Here’s a video Jules did for The Mahogany Blog while she is currently on tour in London.
Source: The Mahogany Blog
Here’s a video Jules did for The Mahogany Blog while she is currently on tour in London. Source: The Mahogany Blog
Here’s a video Jules did for The Mahogany Blog while she is currently on tour in London.
Source: The Mahogany Blog
We did a cover of John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” as a b-side after we finished up recording on Orangefarben. But, it came out really cool and we decided to put it on the album. But, we had added one new line to the lyrics, so we had to get permission from […]
We did a cover of John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” as a b-side after we finished up recording on Orangefarben. But, it came out really cool and we decided to put it on the album. But, we had added one new line to the lyrics, so we had to get permission from John Denver’s estate. Well they said yes, and in fact the liked it so much that they are releasing it as a limited edition 7″ for record store day. The flip side is “Take Me Home, Country Roads” featuring Priscilla Ahn’s electronica Japanese translations produced by Mike Andrews.
Watch Julie, Amber and Allan perform on the streets of NYC as part of the Take Away Show series hosted by La Blogotheque. See the clips after the break!
Watch Julie, Amber and Allan perform on the streets of NYC as part of the Take Away Show series hosted by La Blogotheque. See the clips after the break!
Via Brooklyn Vegan: http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2012/02/gotye_sold_out.html#more
Via Brooklyn Vegan:
Sidepain Video is the Q Track of the Day Sea Of Bees – Side Pain Sacremento’s Julie Ann Baenziger is, at the tender age of 25, a remarkably accomplished singer-songwriter, who has squeezed just about everything onto her debut album, Songs For The Ravens, filling it with melancholy ambience and lush orchestration. The term ‘folk’ […]
Sacremento’s Julie Ann Baenziger is, at the tender age of 25, a remarkably accomplished singer-songwriter, who has squeezed just about everything onto her debut album, Songs For The Ravens, filling it with melancholy ambience and lush orchestration. The term ‘folk’ is often misused these days – usually wrongly linked to anything with a voice and acoustic guitar or banjo – but Sidepain begins with a rustic, semi-a capella feel before exploding into a charming song of stumbling love.
With a country lilt to the guitars, Jules’ wonderfully evocative voice and naïve lyrics (“Where did all the good men go/drinkin’ all the whiskey I done”), the spirited melody thrives upon its lively, driving rhythm, as spontaneous triumphant mid-song shouts attest. The song is satisfyingly joyful and uplifting in an album whose cuts hover, emotionally, around tentatively happy. It does seem cruel and wrong to rip this from the album though, as it only hints at the multi-instrumental diversity being ploughed into the record’s 11 tracks. From glitch-ridden mood pieces to soaring, churning guitar ensembles, eclecticism is evident without ever disrupting the atmosphere and flow of her debut. Nonetheless, even orphaned from its context, Sidepain is significantly seductive.
Words: Brad Barrett
The Woods is Q track of the day Sea Of Bees – The Woods Julie Baenziger, or Julie Ann Bee as she’s sometimes called is the talent and voice behind Sea Of Bees and an interesting mercurial proposition. Self-described as freak-folk, the Scaramento native mixes woozy vocals with guitar, that in the case of The […]
Sea Of Bees – The Woods
Julie Baenziger, or Julie Ann Bee as she’s sometimes called is the talent and voice behind Sea Of Bees and an interesting mercurial proposition.
Self-described as freak-folk, the Scaramento native mixes woozy vocals with guitar, that in the case of The Woods possesses a sound, on-the-surface not too dissimilar to Joanna Newsom with raised-pitch, skewing vocals adding a naive or slightly child-like quality. On other tracks, like Marmalade from her forthcoming debut record Song For The Ravens, backed with fuzzed guitar, a hint of feedback, more densely layered vocals and drums the musical backing sounds more akin to what you might expect from a heavier/scuzzier Laura Marling say, or a more folk-Breeders – depending on what direction you’re coming at this from musically.
We haven’t heard the full record yet but as it’s already out in the US, former Grandaddy main man, now in Admiral Radley, Jason Lytle has, “I’m not entirely sure why I love this album so much… …That which I cannot put my finger on, is the mysterious, wonderful, and addictive qualities of this album as a whole. Bravo to Jules and her Sea of Bees.” Perhaps he finds her as tricky pin down as we do, either way, it’ll be interesting to hear what other sounds and styles Sea Of Bees has in store. A likely one to watch for next year.
Songs for the Ravens reviewed in The Quietus Sea Of Bees Songs For The Ravens Francine Gorman , February 8th, 2011 09:26 Add your comment » When the word ‘Sacramento’ is mentioned, the musically minded fan is perhaps likely to rustle up inklings of the jazz traditional of the area, or to think to the […]
Sea Of Bees
Songs For The Ravens Francine Gorman , February 8th, 2011 09:26
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When the word ‘Sacramento’ is mentioned, the musically minded fan is perhaps likely to rustle up inklings of the jazz traditional of the area, or to think to the more recent legacies of local bands such as Deftones, !!! and Will Haven. On the other side of Sacramento, there is a very different talent to be found. The sun-soaked Californian city has recently uncovered Julie Ann Baenziger, a local multi-instrumentalist in the process of releasing her first full length album, Songs For The Ravens.
Working under the pseudonym of Sea of Bees, Baenziger has written and orchestrated a warming collection of tales about a young woman’s discovery of the world. The songs are stories of meeting, loving and losing people. Stories of adventures, realisation and friendship – poetic tales of her own experiences and circumstances that she has watched unravel and unfold. The lyrics are poignant and well plotted, but as attractive as they may be, are overshadowed by the most striking element of this record – the delicate, childlike tone of Baenziger’s voice. From the opening wail of ‘Gnomes’ through to the lilting sighs of closing track ‘Blind’, her voice is captivating – fragile and young. Accompanying these sumptuous vocals which are at times reminiscent of recent Joanna Newsom creations, Baenziger has meticulously woven together guitar lines, cellos, marimbas, piano and vocal tracks to create an environment suitable for the tales she has to tell.
