If love that smooth, jazzy, funky, fresh, soulful, uplifting and possibly even addictive music, then let me introduce you to the sounds of New Orleans band Water Seed. After hearing their mixtape "Retro Electro" (which is absolutely amazing) I instantly became a fan.
I caught up with the leading man and multi-instrumentalists Lou Hill.
Miss R: There are 5 of you in total. Yourself, J Sharp, Shaleyah, Cinese, & I.M.A.
How did you all meet? When was 'Water Seed' created?
I met J Sharp while playing at the New Orleans Six Flags Theme park Jazzland. Cinese came on board while we were displaced in Atlanta. She'd just moved to town and wanted to do something new. We met via a craigslist ad entitled something like "Flutist new to town interested in joining a soul band". I.M.A. came on board via a mutual friend. I was producing a singer in Atlanta and one night she asked if I had a problem with having someone else come over and colab. In walks I.M.A. with a Yamaha keyboard and a guitar. Shaleyah was referred to us by an extended friend of the band. We were in the process of looking for a new singer. We got hold of one of her performance videos and we asked her to come one board.
Miss R: How did you come up with the name 'Water Seed'?
As crazy as it sounds it came to me in a dream. Water represents Knowledge and Seed represents Growth.
Miss R: You have such an energetic sound...I felt uplifted after hearing "Show, work and Prove" What inspires your music?
I actually wrote Show Work and Prove a few months after Hurricane Katrina. I was staying with a friend in Atlanta and was asked to write songs for a girl group a la Destiny's Child. I went out and bought a bunch of current music (I'm about 15 years behind the curve of what's currently hot) and about 3 days later Show, Work and Prove was born. The concept for Show, Work and Prove was to create a dance tune for a girl group with a Michael Jackson/Usher vibe.
"Show,Work and Prove"
Miss R: What music did you all listen to growing up? Has Jazz been the main influence?
I grew up listening to just about everything. I spent most of childhood in downtown New Orleans just outside of the Treme area. Music was everywhere. Brass Bands, Mardi Gras Indians, Funk bands, Rap Battles you name it and I was exposed to it at an early age. Later in middle school and high school I started to develop my own musical identity which actually started with pop and rock. By that time I'd identified that I wanted to be a musician, preferably a drummer in a band, so I started listening to old rock artists. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and then later Living Color, Rush and Van Halen. I was still listening to and partying with friends while listening to urban music but I was studying drumming that I felt at the time was more accessible to a young drummer.
After high school I was awarded a talent scholarship to Xavier University of Louisiana. Upon entering the music program at XU I was basically thrown to the wolves of jazz. I remember walking into my first band class and feeling smaller than an ant. Everyone in the class was amazing. After getting my butt whipped day after day I had to stop listening to all other forms of music to get a grasp of the language of jazz. It took about a year for me to really start to understand jazz. After that year it didn't mean that I could play it, it just meant that I could start learning to play it. Once I figured it out I started to develop a massive appreciation for the music I grew up with. Stevie Wonder and James Brown were no longer artists that were just played during family reunions they were as complexed as the best Bach Concerto. The rest is history as they say.
Miss R: You have a show coming up in Seattle with Black Stax this month.
What can people expect from the show?
Ok, that's a hard question. My advice to the fans in Seattle is to expect the unexpected. We perform for each and every venue like it's an arena that seats 50,000. What ever you paid to get in, be prepare to get every cent worth.
Miss R: What do you like the most about performing?
I think the band has really began to come into it's own. Being back home in New Orleans, has allowed us to really play a lot of shows and really put on the shows we would like to perform.
It's a great place to be original and people there actually get it.
I thoroughly enjoy getting on the stage being fully aware of what surprises we have in store and watching the audience respond to us pulling musical rabbits out of our hats. It's like the old saying from the TV show The A Team. I just sit back and think "I Love it when a plan comes together".
Miss R: Are there any other artists you would like to collaborate with?
I would love to work with Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Maurice White, Stanley Clarke, Corrine Bailey Rae, Lianne La Havas, Lenny Kravitz, Gary Clark Jr. and the list goes on.
Miss R: Do you have a process when writing songs? Do you come up with the lyrics first or the music?
My personal process is all over the place. Sometimes I get the music first and sometimes I get the lyrics first. Sometimes I just feel the need to write and I sit at the piano and start playing. It's important to me to let my muse do as it will. I do believe that sometimes you have to produce a good tune even when you aren't inspired. I think the greats are really good at understanding how to make a hit even if their muse is on vacation. In the past when I have been put into those situations I have had to learn to produce what was required of me without inspiration.
Miss R: I'm in love with 'Retro Electro' especially 'Night And Day'
& 'We've Got To Do This' Do you have a favourite track?
Wow Retro Electro was very special for us. It was the first album we've recorded at home after moving back to New Orleans. We have lots of New Orleans musicians on this one. It was a great experience and opportunity to record some of the cover tunes we perform at our live shows. It was really great that we had the chance to actually release it for free.
I can't say that I have any favourite tracks, but I will say that the 1st track that stood out to me was Sade's "Couldn't Love You More". When we put that one together I thought this project may turn out to be cool after all.
Miss R: Would you guys like to perform in the UK in the future?
We would love to make it over to the UK. It's one of our dream location. People ask us that question all the time. The truth is we were only offered an overseas trip once to Russia, which we did for 3 months. I guess it's a compliment when people ask why haven't we accepted an offer for and overseas gig yet. I put that question into the same category as when people ask why haven't you signed to a label yet? Truth is no has ever offered.
Miss R: What's next for 'Water Seed'? Are you working on a new album?
We have been working on the new album for about 8 months now. Compared to Wonder Love 1 and 2 and Retro Electro which only took about 4 months to complete, we are really taking our time with this one. We have put a lot of work into it and we want it to be something really special. I spend some portion of everyday working on it, so I have no idea when it will be ready. I will say that it will be well worth the wait.
"Build Me Up" feat. Jon Bibbs
Miss R: Do either of you have any other passions outside music?
I think we all have hobbies outside of music. I can't for sure say I know what we do away from music. Most of us workout on a regular basis and I believe at least of us enjoys comics. I'm not saying who.
Miss R: What advice do you have for upcoming groups/artist?
Work hard. Be creative. Practice everything. Make sure that you are prepared for all and any opportunity that crosses your door. Study, Study, Study. The industry as much as possible. Network and at all times keep an open mind without sacrificing your integrity.