A visceral response

Montreal’s Seoul returns to Kingston with ambient tunes

The group recorded the album at their own studio.
The group recorded the album at their own studio.
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Next Friday’s show at the Grad Club will be a homecoming for Seoul.

The Montreal ambient pop aggregate of multi-instrumentalists Julian Flavin, Dexter Garcia and Nigel Ward spoke over Skype about their sound and upcoming gigs.

Flavin and Ward grew up in Kingston before moving to Montreal in 2008. In their formative years, the pair made regular visits to the Grad Club.

“[It] was definitely kind of a magical spot for us, we discovered a lot of music there and had our first exciting live experiences watching people we look up to play there,” Flavin said.

The band is headed to Texas in March to play at famed arts festival SXSW, something they’re excited about.

“I think it’s just cool to feel like you’re participating in the global clusterfuck as it were of all these musicians,” Flavin said. “We’re going to eat pulled pork all day every day.”

The group is influenced by ambient music. In their live shows, there’s an attempt to elicit a visceral response.

“We’re just trying to hit good moments that feel right in some kind of higher way that’s not as confined to a genre but … feels like a convergence of a lot of sounds,” he said.

Although the group has only one song released to their name, a crowd gathered for their performance at Pop Montreal this past September.

“We’ve always been playing in bands around the city so I think shows are generally well-attended by fellow musicians,” Flavin said.

“Stay with Us”, the first track off their new album, glimmers to a muted pulse — its dark blues and dry snares are perfect for a calm night with your headphones on and volume turned up. The experience is other-worldly.

The band is currently completely independent, managing themselves as well as recording and engineering their music in their own space. This gave them a degree of freedom when recording their upcoming LP.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll be independent forever.

“We’re building the kind of connections towards having [the record] released with somebody we like,” Flavin said.

He said that art comes as the reaction to a situation where creating a cohesive statement is a large undertaking.

“I feel that one of the nicest things about making a record is it can be such a transcription of a big period in your life,” he said.

“Our record was a slow creative process and as a result incorporated a lot of life moments — it is a diverse record for sure and we hope that it’s a world … that you can live in and experience as this full thing,” Flavin said.

For a band where each member regularly takes up vocal duties, the writing process is a communal one.

“Every idea that everyone comes up with by the finished product will be fully collaborative,” Garcia said, “where its identity changes from one person to sort of like three minds put on it.”

Seoul will be playing the Grad Club Feb. 21 with Sea Oleena and the Kells.

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