Richly textured, multi-layered harmonies are present and engrossing, however the resulting sonic mist at times dampens the warmth and clarity of Baenziger’s voice, the consistently brightest element of this collection. There are a few moments where the pace of the album ebbs due to the use of a relatively regular song construction. However, issues such as these are more or less rites of passage for a debut album, and in this instance are more than balanced by the soft-edged instrumental clouds that are created, then tightly fitted around her vocal melodies to really enhance the sentiment driving the tracks. The influence of fellow folk raconteurs Midlake can be heard throughout ‘Marmalade’, where muttered vocals and slide guitars are scattered over the top of an intensely textured instrumental backdrop. It’s a beautiful track, and one of the album’s more telling examples of this artist’s potential.
A shy and meek character by all accounts, Baenziger’s work as Sea of Bees is perhaps her way of breaking into the adult world, pushing her personal boundaries and exposing herself to life as an artist. Her efforts to ensure that each song is sincerely crafted culminate in an honest and likeable first album. If there’s one criticism to be made it’s that it’s a shame that Baenziger perhaps doesn’t yet possess the confidence to embark on a wider exploration of her impressive vocal range. But these glimpses and the impressive arrangements throughout hint that this debut album is but the first step in what has the potential to become a very interesting musical journey.
Songs for The Ravens reviewed in The Big Takeover The Sea of Bees – Songs For the Ravens (Crossbill) by Jack Rabid I’ve been hearing this sort of lushly lulling female vocalist for a long time, in the angelic lullaby of Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser, Innocence Mission’s Karen Peris, Cranes’s Alison Shaw, Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler, […]
The Sea of Bees – Songs For the Ravens (Crossbill)
by Jack Rabid
I’ve been hearing this sort of lushly lulling female vocalist for a long time, in the angelic lullaby of Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser, Innocence Mission’s Karen Peris, Cranes’s Alison Shaw, Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler, Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan, Slowdive/Mojave 3’s Rachel Goswell, Pale Saints’ Meriel Barham and more recently, Delgados’ (/solo) Emma Pollock. Tired of it I’m not! But if lead SoB (ha ha, couldn’t resist!) Sacramento’s Julie Ann Bee (or as her publishers know her, Julie Baenziger ) is off to a good start with her angelic birdcalls, she also has one more important thing the above folks do: songs for the sirens. Her writing, arrangements, and playing (she does everything other than drums and other small parts from various others) weave a willowy way with her trilling tunes. Her singing may be as soothing as a mother’s to a sick babe, but just as significantly, her music is full, peaceful, and beautifully unfolding to the world in deeper-than-Lilith-Fair tones of acoustic guitar, light bass, pianos, quiet percussion (and on the closing song, a mournful cello), and other twinkling touches. It’s an enthralling aesthetic that seems to scream for attention from the 4AD label, in its golden past or respectable present. And it’s hardly an exercise in navel-gazing, either; Ms. Bee is up for an up-tempo romp like “Sidepain” with just as much gusto as her more melancholic or contemplative odes. The miss is already a deserved NPR favorite; put her in an English band with a major deal, and she’d be on the cover of several Brit mags by now, with London throwing gladiolas at her feet. (Even if she isn’t a classical hetero looker like so many of the above, offering instead a bookish, everywoman, admitted lesbian-next-door innocence.) As it is, ol’ Blighty will get its chance when she takes her Sea of Bees sound there on a three-week tour in early 2011 with Smoke Fairies . Lucky Brits. (Note, if you enjoy this album, Bee’s self-played debut EP Bee Eee Pee comes with this CD as a digital drag-and-drop free download.) (crossbillrecords.com)
Sea of Bees show review in Brooklyn Vegan Sea of Bees played 11 shows in 11 days, 1 at Mercury Lounge w/ AgesAndAges & LAKE by Rachel Kowal, AgesAndAges photos by Tim Griffin Sea of Bees After playing nine consecutive nights in New York (each at a different location), I was impressed that Julie (“Jules”) […]
Sea of Bees played 11 shows in 11 days, 1 at Mercury Lounge w/ AgesAndAges & LAKE
by Rachel Kowal, AgesAndAges photos by Tim Griffin
Sea of Bees
After playing nine consecutive nights in New York (each at a different location), I was impressed that Julie (“Jules”) Baenziger, pictured above, managed to correctly identify the name of the venue – let alone put on an enthusiastic show. No doubt sharing the stage with three friends (including the lovely guitarist/vocalist Amber Padgett) helped to elevate her spirit.
Some artists have a tendency to leave an audience largely lukewarm or indifferent, but with Sea of Bees, it’s hard not to have some kind of a gut reaction. Over the course of the forty-minute set at Mercury Lounge Saturday night (4/30), Baeziger effectively tore down the invisible wall that often stands between the performer and the crowd thanks to her heartfelt delivery and endearing banter.
Though she played with her eyes tightly shut in concentration, she was nothing but smiles in between songs as she offered both lengthy explanations about the events that had inspired her music and the occasional non sequitur. Her shaggy haircut, casual wardrobe, and dimples just added to her childlike charm.
Of course, this kind of unabashed openness begs two types of reactions: deeply identifying with the artist or mocking their unflinching earnestness. But judging by the large number of people who approached Baeziger after the show to introduce themselves, it seems that the yeasayers were definitely the majority.
Baenziger concluded the set with a solo rendition of the love song, “The Woods,” before hopping off stage and taking a spot at the front to mingle with fans and friends alike and to enjoy the rest of the “colorful and beautiful” (her words) evening.
