Tangled Up In Blue Bright: Séamus Scanlan

Every once in and while an album comes along that just fits us. It always seems to come at a time when our life seems to be riding waves and it just sticks like the sand does to the shore. You keep this album on repeat for weeks and come back to it in times of need. Recently, for me, that album has been one by Séamus Scanlan. And as I sit here by the Pacific trying to find the words to describe the said album, I find myself lost in the music, the waves of my mind, and the blue bright sky. We head back to the West Coast to visit the gent who seems to always sing the words that we can’t seem to get out. California here we come.

Now for those of you that aren’t familiar with the musical stylings of Séamus Scanlan, let me give you a brief musical history lesson on the born and raised Philadelphian, now turned Californian. Séamus first started to give us music back in 2019. He recorded his music at, what was, the Lumberyard Recording Studio in New Jersey with musical greats, Ace Enders and Nik Bruzzese. Now he recently dropped his first full-length album “Blue Bright” and let’s just say if you’ve been searching for the words and courage to get out what goes on in your mind, this album gives you just that.

The honesty he gives through his music is not only courageous but is also so comforting as you can feel and hear that it’s not always easy to share such a personal journey. He helps us step out of our comfort zone and manages to make us feel less alone with his words and groovy melodies.

When I first heard “Blue Bright” I was hit with so many, pardon all the beach puns, waves of emotion. It’s lyrically beautiful and with its soft and sometimes acoustic setting throughout its entirety, makes for a peaceful listen.
You feel the comfort in tracks like Bumble, Better When, and Less Alone. You feel a little darker vibe and slight sorrow in songs like Moonlight, Eve, and Maybe Tomorrow. But then you feel an overwhelming amount of love and warmth in Blue Bright, Tacony, and Fine.

Overall Séamus gives us a brilliant and beautifully written self-care and growth masterpiece. I recently asked
Séamus to answer a few questions I sent over regarding the new album, recording it, and touring. Grab your tea and let’s get to waltzing!

  • First off, congrats on the new album, it’s brilliant. So tell us how it feels to have your first full length out?

Thank you! Great and weird. It was such a long process, and not even just speaking to the writing and recording, so it’s a little strange to have sort of arrived at the target I set a while ago. But it’s also so great because certain songs don’t feel complete until you’ve released them, like in the proper sense of that word release, let them go. All of these songs feel better now that they’re not just sitting with me anymore. I feel a gradual lightening happening, and new ideas for what’s next, so I’m just feeling good about this moment in time.

  • So we know you’ve recorded tracks at, what used to be The Lumberyard, did the whole album end up getting recorded there? And you had Ace & Nik play some instrumental parts on it as well correct?

Yes, all 10 tracks were done in Hammonton, NJ. Since it was self-funded, I basically would save up for 2 tracks at a time and book 2 days inside the next visit I had planned home to see family. I don’t know the vibe and journey of booking time to record an album in one go but I do feel like doing it sporadically had some advantages. For one, as 2 songs became 4 became 6, I started to see the sequence of the album, which led to me getting fresh ideas for the newer songs because of their spot preceding or following certain tracks, I knew the feel I’d like to go for. I get very much inside myself and up against the glass when I’m going and it’s hard to pull back and get perspective. So, having the added time in between songs was good for that.

Nik played drums on Bumble, Closer, Better When, Eve and Tacony. He also made fun of me a lot, which was annoying and so so good. I can be very self-serious, especially with some of these songs being so personal. Having that grade school homie taking the piss vibe was really good.

Ace did literally everything else: bass, some harmonies, writing melodies where I was stuck, and probably a lot of other stuff I can’t remember or didn’t see. Most importantly perhaps, he had a good sensor on when to nudge us forward and when to go hold up, you’re wobbly, let’s talk about it. There were a few moments when my confidence just disappeared and I spiraled a little bit. Having some space to be able to coach myself back up was really important. Midway through Blue Bright, I was stuck on this “what the heck are you even doing dude?” ride for a couple hours. You can’t sing when that’s the loudest voice in your head. Looking back, I’m really appreciative of Ace’s handling of my internal struggles. He’s a good dude.

