’s performance is simply imagining you´re playing live. Just going for it and seeing what happens often brings out the best results.
Q: Do you aim to hold a mirror up to the world revealing the truth of our lived experiences, or are your songs more autobiographical? They have an authenticity that will resonate with many people, reminding them of past events, relationships.
S: First and foremost I hold a mirror at myself. That is the only way to sanity. In other words, awareness and honesty. At the same time it is my need as an artist to express myself and share my thoughts. I could keep them to myself but I would go insane and I think I have interesting things to say. I put myself forward by voicing my observations and experiences. People might take it personally but only because they’re ‘guilty’. Like me or shoot me…you’ll run out of bullets eventually. I try not to take myself too seriously, after all I’m not so important. Nobody is. At one point or another we all have similar thoughts and/or experiences and that’s the beauty of humanity. I want to highlight that with my work.
Q: Your album reminded me of a film soundtrack! Do you think your music making is informed by your involvements in film and drama?
H: The Beatles, Nirvana and many, many more. One of my favourite bands is Deerhoof, they have a great style which I´ve learned a lot from.
S: My first love was Tchaikovsky since I was in my mother’s womb. Because of him I wanted to be a ballerina and because of him I know that music can make the world a more beautiful place. My father taught me to be fearless and that music should be accessible to everyone to enjoy and not for the elite. He would play Beatles songs and he’d have all these so called ‘intellectuals’ around the piano singing along to ‘Rocky Raccoon’ or whatever. In later years my good friend Tony who used to be a Mod back in the day introduced me to all sorts of music like Nick Drake, Diamanda Galas, Tom Waits, The Rolling Stones, Harry Nilsson, etc. He basically gave me his entire i-Tunes library which was super eclectic and so I studied a lot. My ex husband introduced me to The Velvet Underground, who’s favourite band it is. I really love Lou Reed because he did whatever he felt like doing and I rate him highly as a poet.
Q: Do you think the overall sound and ethos of Santa Semeli and the Monks is the result of your diverse cultural backgrounds, a synthesis of your diversity?
S: It’s all the result of loving what we do. Each day is different but we can only bring to the table who we are.