SEA OF BEES WAS MARVELOUS AT SYCAMORE Posted on 25 April 2011 by Eric To get straight to the point, Sea of Bees puts on one of the most captivating, charming shows I’ve ever witnessed. The Cali-based quartet led by the charismatic Julie Ann Bee (otherwise known as Joolz) played Sycamore in Brooklyn this past […]
SEA OF BEES WAS MARVELOUS AT SYCAMORE
Posted on 25 April 2011 by Eric
To get straight to the point, Sea of Bees puts on one of the most captivating, charming shows I’ve ever witnessed. The Cali-based quartet led by the charismatic Julie Ann Bee (otherwise known as Joolz) played Sycamore in Brooklyn this past Saturday night with The Loom, a show that left me gushing, seeping, and oozing with joy and excitement.
Watching Joolz and company light up the stage with their bubbly personalities and limitless talents was something to behold. While I enjoyed nearly everything about the set, it was Joolz’s vocals that had me hooked. Her style is eclectic and unwavering, and her lyrics were honest and easily comprehensible. Of course, there was also her banter in between songs. I’m usually a stickler for excessive chatting, but it was a welcome addition to the show and helped the crowd, myself included, form a special bond with the entire band.
As for the venue, Sycamore is a small space; there were only about 47 people in the packed basement. This flower shop turned music venue at night is a beautiful place to see some music and well worth the trek to Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park neighborhood.
Sea of Bees has plenty more New York shows planned. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band play this many shows in one city in such a short period before.
…an impeccable knack for infusing despair with charm. Her pain is the loveless kind, and she conveys it in a voice equal parts twang and coo, backed by lush country-folk and gossamer bedroom haze. “Skinnybone” sounds like it takes place inside of a music box; “Marmalade” in dense woods on a moonless night. … a seasoned sorrow.
Sea of Bees, ‘Songs for the Ravens’ (Crossbill)
One-woman band turns ache into wonderment
By Chris Martins 07.31.10 4:56 PM
Multi-instrumentalist Julie Baenziger hails from Grandaddy’s stomping grounds, California’s Central Valley, and like her onetime neighbors, she has an impeccable knack for infusing despair with charm. Her pain is the loveless kind, and she conveys it in a voice equal parts twang and coo, backed by lush country-folk and gossamer bedroom haze. “Skinnybone” sounds like it takes place inside of a music box; “Marmalade” in dense woods on a moonless night. A quick dip into glitch seems like a novice move, but all that slide guitar and glockenspiel give Sea of Bees a seasoned sorrow.
The full-length debut, Songs for the Ravens, reveals folk-tinged indie-pop that’s so disarmingly sweet and guileless, so tender in its pleas for emotional connection that it can soften the hardest of hearts, or penetrate the toughest of filters.
So the legend of Sea of Bees — aka Julie Ann Bee, aka Julie Baenziger, aka Jules — goes like this:
One day at the Hangar recording studio in Sacramento, the bass player of a small Central Valley band, an open-hearted coffeehouse worker, was on break from a session. The young woman, 24, who had little musical background before she took up with her friends’ band, picked up a nearby acoustic guitar and was plucking and singing while recording herself on a laptop when John Baccigaluppi — the Hangar’s owner, a producer/engineer and the publisher of sound-nerd bible Tape Op Magazine — walked by.
Baccigaluppi was smitten by the bassist’s pristine voice. Did she have any demos? he asked. No, came the reply, she barely had any songs. Would she be interested in making some? Maybe. He gave her his card. A couple weeks later, Julie Baenziger dropped by the Hangar, and Baccigaluppi miked the studio’s B room, gave her a quick tutorial in Pro Tools and left her to her own devices. By the end of the day, to his astonishment, she had recorded the first five Sea of Bees songs.
“I was expecting guitar and vocals,” Baccigaluppi says, “but she had done everything, recorded a whole bunch of overdubs. I remember listening to it and being struck by the core of the songs. So I said, ‘Let’s just mix this. ‘ ” And Sea of Bees had its first release, The Bee Eee Pee.
The full-length debut, Songs for the Ravens (just out on Davis-based Crossbill Records), reveals folk-tinged indie-pop that’s so disarmingly sweet and guileless, so tender in its pleas for emotional connection that it can soften the hardest of hearts, or penetrate the toughest of filters.
Take Jason Lytle, the former Grandaddy frontman and a longtime friend of Baccigaluppi. “John sent me the record when I was on my way home from tour and not in the mood for anything, especially music. I went from being completely indifferent to really, really, really liking it,” Lytle recalls. “She has a dainty but unique voice, and I love it that she’s a bedroom songwriter, a nerdy, crafty type rather than some annoying waifish socialite.”
Baenziger’s bedroom beginnings are part of a prologue that makes Sea of Bees so compelling — her music seems to have arrived as some sort of immaculate conception. It’s true, she says with an hearty laugh, she’d never heard the Beatles or the Stones until she was in her 20s. It’s true she’s self-taught on every instrument she played on the album (which is almost everything, except drums). It’s true she’s never heard of most of the artists name-checked in relation to her music — the likes of Björk, Joanna Newsom, Nina Persson, Beth Gibbons and Leigh Nash.
“I never really was exposed to music until I was 16, when I fell in love with the girl who was singing in our church,” Baenziger says, remembering a turning point in what she describes as her “quiet suburban” upbringing. “I’d watch her hands and the way her mouth moved, and I’d go back home and try to mimic it.” She privately cultivated her own voice as a means of dealing with “a lot of heartbreak and loneliness” before moving to Sacramento and meeting new, musically inclined friends.
“Wherever her music is coming from, it’s unique. Songs come to her fully formed,” Baccigaluppi says, marveling at how her instincts overshadow her blind spots. “When you make a record, there are times you can’t help but say, ‘This sounds like that,’ or ‘This is moving in such-and-such direction.’ And she’d always say, ‘What?’
“But I quickly found out how good a musician she is — I don’t think anybody would call her a virtuoso, but her timing is amazing and her melodic sense is impeccable.” (Baccigaluppi notes that despite never having played slide guitar, she added the slide part to “Strikefoot” in the final 15 minutes of a recording session.)
