Alex, 23 (who goes by Sebb Masters) and Will, 24 are both upcoming musicians from London. The two combined their eclectic skills during the summer of lockdown last year to create their next single ‘Closer To You’. I had a chat to them about their new release and got to know a little more about them in the process.
1. So Alex, am I right to believe you all recorded your own parts of your new single ‘Closer To You’ separately during May/June of last year? How was that?
Yes, we did! I wrote the song in May, during the first lockdown and we were unable to all get into one room. There’s a line in the song that says ‘what happened to reading and writing, finding the small things exciting?’ and I think this last year has made me rethink how privileged we are to just be able to text people or call them when we want. In the past, it would’ve been letter writing (which I love, by the way). The reference to small things was that I feel as if lockdown has made us really appreciate going back to basics: reading, painting, even just going on a run, and those small things have given us joy, which is a small positive to come out of a very negative situation. That whole line sums up what I wanted to do with this song; have a big sound but also work resourcefully, appreciate how lucky I am to have these instruments and talented friends. Nick actually recorded his sax solo off his iPhone’s voice memos app and sent it via WhatsApp so it’s a cool reminder that even when we’re far apart, we can still make things work. A very special mention has to go to the phenomenal BROOKFIELD who brought this song together. He’s an epic producer, instrumentalist, singer and a great guy as well which obviously helps!
2. What does your creative process look like when writing a song like ‘Closer To You’?
Everyone has a different way of working, some people are relentless and will write 10 songs a week and within those songs will be one or two that they love whereas I’m quite inconsistent and only write if I have an idea in my head.
3. What inspired you to write it?
We were all at home doing absolutely nothing but waiting for the world to re-open. Obviously, Covid-19 has been a terrifying experience and people have suffered terribly. A lot of people I know were struggling in May for various reasons. On a personal level, May was supposed to be an extremely special month for my family but our plans were postponed so I just wanted to write something that gave hope. I wanted to write a song about that feeling you get when it genuinely feels like life can not get any better, that feeling of euphoria and I hope that listeners get that energy when they play the song.
4. How do you feel technology/the internet has impacted the music industry?
Well, without technology, this song wouldn’t be finished and without technology there probably wouldn’t be anywhere new for music to go. The internet gives a voice to unsigned musicians and although I don’t love TikTok, there’s no doubt it’s added another dimension to the industry.
5. When did you first write a song you felt confident enough to release?
From the age of about 12, I wanted to be a singer but it took me quite a while to work out that I prefer writing for other singers so my first song that I wrote for someone else to sing was in 2017, it was called Telescope and I released it in May 2018. That was when I really began to believe that this project was something that I wanted to do. It’s a way to work with people, give others a chance to have their voice heard but I’ve got to say, it’s a really scary thing to do, releasing music. You put your soul on the line for entertainment, which is a strange concept, but hopefully people have related to my songs so far.
6. Which current musicians or producers inspire you the most at the moment?
Bombay Bicycle Club just get it so right, they come across as a lovely group of guys and their music is so cool and different to anyone else. They give off the impression that they’re still just four friends living the dream, led by their unreal singer/producer Jack Steadman, aka Mr Jukes. In recent years, I’ve got very into The 1975, very much under the influence of Will and his borderline obsession with them.
7. Is your song-writing perfectly planned or more spontaneous?
Completely spontaneous, I’ve only ever sat down once to write a song with a group of people under time pressure and that was in August last year with my good friends Tom Katon, Fowler and Eliza Leng, they’re all ridiculously talented and that song should be out soon.
8. Favourite song you’ve written so far?
Probably Closer to you and my next song, which will be called ‘Wake me in the Morning’. It’s currently in the recording process and we just need to get some drums and vocals on there! It’s the sort of song I’ve wanted to write for years but just have never quite got the sound I wanted. Of all of my released music, I’ve got to say that recording the song ‘Building Bridges’ was probably the most enjoyable experience. My friend at university told me that her grandpa has a studio and he kindly let me use it with some singers. Throughout the day, he was unbelievably welcoming and charming and we had a great time getting to know him over some lunch and in the afternoon, he got involved in the recording process, so that experience makes me look back very fondly at the song. It was ludicrously hot that day, one of those weird English summer days where it decides to be about 400 degrees and clear blue skies and then rains for the next 2 months to make up for it.
9. Any advice for people who are aspiring singer- songwriters?
Crikey. I’m not really in a position to give advice but I’m always willing to work with people who might want a second pair of ears.
10. Finally, what’s next for you and where would you be ideally in the next 10 years in regards to your music?
Well, I’ve got a university degree to get through so that’s the immediate focus. In terms of music, I’ve got some plans this year which I’m keeping secret for the time being! In 10 years’, time, I hope I still love writing music as much as I do now, whatever capacity that may be in. I don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing but I think it’s important to always enjoy doing this.
By Lucy Adams