Interview: Sea of Bees

Melanie McGovern chats with Jules Baesinger a.k.a Sea of Bees

Sea of Bees Sacramento's Sea of Bees is in an infectiously bubbly mood. By the time we take a seat to chat about her latest release Orangefarben, the follow up to the critically acclaimed debut Song for the Ravens of 2010, she has stopped to chat to almost every other person who has passed us at Hoxton's Bar and Kitchen in Shoreditch, where she is due to perform later that evening. Some are fans saying a quick hello, others old friends or industry members with whom she chats amiably before bounding off excitedly. "I love meeting people and sharing, 'cause I never did that growing up you know," she explains in a laid back California drawl. "I'm really shy, an introvert I guess, though it looks like on the outside I'm an extrovert. But that's only because I love to share. Sometimes it just fun to let it go you know?"

Certainly it is this unguarded yet bashful demeanour which makes Sea of Bees' Jules Baesinger so charming to engage with. And once the ball gets rolling it is almost impossible to stop her from what at times feels like a stream of consciousness analysis of her emotions from the moments she captures in Orangefarben. "I wasn't planning on writing about all that stuff" she states "but because it was so heavy upon me throughout the whole year, the only way I could really get out of it was by putting it out there. I knew if I tried writing something different it wouldn't have come out the way I wanted it to because I would keep writing about the same thing which was on Orangefarben."

Following the break up with her girlfriend, Sea of Bees' sophomore release took the shape of a looking back to the relationship. "Everyday I would get up and go to the studio and I would have to go through those memories again which was painful. But it was also like all of that stuff out. I would play a melody and if I liked that melody I would keep it and I would place it with a memory; start singing words that were in that memory and in those stories. I love two tracks I think: 'Girl' and 'Give'. 'Girl' was just a sweet memory that was pure. It was like a deep breath; that feeling you have when you first meet someone. And 'Give'; it's about being different and being tossed out to sea when you're young. You're stuck in religion, in the belly of whale [and] you were saved by somebody else. [One of those times when] you're taught about giving something instead of taking so much".

"Going through those memories really gave me understanding. I was able to put myself in her shoes and I was able to see that's why she responded in the ways that she did. I understand it and I respect her still nonetheless, she had reasoning and she wasn't trying to be mean you know. [I guess] I would like to be an example. I get perspective from my friends, and if I didn't have the people I have now in my life I'd be asking someone to tell me what to do, how to respond. I would always be searching for a way to solve this personal issue or experience. So I kind of want to be a friend out in the void [to my listeners] you know. I know it's typical because everyone breaks up at some point, but everybody’s stories are different. Some people don't want to call it a 'break-up', they wanna call it 'moving in a different direction' but you know...[it all comes back to that honesty]." This honesty and instinctual approach to songwriting is clear throughout her album, even going by track names alone which are merely one word titles. "I go by first instincts a lot, I never go by second thoughts. John and I would talk about the titles and I would think 'OK, this one is called 'Give'' I didn't want to make it complicated. It would be fun to make up some long, extremely complex title. [But] I'm not trying to be abstract or goofy, I'm not trying to be ambitious with my creativity. I'm just trying to be honest and direct with it."

Life's definitely accelerated over the past year for Baesinger. "Each month you're probably living a year of your life, so you come home really tired, yet also full. Drained yet full with all of these new experiences. It's a different lifestyle and it's a dream. But at the same time you're living so fast that so many people you know are still trying to catch up to where you've been in your life, or how many people you were with. I guess it can kind of affect how you communicate; you try and sum up everything in like one sentence. Getting back into a routine can be hard because musicians lifestyles are so up and down and all around. My poor Mom's the sweetest thing in the world and all she wants to do is have a cup of tea, and I'm there checking the time or forgetting it's OK to relax. I'm just planning my days out way tighter now so that I can make time before time. [It's] really precious right now, just realising the value of everything and everyone."

In light of the capturing of perhaps the more painful memories of her recent years, Jules is most definitely focusing on the positive in light of her tour and the summer. For the current tour which just wrapped up in the UK she played alongside friend and longtime touring partner Amber as well as drummer Rob who has played with the Smoke Faeries. "His friend James is here too, and they're in a band called Storybooks," relates a beaming Jules. "I want to move forwards and the tour is definitely a learning curve. We all know how to have a good time, how to keep it real and [the band] all really know the road. They have a good head on them," she laughs. "We haven't all played together for too long but I feel like we're definitely getting stronger as a band. We're just trying to make good memories and meet new people. It's been really important to me for people to see the fruits of how hard someone's worked. [My family] are really supportive now, but you get what you give and if you put in 150 you're gonna get that back or more...and if you don't then just keep doing it for your own self".