Baenziger knows enough now to cite music she admires: the passion of Sunny Day Real Estate, the textures of Sigur Rós, the simple catchiness of Coldplay. “And John started introducing me to all these classic bands that I’d never heard of,” she says. “Even my girlfriend — she asked me ‘Have you ever heard the Kinks?’ And I said no. She looked and me and said, ‘What do you mean?’ ”
Not that any outside influences could have mucked with the powerful confessional quality of “Songs for the Ravens.” Love vs. infatuation, artifice vs. sincerity, need vs. want — Baenziger wrestles with all of them in a setting that ranges from moody ambience and sprightly folk to strummy balladry. “Like a little girl inside/I want to hug you day and night” Baenziger sings on “Skinnybone,” and although she says she’s in love now, she remembers well the ache of longing.”There’s a heaviness in the songs,” she says. “But I think there’s hope, too.”
Songs for the Ravens is bound to be one of this year’s finest records; as soon as you hear it you’re not going to be able to shake it.
Just Like Honey
Sea of Bees Arrives, Fully Formed
by Ned Lannamann
TO FIND a debut album as breathtaking as the one by Sea of Bees is uncommonly rare. Played almost entirely by singer/songwriter Jules Baenziger, Songs for the Ravens moves from florid folk to anguished, smoldering rock, with Baenziger singing alternately like an innocent child or a wise old woman. (At 25, she is technically neither.) The joyous jangle of “Sidepain” sits comfortably alongside the exquisite heart whir of “Skinnybone,” while songs like “Wizbot” gain momentum like a crush building slowly to an undeniable obsession.
“It was innocent and pure,” Baenziger says of how she began playing music. “I didn’t wanna be a rock star at all. My sister invited me to go to church when I was about 17, and there was this girl singing, and she sang so beautifully; she played the acoustic guitar and she sang this song and I was hooked. Not only on the guitar and the music but, like, I was in love with her! I was like, ‘I’m gonna learn the guitar and learn how to sing,’ and ‘I’m gonna show her I can sing one of her songs that she wrote.’ So I went in the shed, just kinda like, that’s one thing I’m gonna live for. I would listen to her song and put my fingers on the strings ’til I would get the right sound and finally—it was only three chords—once I learned the song, I’d start learning how to sing and mimic her vocals, how she compressed them and used her diaphragm in songs.”
Baenziger finally learned the song well enough to play it back to the object of her affection—who, as it turned out, just wasn’t into girls. But Baenziger’s interest in music didn’t stop there. “It was more just like, ‘Fuck, I might as well just go along with this ’til I meet somebody and just move on with my life.’ I just kept pursuing music and just kept learning and writing songs.” Baenziger didn’t fully come out until last year—”You’re thinking, ‘Am I gonna be alone my whole life because of a secret?’” is how she describes the feelings leading up to it—but she’s kept at music for years, working in coffeeshops, living in a punk house, even playing bass in California band Find Me Fighting Them.
A recording session led to the beginning of Sea of Bees. “They recorded at the Hanger [a studio in Sacramento] and I was just kinda hanging out, playing while they were recording,” she says. “John Baccigaluppi, the owner, walked by and he just waved, like, ‘Who are you?’ He was just really generous, you know? I didn’t know who he was. He handed me his card and was like, ‘You know if you ever feel like recording you should give me a call.’”
“And so one night—I lived in this room that was slanted—I went home and I had a bottle of wine and put it on the ground and it just slanted off and rolled down, and I’m like, ‘I gotta email John!’ And I sent him some songs.” Baccigaluppi brought her back to the studio and showed her the basics of recording on the computer, and then left her alone. “[He said], ‘How about you record four little acoustic songs, you know? All you do is hit record and stop for the space bar,’” remembers Baenziger.
Instead, she overdubbed herself, using other instruments in the studio, creating a batch of fully realized recordings in a single day. Those tracks became Sea of Bees’ debut, the five-track Bee Eee Pee, and Baenziger returned to the studio to record Songs for the Ravens over the course of nine months. Now, she’s bringing these intimately heartfelt songs to a live audience.
“When you’re on the stage, it’s like, ‘You know what, I’m just gonna close my eyes and I’m gonna pour my heart out for them,’ says Baenziger. “I want them to see the vulnerability. I think it’s just who I am. I’ve always wanted something rare, you know? It’s like my heart is on my sleeve and I’m like [to the audience], ‘Hey, look at that!’ You know, ‘You can have some of that, you’re cool.’”
http://thenewgay.net/2010/09/sea-of-bees.html TNG Interview: Sea of Bees 14 September 2010, 10:00 am This post was submitted by TNG contributor, Kaysey Crump Sacramento based musician Julie Baenziger is incredibly nice. She also has a beautiful voice and writes haunting songs. I sat down with Baenziger, better known as Sea of Bees, for a smoothie while she was […]
TNG Interview: Sea of Bees
14 September 2010, 10:00 am
This post was submitted by TNG contributor, Kaysey Crump
Sacramento based musician Julie Baenziger is incredibly nice. She also has a beautiful voice and writes haunting songs. I sat down with Baenziger, better known as Sea of Bees, for a smoothie while she was in town for the Portland Folk Festival last month.
Jules was kind enough to tell me about the creation of her latest album “Songs for the Ravens,” her deep love of Jenny Lewis, and how a cute girl at church motivated her to learn how to play the guitar.
The New Gay: Most of the tracks on your new album “Songs for the Ravens” were first or second takes, is that form of “truth telling” essential to showing you as an artist?
Sea of Bees: I didn’t really know anything about that. I would think more like “I’ve done ten takes, or I’ve done one take.” I didn’t really know or care about it until my friend John Baccigaluppi from Tape Op told me that they were the early takes. For example we did “Wizbot” in two takes. I really didn’t mind doing it again but he said that it was perfect and that first tries are usually the best tries because the longer you go on the more tired you get and the song can end up sounding strained. Like you said, it starts to sound unsure or not truthful. I finally started to get what it meant to do just one or two takes, just one vocal instead of layers upon layers.
