British-born singer songwriter Orlando Seale and his band/orchestra The Swell unveil ‘Filthy Hope’, a timeless and ambitious piece of music, vigorously interweaved with Orlando’s stunning vocals.
To celebrate the release of their double-a-side single ‘Filthy Hope’ / ‘All of the Dogs’, the band – Orlando Seale (voice/guitar), Andrew Gallop (drums), Sarah Bennington (voice/flute/percussion), Rebecca Hopkin (viola/voice), Patricia Ramirez (viola/voice), Rob Wilks (guitar), Micky Turkington (bass), Dan Bull (cello), Zosia Zagodzinska (cello) – are set to play two single launch shows at East London’s Sebright Arms on March 25th & 26th. Can you tell us 5 things we should know about Orlando Seale and The Swell?
We like scale and big dynamics, from a wall of sound to intimate moments. We hope that’s like a day and night in the city, from the clamour of the rush hour to the lonely small hours, from the roof of a tower block to the tunnels of the underground.
We think advertising is an undeclared war (something which can be problematic when we’re doing our own publicity) so we are stealing all their slogans for our songs!
The songs are always work in progress and we like to keep refreshing the arrangements, embracing the fact that each show, venue, audience is different.
Our new singles, Filthy Hope and All of the Dogs are taken from the live album session we recorded over one evening in front of a group of friends at Assault and Battery studio. Our all-round hero Rob Wilks (who plays guitar with us and drums with Story Books and Smoke Fairies) produced the recordings with James Simpson (Get Inuit). Rob then added clever stuff in the studio.
We’re from all over but we met in London, and many of our songs are inspired by the ‘unreal city’ and its inhabitants, the lost and found on the underground, and the club-card redeemers seeking salvation in supermarkets.
What’s the idea behind ‘Filthy Hope’?
One’s always told how important hope is, but I was interested in where hope becomes delusion or denial. What if one spends one’s life ignoring the painful truth and searching in vain for someone who can never return? Hope’s resilience might become a sort of tyranny, even if a sustaining one.
I’ve always been compelled by the underground. I Love Celine’s description of it as ‘a cannonball filled with quivering flesh’). I try and make sneaky drawings of the people I see riding the trains. There’s something so powerful about the crowds criss-crossing the city. Somewhere in that crowd could be a person you’ve lost or loved, or will love! It reminds me of some of my favourite lines from The Comedy of Errors:
‘I to the world am like a drop of water
That in the ocean seeks another drop,
Who, falling there to find his fellow forth,
Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself.
So I, to find a mother and a brother,
In quest of them, unhappy, lose myself.’
Another influence was Edith Piaf’s song ‘La Foule’ about a couple thrown together and then separated by the crowd on Bastille Day. It’s a heartbreaking song…I love it but almost can’t listen to it!You were living and working as an actor in LA when your ex- girlfriend lent you Elliot Smith’s old guitar…Tell us a bit about your early days and how they differ from now?
I was very fortunate to meet a wonderful woman out there in LA who introduced me to music that would have a huge influence on me. I lived by the sea in Venice Beach but she lived on the other side of the world in Echo Park. So she gave me a stack of great albums to keep me company on the epic drives. She introduced me to bands like The Shins, Iron & Wine, and especially the extraordinary Elliot Smith. She was a friend of his and had a beautiful, old Guild guitar he used. That was the first guitar I started writing on.
Life there was pretty different from my life here. I spent a lot of time outdoors, running in the canyons, or by the sea: whenever I’d wake up and see a blue sky I’d feel like I had to get outside (I guess that comes from growing up under grey English skies!).
I spent a lot of my days learning lines, rushing back and forth to auditions, pretending to be all sorts of different folks, and trying to master the American accent by listening to the amazing ‘This American Life radio show (if you don’t know it find it now: thisamericanlife.org)
Do you miss LA life?
I miss a lot about LA life, most of all some dear friends, but I also miss running in the canyons, swimming in the ocean, people-watching at the incredible farmer’s markets (where I used to work selling fruits and veg). They have the most wonderfully gnarled and jewel-like heirloom tomatoes I have ever seen or tasted.
Who/what has helped you the most get to where you are today?
My father. He was a writer and he worked every single day. His self-discipline was a powerful example…but more than that he was the most generous and supportive and inspiring man, full of warmth, playfulness and intelligence.
I have also been very fortunate to study with some great teachers here and in America. Some of them introduced me to Jungian dreamwork. That’s been an incredible source of inspiration.
Tell us about your next show and why we should be there?
Our next show at The Sebright Arms is inspired by the shadow, the double, the part of oneself that one prefers to keep hidden. It is everything that you try not to present to the world. So we decided that everything should be doubled, light and shadow: we are doing two nights, inviting different people to support us each night: the superb Ajimal on the 25th and the equally impressive HAWK on the 26th.
I am really excited to hear both these brilliant bands live. We also have another special guest who we’ll be announcing closer to the date. The theme of the shadow/double will also be reflected in the lights and the visuals for the evening.
Lately we’ve also been getting really into the Situationists, psychogeography, and spam…So expect disruptions.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
Oh dear the list is endless…David Bowie. David Bowie.
What kind of music are you listening these days?
Father John Misty (Fear Fun, I love you Honeybear), Joy Division, Serge Gainsbourg (Melody Nelson) Kate Bush, John Adams, Gavin Bryars, Roxy Music (For Your Pleasure), Seftel, Grace Jones, Warpaint, Valleyers, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Purcell (Dido & Aeneas ‘When I Am Laid In Earth’), Nadine Shah (Stealing Cars), Monteverdi: Vespers…
By Fabrizio Belluschi ©FAMEMAGAZINE.co.uk