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Seth Feargolzia interview

© Bob Civil

Seth Faergolzia rose up from New York City's Lower East Side almost 20 years ago with his Anti-Folk/Freak-Folk band Dufus.
Twenty albums down the line and Seth has signed to London's Blang label with his two bands, the eight piece 23 Psaegz and new quartet Multibird.
Multibird toured Europe throughout July and will be back in October to celebrate the release of new album High Diver released on October 7th on Blang

I got the chance to catch up with Seth as he returned home from his recent tour.

Ross Beattie: I hope all is good?

Seth Faergolzia: All is wonderful! Just off of a month long European tour and chilling at home with my kid and the mother of my child to be!

How was the tour?

Tour was splendid. We played 5 countries... four of the shows were sweet festivals to hundreds of people. Very new to me, headlining this one festival in Germany, the audience was off the hook, going nuts... We lived up to what they wanted of us and can't wait to return next year!

Tell us about Mulitbird ?

Multibird is sort of the core four members of my larger band, 23 Psaegz. Both play music that I've written, but Multibird has been taking on a life of its own. It was formed to help me record some of my #100song project. I just had too many songs to complete, so formed a smaller group to work through some of the more artsy or difficult stuff. It's turned out to be a flame burner of a craze magnet!

Not too long ago you built your own studio in your house, how's it working out for you?

It's great but pretty hot right now. We're in the midst of a drought here in Rochester and the studio is built in the attic of my house. It's been amazing to have my own work space to get really deep into the recording stuff. It's really working out very well. In fact, we are releasing a whole bunch of the tracks with the London label, Blang, this coming October on an album called High Diver.

How were the Bernie Sanders fundraisers? 

Both were inspiring and incredible. We raised enough money with the first one to open a campaign office for Bernie here in Rochester. We've made quite a difference in the local scene. The shows themselves were inspiring. So great to see so many incredible artists pulling together to raise money and awareness for such a strong political movement. Though Bernie may not become president this term, I think he will make a big difference in American politics despite that fact.

I saw you play many moons ago at what I guess you could call an antifolk extravaganza at Spitz in London with Kimya Dawson, Jeffrey Lewis, Toby Goodshank, Prewar Yardsale and your band Dufus. Do you keep in much contact with the old crowd?

I do keep in touch with the old crowd a bit. Kimya moved out to the west coast so I barely ever see her anymore, but all the rest of them are part of my life still from time to time when I visit NYC. I'm living upstate now in Rochester, NY.

Tell us about your #100 songs subscription project?

I wrote 100 songs over the course of four months, following a tour with Jeffrey Lewis in 2014. He and I had been talking about daily writing projects bringing out good work so I decided to give it another go (since it had been about 15 years since I wrote that aggressively). I wrote a hundred songs in 4 months and then recorded and released them, one per week, over the following year. It turned out to be an amazingly inspired year, and I had people subscribing to my work via www.faergolzia.com. It helped to have subscribers so I could take the year off of touring and focus strictly on the art. My best work in ages, perhaps ever!

Can you tell us a bit about the direction you are heading next with your multimedia projects?

I've just started a Patreon page (www.patreon.com/sethfaergolzia) on which I'll be posting new songs and working more on video. I want to make music videos and start releasing my rock opera, scene by scene, as webisodes. People sign up and can pledge as little as $1 per thing I release. It's cool because the people who love my art can support me making it, but they only get charged when I come through with the work. I'm hoping a ton of people will subscribe once I get my pace set, and then I can take a break from the touring and really be an artist instead of a performer for a while. 

It always seemed to me that you created your own genre of music. Can you put a name to it or is it just what you do?

I really don't like to put a name to it. As soon as I put a name to it then I'm held to that concept and can't stray from it. I know people like pigeon holes and it's smart marketing to put a name on it, but I like my freedom, so I usually choose ambiguous terms.

How hard is it to make a living doing what you do?

Very hard. I work every day for hours and hours doing stuff I don't want to do, like booking, promotion, management, website crap... the whole nine yards. I work my butt off... then at night I rehearse and write! It's a busy busy life for me. I like the work, and I feel sooooo free when I finally get to stand up in front of people and play the songs or to release one of the songs when the mix is finally done. It's a good 40-60 hours of work a week when I'm in motion. I've made myself ill with work in the past. I'm starting to learn how to pace myself and to learn what it means to be a person and not such a business oriented artist, but it's taking me forever to really get it! I wish people would just pay me to make the art and someone else would do the business, but this is the life of an artist today.


Favourite venue to play?

One which is packed with supportive, loving fans who hang on my every note and word!

Best gig you've even been to?

I've gotten to witness a Balanese Gamelan orchestra with traditional dancers using their fingers and eyes as their main movement pieces. That was probably the most profound live art I've gotten to witness.

If you had to choose, could you give me 3 favourites of your own songs?

Oh boy, hmm, High Diver is my present fave. From my past, I would pick Freedom and Black and Blue off the top of my head, but it's really hard because of the variety of moods I can be in. This is just my present list. Tomorrow I might be in a sad mood and pick three different ones.

Congratulations on the impending arrival of your newest family member! Any name ideas yet?

Haha, we have a pile of names chosen, but I doubt as if any of them will make the cut.

Below you can find the link to the new single Garbage Night which will be released late September, and this is what Seth has to say about it...

My daughter and I enjoy going out on Wednesday nights here in Rochester looking for treasure in the garbage people put out. This song is about that. I’m a strong supporter of reusing and repurposing stuff. I’m not a fan of throwing things out and using things which can only be used once. So this is my trash anthem, haha. In preparing for the release of this song, I thought, perhaps I should use some instruments I’ve actually found in the garbage to accompany the song… you know, living by my word… anyway, my daughter helped me to sample a huge pile of metal percussion pieces I’ve collected over the years from old lamps, or pots and pans etc. We made a huge recording of samples then I sifted through it and made a virtual keyboard for triggering the samples. It took an extra week of work that I didn’t know would have to happen.

© Bob Civil

- Ross Beattie
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