TNG: Can it be hard for you to hear so-called “flaws” while you’re recording?
SOB: If I do hear flaws my impulse is to do it again but now it’s like “no let’s not.” I don’t hear any flaws on the album. We enjoyed adding different things and experimenting. For me, when I went into this, it wasn’t like “I want to sound like the Beatles.” I knew what I was doing and I really wanted to play my songs and try adding some new things, not be passive, but just trying new things. I don’t think I ever want to know the details of a compressor or what the producer does. I’m an artist. I don’t want to get picky and particular. I like to play.
TNG: Do you think you’ll stick with this form of recording in the future? You don’t plan on producing I assume?
SOB: I understand co-producing because it can be more like giving input to the producer but I don’t think I’ll ever want to produce or engineer. Hopefully I’ll always be able to pay other people to do it but that’s just not my job. I don’t want to conquer those worlds. I want to conquer one thing and that’s to enjoy playing music. Too many things make me lose the purity of playing and writing music. Just sitting in your room writing a song is pretty awesome.
TNG: You played most of the instruments on the album.
SOB: Yes except the drums, we had our friend James Neil on drums. James is like a machine. We worked on this album whenever we had time. I would be working and have a couple days off that I would use to record. It would take me three weeks to write a song and then James would come in and record on it. He usually got it the first two takes as well. Then John would suggest that I play some other instrument like the electric guitar, and I don’t play the electric guitar. I didn’t know the strumming patterns or any of the other shit that you need to do on the electric, but John would give me a slide and say “why don’t you figure out something for this part of the song and then I’ll come back and listen.” I would just sit facing the speakers and play stuff until something was right.
TNG: What was your favorite instrument to play on the album?
SOB: Oh I liked all of them! I loved playing the electric guitars because of all the amps that John had were custom made by his friend. They were all cheap amps so they sound very chainy, and grainy, and sparkly, he also all these great pedals that we could put them through. I loved playing the Rhodes and the pump organ that was from the 1800s, playing that was pretty timeless. There was a marimba which was cool because it was so new to me. I think I’m going to keep playing everything. I don’t want to limit myself.
TNG: Some of your songs, for instance “Sidepain” sound very Americana or rootsy. Who are some of your influences?
SOB: “Sidepain” I wrote after I had been in a camping accident because I had a little too much H&H.
TNG: What’s H&H?
SOB: Cheap ass whiskey.
TNG: Ha, that makes more sense now.
SOB: So after the accident I was hanging out with Jenny Lewis one night after I’d gone to see her show. We were sitting down and talking about life, I must mention I was in love with her too. I remember that I wanted to write her a song.
TNG: So “Sidepain” is about Jenny Lewis?
SOB: Yes well the influence of the melody and the beat came from her sound. I like think that she’s Americana, and I felt like she could sing this song. So it wasn’t necessarily about her but it was inspired by her. I was listening to “The Execution of All Things” album which was depressing but it also made me really happy with the high beats and the sad words. Like when I sing “Is it good for you when I think of you while I cry/ are you winning as I lose oh baby/ you’re the sweetest pain in my side.” Jenny Lewis, I love you! So when we were hanging out she said “Jules let me see your I.D. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” I look like a high lion in my I.D. picture, she liked it though.
TNG: Haha, I’m glad she liked it!
SOB: She looked so cute in her picture too like a 90s punk kid.
TNG: Huh, that’s interesting, So when did you start playing music?
SOB: I started when I was around sixteen. My sister and my cousin invited me to church and I never had any friends. Let me start from the beginning. My mom grew up Catholic and she felt that we needed to go to church because she had been brought up in it. So when I was little my sister, my mom and I would go to the Catholic church. I remember there was a guy named Peter, curly hair, hippie, goatee, smelled like b.o. and he played piano. He sang this one song that always got to me, during all the other songs I was sleeping or punching my sister in the arm because church made me irritable. This song got me and I wanted to learn it and learn music but I never knew how. I stopped going to church after that until I was sixteen and my sister and cousin invited me. They noticed that I was a loaner and said “Hey Jules, we just came to the lord and you should come to our church group.” After saying no a few times I went. I came to the door and there was a girl named Laura who gave me a hug. It was really my first hug, I was sixteen years old and didn’t know how to hug or touch. The hug was so nice and I remember thinking “wow that was so nice, so that’s a friend?” I kept coming back to church for that interaction and shortly after that I saw a girl singing with her brother and thought “that’s really beautiful, she’s really beautiful” and it made me want to play music. She really was beautiful, dark hair, angelic voice. Sometimes during worship when everyone was closing their eyes and then looking around to see who was lifting their hands higher, I would just be standing there watching her. Eventually we became really good friends and she had a cd out so I decided to learn one of the songs on it. I would go out to my parents shed at five in the morning because I had to be at swimming by six, and I would go out there, put on her cd and try to learn this song. I would put my finger on a string until I heard the same note and then I would put my other fingers where I thought they should be. It was three chords E, B, and A. Then I started learning how to sing by mimicking her voice and finally felt like I was getting it. I tried out for the worship team and got denied and I felt humiliated. So what was the question again?
TNG: How long you’ve been playing music.
SOB: Right, right. Since I was fifteen or sixteen years old, nine years total.
TNG: This is all very interesting to me as a former Jesus freak.
SOB: Yeah it was hard. I remember as soon as I started progressing in music they asked me to start leading worship. Almost immediately I felt drained with this “Jules we need this song, we need that song.” I didn’t expect that everyone would always be nice but I started seeing people that weren’t being honest, or like they were only honest inside the building and outside they were something different. At some point I remember liking girls around me and thinking about how beautiful they were while I was leading worship. It was just constant confusion. I remember sitting in the back of the church one time because I didn’t want to be bothered and the pastor started to say “There’s a transvestite that called and told me that they’ve been coming to this church for several years and they wanted to finally come out as a transvestite.” I was curious about what was next, “I told them that they can’t come here anymore.” I felt that kind of sinking feeling and started to cry a bit. People were noticing and commented that it was really getting to me. It felt like “How will I ever be happy getting what I want?” I had all of these friends and this community that I worked so hard to make and they accept me and love me that could just cut me off because of how much I loved what I was not supposed to love. I always thought I was going to die early because I couldn’t possibly be happy and I couldn’t get what I had always wanted since I was two or four years old. When I was twelve I told my parents I was going to go to a mental institution because I knew there was something not accepted or not right about me. All in all I felt like I was never allowed to be happy.
