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Interview with Seryn of Denton, TX

June 30, 2011 by Steph


A few weeks ago I had a pleasantly surprised to find an amazing band playing at Redwood when just grabbing a drink with a friend. As I saw them assembling their gear, I became more and more curious of the mystery band. A whole stage full of instruments that could belong to 10 bluegrass band players, Seryn finally took the stage. Their dynamics were amazing, building a complete soundcape with every instrument and vocal part intertwining intricately. It’s as if Freelance Whales decided to make a Mumford and Sons record with Greg Laswell as the front man (and it could not have been a better combination). I was so in awe of them live that I was completely fixated and harassed them the next day for a copy of their recent record This Is Where We Are. Although the record isn’t as visceral and tangible as their live show, both are supreme. I decided to ask Nathan and Chelsea of the Denton band a few questions…

Listen to “We Will All Be Changed” by Seryn:

S: So first off, I saw your guys’ set at Redwoods in Los Angeles and your live show is pretty spectacular and dynamic. Was a great introduction to the band. Had you played Los Angeles before?

Nathan: Thanks so much! Glad you made it out. We have never played in LA before, so it was a great first night there.

S: Did you get to do anything exciting while you were in town? Do any sightseeing?

Nathan: We spent a few hours down in Huntington Beach. We don’t really have Pacific Oceans in Texas, so it was a must.

S: You guys have been touring almost non-stop all year, including a highly-praised stint at SXSW in Austin. Is it taxing to be on the road so much or do you love it? And what have been some of the highlights?

Nathan: After SXSW we spent a good month at home. We are in Oregon right now, and won’t be home until 7/5.  Then we turn right around and head to Antiwarpt Festival in FL,  late July and part of August. Full on East Coast run coming in Oct. too.  It doesnt feel like we are gone that much. The road is starting to become a second home.

S: You guys have quite the assortment of instruments between the five of you, including violin, trumpet, cello, banjo, pump organ, accordion, and ukulele. All of you play several instruments on stage, plus your “bird chirps,” “bear roars,” “mouth sounds,” and “earthquake stomps.” When you’re writing the songs, how do all of the parts come together? Do you construct the songs around certain instruments or does each person sort of contribute a bit of what they hear and layer it on?

Nathan: A song starts with guitar, ukulele, or banjo.  Then we just start adding stuff, and taking stuff away, and then adding it back in.  We try a lot more stuff than ends up in a song, which is why you have yet to hear  euphonium, electric organ, bag pipes, marimba, tin whistle, slide guitar, or hammer dulcimer in any of our songs. Vocals come later, and the harmonies are worked out very quickly, our bassist, Aaron, is a genius.

Chelsea: One reason we use a lot of intstruments in our music, is simply because when we got all our gear in one room, we had A LOT of instruments.  In addition to that, we didn’t want to be the kind of band where each person is bound to an instrument, having the freedom to try stuff keeps it interesting.

S: Where did the name Seryn come from?

Nathan: We just kept writing stuff on a dry erase board until something stuck. Seryn is really just a word for the music itself, it doesnt have any of its own meaning.

S: Not a bit about your hometown–Denton, TX. People usually have strong opinions about Texas one way or the other and I’m a big fan (have some friends out in Sherman and Denison). What is the music scene like in Denton? Who are some other bands from the area that we should know?

Chelsea: You gotta know Doug Burr, RTB2, Sarah Jaffe, Sundress, Western Giants, Leoncarlo Canlas, Sam Robertson, Sleepwhale, Florene, Botany, Sunnybrook…

Listen to “Feelin Today” by Botony

S: Now, you guys released your debut This Is Where We Are in January of this year (I’m a big fan, by the way). What are some of the influences for the record (musical and otherwise)? Any particular bands that have had a big impact on your sound?

Nathan: Tough to pin that down in any way, shape, or form whatsoever. We are more influenced by banjos and reverb than by other bands or certain things. Influences get buried deep, and I could tell you what I think it is, but other people probably hear influences that we aren’t even aware we have.

S: What do you have in store for us next? Any upcoming releases we can look forward to?

Nathan: Next up is an “in-betweener.”  Not really an E.P or an L.P , but it will feature a few new tunes, a cover or two, and alternative versions of some songs off the first record. Expect that out before the end of the year, and then its back to the drawing board for a whole new record, pretty exciting.  We have some ideas for new stuff that we wouldn’t have been able to conceive of last time around.

S: Lastly, what is special about Seryn?
Nathan: I’d like to think nothing, just people, doing stuff, like anyone else.  We play music, which in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that special.

Thanks a bunch!

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