  • Now, with all of your music, I’ve always felt like you seem to be able to express the words we can’t ever quite seem to get out. Was there a track in particular that was bit harder to write/record due to how personal it was to you?

That’s really cool to hear, thank you. Yea, Moonlight is the one. I had those lyrics down for a long time. I know there’s a border between buzzing about depression as a topic and being honest about your struggles. It’s hard sometimes to talk about it, and I also feel I’d 100% rather talk about it than not. Not talking about it is giving it more power than I care to. At this point, I’ve had a name for my low place for over half of my life. That’s a long ass time. I guess I’m quite experienced in catching it when it’s here and trying to not run the routes that I know will only wear me out and bring me further down. I’m not perfect at that, of course. But one of the things I’m sure of is that writing to that feeling is a good thing. Only a small, small portion of what comes out might stand on its own and stand out as being a song but most of my lyrics started from writing for myself and not intentionally writing a song. Thinking about the younger me’s who didn’t know what they were feeling, or how to handle their trickier thoughts — I think one of the kindest things I can do for those me’s is try to put words to what he felt and experienced as a means of expressing what he couldn’t. As I’ve grown older, the realization of who you stand up for in those struggles grows and grows. It’s the you here and now, it’s the past you who you get the chance to honor and have their back in a way they missed before, it’s the friends who have their hard times, it’s the people who had the hardest times, it’s even people you will never, ever meet who struggle in the dark. Maybe that doesn’t make sense but if it resonates with you at all, it’s an immensely powerful way to feel supported when you are feeling really alone in the world. And so where Moonlight speaks to those isolating thoughts, it feeds into the last track Less Alone, which is the biggest hug of a song I’ve ever written, and that just feels good.

  • The new album is called “Blue Bright”, can you give us a little background on why you chose this title?

The wand chooses the wizard (I’m so sorry haha). I had this little poem/phrase in a notebook that ended up being the lyric I ran over and over at the end of the track and I had a rhythm to how I’d sing it, well before I had music or a song structure. It felt like a thesis statement. I could pick a thesis for all 10 songs in one or two lines of lyrics, and the Blue Bright lines in particular felt like I could draw a line from every other song to that song and they nestled well. So, it became the title track. I like letting meaning show itself rather than crafting something that means something. And somewhere along the way, Blue Bright felt like my version of Happy Sad. I don’t know the official origin of that phrase but I know it from bands like The Cure and a particularly awesome film called Sing Street. Blue = sad, Bright = happy. Again, it was a feeling of oh, this is right more than any real logical reckoning.

  • With the album being out now, do you have any plans for some shows in the near future? Maybe opening for TEN?

Immediately speaking, I’m planning a record release show to play the album full through in August in San Diego. I’d like to play a show in Philly this year, too. I don’t have a massive network to say with certainty I could do that, so if any Philly/NJ bands are reading this and want to do a show together around Christmas, hit me up! Bet we’ll have at least my family come through.

Beyond that, touring is the dream. I screenshot Ace saying he’d take me on tour and told him that it’s non-refundable. I think it’ll happen. I’m already rehearsing for it haha not a chance I won’t be ready when that text comes through.

I’ve also internet-befriended some really cool bands through Common Ground Collective, like Whitehall and glimmers. and they’re all just so cool that opening for them on their future tours would be amazing. I perform solo so I’m kind looking out like which bands can I bet on adopting me for a few weeks at a time. Despite some of the heavier songs I have, I’m good at having fun and those bands seem to be too.

  • If you were only allowed to listen to one listen one TEN album for the rest of your life, which one would you choose and why?

The Room’s Too Cold. 2003 was just the year for me. That album, and so many others that year, just smacked me on the butt like, we got you. A lot of growing pains backtracked by that album, so it’ll always be my favorite I think.

For his first full-length release, I think Séamus definitely knocked this one out of the park. He’s one incredible songwriter and his raw emotion and honesty in his lyrics will forever be appreciated. The chaos in our minds sometimes is hard to keep quiet, I’m so glad that Séamus is willing to take what we all sometimes have going on inside our heads and then turn it into little beacons of hope through his songs. Please take his record for a spin, give him a follow, share his tunes, and don’t forget that things really are “better when” you listen to Séamus Scanlan.

Article by Kristen Herndandez

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