TNG: Until now?
SOB: Until now.
TNG: So you’re newly out?
SOB: Yes it’s been around a year.
TNG: How has the queer community been treating you?
SOB: It’s so lovely. I didn’t know anything. My girlfriend Lisa has really been helping me along. Last week she took me to San Francisco to meet all of her friends and it’s so great to be able to talk about queer things and feel comfortable. I like feeling connected to the community because we share the same struggles. But really everyone has been so lovely. A lot of people said “We knew you were gay several years ago,” and I wanted to know why nobody talked about it back then because it could have helped me out!
TNG: I noticed that you referenced men throughout your album.
SOB: When I wrote the album it was right when I started coming into Sacto and I didn’t know any of the people there or how they felt, and I just couldn’t come out. I was scared. I was making new friends in a new city and it just seemed like too much. When I sang songs I wanted it to be universal like, “ok that’s cool she’s singing about a guy with a beard,” cause that’s cool. Everyone wants a guy with a beard. Everyone wants Iron & Wine. For me I want a nice little indie girl with long hair but I didn’t feel like I could sing “I saw her with long hair…” and have some little girl in suburbia asking her mom why I was singing about a girl. Now I feel like I can really come out on my next album and it will be ok.
TNG: Finally, do you feel that being in love has changed your music or how you interpret your songs?
SOB: I think I’ll always write songs the way that I do, through experiences. This next album, I can feel it, and it won’t be like “Songs for the Ravens.” It’s going to be really smooth and subtle because this year has been so smooth. I imagine really synthy sounds and smooth vocals, nothing harsh. I think it all goes with where I’m at. Last year it was harsh learning how to get through things, learning how to live with people and the drinking didn’t help. I smoked a lot, I still smoke a little. Overall I feel like the “trying to find my place” has gone away and it’s smooth sailing.
TNG: It was fantastic to meet you today, thanks so much for talking with me.
SOB: You too!
Listening to Songs for the Ravens by Sea of Bees makes me feel like I’m part of something special. a truly unexpected and wonderful gem. Sea of Bees nailed it on the first try.
Sea of Bees – Songs for the Ravens
August 31st, 2010 | by cmoore |
Listening to Songs for the Ravens by Sea of Bees makes me feel like I’m part of something special. Maybe it’s that the music sounds quite large and experimental, especially when compared to other indie folk acts. It could be the way the wide array of instruments on this album fit together seamlessly. Perhaps it is the way singer/songwriter Julie Baenziger’s unique voice sits in the center of your brain, and after a while seems to become part of your own inner monologue. Or most likely, it is all these things combined that makes Songs for the Ravens a truly unexpected and wonderful gem
Songs for the Ravens has more than your typical indie folk record. Unlike other female folk singers, Baenziger plays most of the instruments on the album, some of which she had never played before. The overdub-heavy nature of this music gives it a large, deep sound that both satisfying and impressive. Jules (as her friends call her) has a voice that’s unlike anything I have heard before: it’s high (and not in an outrageous Joanna Newsom way), but completely under control; it’s also thin, but full enough to stand out among the many layers of instruments.
One of the highlights of the album is the poppy electronic tune “Willis.” The song features fast-paced and clicky electronic drums (courtesy Wes Steed of Hearts and Horses) reminiscent of The Postal Service. The rest is a wonderfully crafted song that features beautiful vocal harmonies, floating synthesizers, and painful lyrics about feeling hurt and used (“I trust another boy, he held me out to dry/and used me for a good time, and made me lose my mind”). Although the lyrics are sad, the music feels optimistic in a way that makes you hope everything works out for the singer.
And I do hope everything works out for Julie Baenziger; she deserves all the praise she receives. This album displays her intuition when it comes to playing many different instruments, her talent as a vocalist, and her amazing abilities as a songwriter. A lot of artists release a few albums before they find their sound, but it seems like Sea of Bees nailed it on the first try.
Sea of Bees is the best thing I’ve discovered so far this year.
June 30, 2010 at 7:52 pm by Taylor Toothman
Sea of Bees is the best thing I’ve discovered so far this year. Code name of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Julie Bee (Baenziger), Sea of Bees is a one-woman act whose debut LP, Songs For The Ravens, has left me spellbound. No kidding, I was thisclose to a car accident this morning because I was zoning out to the insane lilting harmonies of “Willis.”
It’s hard to believe that Songs For The Ravens is Bee’s first full-length. She displays such technical mastery and her musical arrangements are exquisite — layers upon layers of wooshing piano, glockenspiel, slide, and marimba, with the ebb and flow of drums in the background. Some songs are sad, some are hopeful, some are pissed-but-trying-to-rise-above-it-through-this-beautiful-chorus-you-sucker. There are stompers and siren-songs, dark shadows and twinkling lights, intimate acoustic diary entries and anthemic electricity; it’s this smoothly blended diversity that keeps the album experience fresh and intriguing.
And her voice. Good grief, could anything be more enchanting? Imagine, if you can, Sherri DuPree of Eisley and Camila Grey of Uh Huh Her singing a duet. The control, range, sweeping tenderness and swelling force of those two voices are somehow trapped inside of Julie Bee. Restrained and then let loose at a moment’s notice, Bee seems to intuitively know just what to say and when to not say it, just humming or ahh-ing along with her gorgeous melodies to lull the listener into a calm-induced blackout … and a conversation with their Geico representative because of a mysterious crushed fender.
