The Sailor Sequence

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The Sailor Sequence

Kansas City is the place to be. It’s an unexpected destination from an unexpected act, as the electro-pop trio known as The Sailor Sequence began as a project and have now blossomed into one of bright young pop acts on the scene. With one full-length and one EP under their belt, primary songwriter David Noffsinger feels the band finally knows where they want to head sonically and is excited to get the results out there.

In the meantime, we caught up with The Sailor Sequence recently to chat about their plans to write again, how to interpret the directional change on the EP and whether it’s worth the uphill climb in today’s musical climate.

SSv: 5 was so much different than the full-length I’ve heard, so I’m wondering is that a directional change or is it an experimentation of sorts?

David (Noffy) Noffsinger: I feel like I’ve come back around full-circle to the full-length. 5 was a compilation of three guys trying to funnel their creative influences and express what they wanted to create musically and it all kind of mashed together. The full length… all of the songs were originally written by me and then Nathan Johnson kind of came in and make it The Sailor Sequence. I’m a singer/songwriter at heart, so I’m very melodic, very lyrical and he came in and gave them a great twist.

The full-length was recorded in two days and a night. Then we decided we wanted to add a drummer and kick up our live performance a little bit, so Caleb [Berciunus] came in a year later after we’d recorded that full-length and he has a lot to offer melodically even though he’s a percussionist. So when he came in, we wanted to all creatively express ourselves, so that’s what the EP is.

Labels and corporations are putting money into something that's going to bring in money right away and be hot right off the bat, and they don't know what to do with music that is genuine, for lack of a better word.

Labels and corporations are putting money into something that's going to bring in money right away and be hot right off the bat, and they don't know what to do with music that is genuine, for lack of a better word.

But writing as of late has come around full-circle. I think the EP, the 5 EP, was necessary for us creatively just to get some of those things out and find our sound. Then we’re writing now and planning to record a new full-length this next year. It will still have all of the aspects from before, but will sound friendly to a mainstream ear.

SSv: Can you define a couple things you said in there? When you say it comes around full-circle…

Noffy: I don’t want to say the songs were very pop on the full-length, but the songs were very straightforward verse-chorus, they were very easy for the untrained ear to grab onto. They were very memorable. But the 5 EP, there’s a lot going on there and it’s all over the place musically. The full-length and what we’re writing now for our next release will hopefully be more of a mainstream release for us. It comes back to the singer/songwriter idea. It’s something that a mainstream ear can get ahold of yet it’s not completely pop in the fact that we still have our original creative influence on it. Does that make more sense?

SSv: Sounds like you’re settling in a ground between the two?

Noffy: Definitely. You take tracks like “Angels” or “Anchor,” which could be on a television show or it could be on a soundtrack as opposed to something from 5, which is a little more rock and roll, for lack of a better word. The new material comes between those. We have something that people can grab onto and yet it’s got that edge that’s uniquely our own.

SSv: You mention you’re a songwriter first and foremost. But is the laptop a natural starting point for the songs then?

Noffy: No, I start with piano or guitar and I write a verse and chorus. Then I bring that to the other guys and that’s where the programming comes in. I don’t program. [Laughs] I don’t even pretend to know how to program. So that’s why every member is vital for what we’re doing. For the most part, I write the songs, even though we all wrote 5 together. But the new stuff, I’m writing the songs. Then Nathan takes it and builds the programming and twists it and makes it what the Sailor Sequence is. Then Caleb gives overall input melodically and percussively.

The laptop has always been the next step, though. Anything we’ve ever done, we went directly to programming. So step one is basic songwriting. Step two is programming. Step three, we add on guitars and other melodic layers.

SSv: When that’s central to the song, is that hard to translate to a live setting?

Noffy: At this point, no. But we originally had this as a studio project and when we decided to make a band out of it, it was very hard. In Pro-Tools, you can just do and layer whatever you want. We weren’t thinking performance-based. So at first, it was difficult. We didn’t know what equipment we needed. We didn’t know how to go about it. We didn’t know if we didn’t have programming how to come back in, etc.

But since then, we’ve learned ten-fold about equipment and how things work.    We have in-ears with click tracks. We can be more creative in that way to come in and out. So now we’re used to it, so that’s how we write. We find a tempo we want, Nathan starts up the laptop and the metronome and then we just start layering programming as we’re performing. It’s written at this point to be able to perform it easily.

SSv: Are the versions much different?

Noffy: 5 is exactly the same. The full-length, as far as performance, we’ve definitely added a lot, just because we’ve blossomed as a band. When we recorded the full-length, we weren’t doing a lot of performing. Now that we have a full band, things have changed. We now have drums on everything, so that’s different. On the full-length, we only have drums on a couple places. We’ve done a lot more to feature our guitar player. You’d definitely recognize them, but they’ve been pulled out for performance value.

SSv: One of the oft-quoted statements I get from veteran artists and bands is that they’d hate to be starting out right now in today’s musical climate. Obviously, everyone’s experience is different, but I’m wondering if you’d agree with that?

Noffy: Exactly. I agree with that statement 100%. There are so many factors that go into it, so I’ll just hit a few bigger ones. Because the industry is only owned by a few companies, that’s forced people to go independent as bands. It’s forced people to do their own thing and because the Internet is a part of that, you can promote yourself and create a following without a corporation or anyone above you. There’s the beauty because you’re in control of your image and how things go, you have control over who you want to be.

But then there are limitations in how far you can go and your ability to make a career out of it and how many people can hear your music. As far as us and our personal experience, it seems everyone who heard our music as far as labels and personnel really enjoyed it. I think they understood it, but they didn’t know what to do with it, especially in this climate. Labels and corporations are putting money into something that’s going to bring in money right away and be hot right off the bat, and they don’t know what to do with music that is genuine, for lack of a better word. [Laughs]

It’s been extremely hard. Everyone said they enjoy our stuff, but they don’t know what to do with it. It’s fun though because our fans and followers are more passionate than if they just happened to hear one song. I feel like our followers will come and see us play and enjoy the whole set and want to talk afterwards. But it is hard.

SSv: So what makes it worth it for you?

Noffy: Man, it’s playing a show. Going out and getting on-stage and having friends and fans come out and enjoy an evening. It’s being able to perform the instruments and play the songs I’ve written. I’m young, but I’ve spent my whole life working up to this point with thousands of hours of practicing my instrument and trying to write songs and just enjoying that community that is the independent music community. Kansas City has so much good music coming out right now and so many good people in that industry. So just being a part of that community and being able to express what I’ve spent my whole life working on would be my answer.


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