If you find you can’t get enough of Sea of Bees, check out her five-track Bee Eee Pee EP, which she recorded in one day right after learning how to use ProTools. This chick has got something.
This one’s special, folks, let’s not screw it up.
by kevin on June 17, 2010
Took me about 50 seconds — the length of the woozy, haunting intro to “Marmalade” — to completely fall for Sea of Bees, the nom de tune of Sacramento indie-popper Julie Baenziger. Her debut album “Songs for the Ravens” sounds folky in some places, gauzy and ambient in others and twee as hell in still others, but beautiful throughout, and a potent reminder that emotional virtue is an artist’s most precious commodity. This one’s special, folks, let’s not screw it up.
‘Bee Eee Pee’ was so beloved because of its low production and high emotion factor and those qualities have only been expanded on for Songs for the Ravens. The record projects itself as a hybrid of tunes all tied together via the lazy warmness of Baenziger’s voice.
By FFS writers
There’s something of the Scandinavian about Julie Baenziger and her one-woman band, Sea of Bees, which may come as a surprise to this Californian native but I can assure her that it’s a compliment. Perhaps it’s the ethereal quality to her voice or her penchant for the deep twinkly sound that our European cousins do so well or the fact that her voice on Songs for the Ravens has a distinct twang of a more laidback Nina Persson. Whatever it is, it works.
While this is Baenziger’s debut full-length record it was the recording of her EP ‘Bee Eee Pee’ which turned her into something of a legend when it was revealed that the five-track was recorded a mere 24 hours after Baenziger was shown how to use recording software, ProTools, by producer John Baccigaluppi.
‘Bee Eee Pee’ was so beloved because of its low production and high emotion factor and those qualities have only been expanded on for Songs for the Ravens. The record projects itself as a hybrid of tunes all tied together via the lazy warmness of Baenziger’s voice. “Gnomes” kicks it all off with a wail, backed by a surfy drumbeat while “Skinnybone” drifts along with lilting vocals alongside the echo of an organ and lyrical musings on wanting to ‘hug you day and night’. “Marmalade” has a much darker and deeper beat as does “Sidepain” with its talk of whisky-drinking and broken hearts, which is what keeps this record so interesting and moreish as you witness the tracks tumble between dark and light.
Songs for the Ravens is, I suspect much like it’s author, sweet and complex and the debut album that fans of her EP will be have been waiting for.
Words: Nikki Dodds
Songs For the Ravens is full-on, with an arsenal of glockenspiel, slide, marimba and keys. But you might not even notice all that when you hear her vocal register, which lies somewhere between that of Björk and Leigh Nash … I know, too good to be true, and it is truly gorgeous.
I like sad music, though I haven’t really listened to much of it in the past couple years—mainly because it hasn’t fit my mood … plus a lot of it is boring. Then I was introduced to Julie Baenziger.
Sea of Bees makes me wish I was sad. Her latest LP Songs For the Ravens (out June 1 on Crossbill Records) centers around that haunting voice, but there’s much more to it. The songs are filled with odd arrangements and intricate layers, and Baenziger played most of the instruments herself … wait, this is her debut?!
Well, actually, Sea of Bees released the Bee Eee Pee last year (recorded in one day after getting a quick ProTools lesson from producer and Tape Op publisher John Baccigaluppi). And while many of Baenziger’s performances feature nothing but her and a guitar, Songs For the Ravens is full-on, with an arsenal of glockenspiel, slide, marimba and keys. But you might not even notice all that when you hear her vocal register, which lies somewhere between that of Björk and Leigh Nash … I know, too good to be true, and it is truly gorgeous. And you don’t even have to be sad to enjoy the songs, a contemplative mood on a gray Portland day would serve as a perfect backdrop.
Sea Of Bees, aka California native Julie Baenziger and friends, encapsulate an otherworldly mood in their debut album, an interesting and unguarded blend of occasional dark corners and quirky escapism – the latter of which best depicts what music is about, after all.
The raven is a spiritual symbol in many cultures, often believed to represent the souls of the damned or an equivalent yet mysterious presence, dwelling somewhere between this life and the next. Sea Of Bees, aka California native Julie Baenziger and friends, encapsulate an otherworldly mood in their debut album, an interesting and unguarded blend of occasional dark corners and quirky escapism – the latter of which best depicts what music is about, after all. There are plenty of other artists leading similar outfits at present, and comparisons between Baenziger and certain Scandinavian singer-songwriters are particularly justified from the outset. Opening track ‘Gnomes’ incorporates charming elements of country/folk-pop and cute, melodic harmonies that feel slightly snaffled from Nina Persson’s A Camp, and it’s these elements that neatly establish a collection of songs whose primary goal is to sweep the listener away with their feelings.
Based predominantly on ‘lovey-dovey’ matters of the heart, despite the title’s suggestive, sinister subtext, Songs For The Ravens is perhaps best described as generally quite adorable, sometimes bordering on the well-meaning complexity of infatuation. Dreamy percussion unites with layers of more urgent drums during one highlight, ‘Skinnybone’, but Baenzinger’s sighing vocal maintains a slight spookiness. “Feel the colour of your soul right next to me,” she muses, the feeling of drifting created throughout becoming a lovely, longing sensation in a nostalgic ‘Fyre’, better demonstrating the American influences we might expect. Here Baenziger follows the more rocky terrain of Giant Drag’s Annie Hardy’s best attempts at soul searching, an approach rather famed in indie-pop and so traditional in its inspiration that it lends an identifiable edge to a song.
While ‘It Won’t Be Long’ proffers a more sombre ambience, with dynamic moody guitar and organ pitched alongside somewhat introspective lyrics (“It won’t be long until I lose my mind”), the commanding sunnier disposition returns in further odes to friends or lovers (‘Strikefoot’), effortlessly soaring towards a reckless drunkenness in trying to forget the one that got away (‘Sidepain’). It’s a sentiment we all can identify with, and so another quality in Baenziger’s songwriting that adds to its success. The absolute lack of pretension is complete in final track, ‘Blind’, a simple cello-and-piano piece that ends the album with a relaxed, subdued tone, ensuring that the ravens’ – and any humanoid listeners – every emotional need is covered and highlighting that, while not exactly varied in focus or feel, Sea Of Bees are no one-trick, er, corvid. An engaging introduction to a nice new talent, one can only imagine that the big black birds will tap their beaks on a nearby surface, both in time and in approval.
[Crossbill; June 1, 2010]
Bee Eee Pee, is a scant 17-minute EP that is low on production and high on emotion. But is this the beginning of an act worth following or just another open-mic act who should stay in her local coffee shop? This first impression makes me lean toward the former assessment.
An aesthetic meant to appear raw but in a deliberate way is cliché at this point. It can still be done successfully, but everything from print ads to movie titles to fashion has been done in a manicured-in-earnest style. Check out a gossip blog where you’ll see a celebrity walking down the street in nondescript jeans and a basic black t-shirt. You’ll find out the ensemble costs twice what you pay in rent.
Thanks to the music blogosphere and laptop technology that makes a DIY approach to recording accessible to anyone, we’re up to our cochleae in unpolished music. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but like any ubiquitous trend, sorting through the filler to get to the worthwhile stuff can be problematic. You want to spot the people whose ripped jeans come from years of wear and tear, not from Barneys.
Singer-songwriter Julie Baenziger, under the stage name Sea of Bees, has a lot to prove. Her debut release, Bee Eee Pee, is a scant 17-minute EP that is low on production and high on emotion. But is this the beginning of an act worth following or just another open-mic act who should stay in her local coffee shop? This first impression makes me lean toward the former assessment.
The opening track, “Skinnybone”, begins with a slovenly warm-up of Baenziger repeating “I don’t need you” over some fumbling guitar work. 30 seconds in she recites a brief countdown and her rhythmic acoustic guitar kicks in. Her soft voice echoes as if she’s singing in an abandoned church that we just happened to walk into. A distorted noise reverberates at unexpected moments of the song, and the result is unsettling. It’s a cross between rattling metal and a broken organ. Her refrain of “I don’t need you but I want to” could have been played as an angry ex, but she delivers the line like a haunting ghost. It taps into the same quality that made Marissa Nadler’s Little Hells so successful earlier this year.
“Willis” is a strange highlight of the EP, but it stands out nonetheless. It has a bizarre intro that begins with Baenziger mumbling nonsense, groaning to fill the silence, and then another countdown. What follows is a surprisingly lively and bleak track driven by a lilting keyboard and hand claps. The elements for an upbeat track are there, but it’s grim from start to finish. Even if you can’t make out her lyrics, which is likely with her peculiar enunciation that resembles Tori Amos, you can still understand where her mind and heart are.
Bee Eee Pee is a lo-fi production. It started out as a demo, but ended up being an official release and a precursor to her forthcoming album. That fact aside, you would still hear a charming level of ambition in this release. It’s definitely not as complete as it could be, and the weird introduction to “Willis” suggests a little editing could help. But any lack of finesse feels more like the result of budgetary issues and not lack of vision or abilities. I suspect that some of Sea of Bees’ charm lies in this incidental approach to releasing music and that a big budget could have an adverse effect on the songs. But Baenziger has a quality in her voice and her arrangements that suggests she has too much integrity to get covered in gloss. Wherever she ends up taking Sea of Bees, I suspect it will be worth following.
This debut release from Sacramento, California resident Julie Baenziger was never meant to reach our ears – at least, we’re told, not in its current form….
This debut release from Sacramento, California resident Julie Baenziger was never meant to reach our ears – at least, we’re told, not in its current form. Having been given just 15 minutes’ instruction in the dark arts of ProTools by producer John Baccigaluppi, Baenziger was left to her own devices for 48 hours to lay down some demos for her debut album, only to dazzle her teacher with the results when he returned: five roadworthy songs that conspired to form an EP in pretty much the order in which they were recorded, with only slight remixing by Baccigaluppi.
Not to be confused with the rough and ready She Keeps Bees, Baenziger’s one-woman band is primally disposed to bask in exultations of innocence and kindness. Opening track ‘Skinnybone’ instantly recalls Cortney Tidwell’s self-titled EP in the echoey simplicity of the recording and the tumbledown beauty of Baenziger’s vocals, a comparison that ‘The Woods’ can’t quite shake off. Baenziger’s clear, sweet melodies are untroubled, even when her mind is muddled, and it’s this seemingly unaffected benevolence that adds a golden touch to these songs.
It’s not so much the instrumentation that impresses, but the mesmeric way in which the songs hang together. Whether it is simply because they were intended as demos, or if Baenziger really does have an intuitive notion of compositional space, the songs feel pure and unforced, as if filled with light. After the all too brief, chime-laden ‘Lightfriend’ comes ‘Willis’, and with it the first hint that Baenziger is not a total naïf. Yet even in the realm of romantic betrayal her generosity shines through. “You said that you loved me / that doesn’t matter anymore,” cites her complaisant acceptance over a simple keyboard repetition.
Final track ‘Blind’ is perhaps the EP’s least distinctive inclusion. As unfailingly lovely as it is, it doesn’t really go anywhere, coasting along a level playing field of niceness. Nevertheless, if Baenziger can successfully translate the personality of these demos into a proper recording environment, her forthcoming album (working title A Song For The Raven) should be a cosmic delight. And with Vetiver’s Andy Cabic already confirmed as a guest vocalist, expect to hear plenty more buzz about Sea Of Bees in 2010.
Sea of Bees was the featured artist on DJ Jezz Harkin of Break Thru Radio show radio show this week. Check out the interview and music here Break Thru Radio
Sea of Bees was the featured artist on DJ Jezz Harkin of Break Thru Radio show radio show this week. Check out the interview and music here Break Thru Radio