Zac Little of Saintseneca fills in the blanks about writing Christmas songs, jewelry smithing, and the influence of bluegrass harmonies on their songwriting.
So the latest music we've heard from you is an EP released during Christmastime last December that contained some holiday originals. What were the origins of those songs and were they newer or older material?
I'm a sucker for a good Christmas song. I always thought it would be fun to try and write one.
Five years ago, I was feeling particularly antsy because I had just written the songs for Dark Arc and we were finished recording (version one) of the record. I always feel bummed after finishing a huge project like that, so I try to channel that energy into something productive.
The tradition continued, and I wrote a song each subsequent year around the holidays. This was year 5, which seemed like a nice, tidy punctuation point, so I figured we should bundle them together to present it all as a whole.
You guys are based in Columbus, Ohio. How does Columbus enhance or help you cultivate your creativity?
Columbus has been a really nurturing and supportive place for us. There are so many talented folks here now, and have been over the years. There is always something interesting happening if you open your head a little. I try to always keep my antenna up and just soak in what's going on. The music scene is great, but I find a lot of inspiration outside of that realm as well.
You're currently writing/recording your next record on ANTI- as we speak. How is this record going to be different in regard to influences or processes for recording or production?
Have you ever seen one of those line drawings, say of a chair, where the lines don't always quite touch in a literal obvious way - but your mind fills in the blanks and sees that collection of lines as an image of a chair?
That kind of impressionistic idea is what I have in mind for production - room to project and inhabit, maybe complete the songs in a certain sense - but with some surreal and mysterious touches that jolt you out of your expectations.
But it will be pop songs with guitars and drums and stuff.
You make jewelry in your spare time. What kind of stuff do you make and how did you get into that trade? Any notable pieces you've made or are exceptionally proud of?
Yeah! I do metal working, mostly with brass and silver, sometimes gold or copper. I studied sculpture in school, where I learned some basic techniques. I just watched YouTube tutorials after that.
I was feeling pretty burnt out and frustrated with academic art by the time I was finishing my degree. I'd spend a hundred hours on a giant creation with some lofty concept that wasn't all that exciting to anyone, and then just chucked the thing in the dumpster after critique.
It's a lot more fun to make a mysterious little thing you can put in your pocket. People use that art as an extension of how they express themselves, they live with it. I like my prism necklaces - those are the first thing I made that got me started on jewelry. As of late, I've enjoyed wearing the black onyx pyramid ring.
Saintseneca has wildly unique harmonies and melodies - part of what captivates me as a listener. Where do you draw inspiration from for your songwriting style?
I listen to all kinds of stuff. I love the Beatles first. But, anything can be useful. I really like bluegrass harmonies. We have this great Bluegrass Ramble show on the radio here in Columbus and I really dig the older bluegrass tunes - especially the high harmonies sung kind of wild get me going. Plus, I'm really fortunate to be in a band where everyone who is on the mic is probably a better singer than me.
What type of things most inspire you to write music? Is it people, places, or things that spur creativity for you?
People inspire me most. Fundamentally, I'm writing to make stuff connect with other humans. I don't write much about relationships in the conventional sense. Any idea, be that mystical quantum physics, or the history of a street name, mitochondrial DNA, or TV shows, or whatever can be seen as interwoven in how we are connected as beings.
Your visual artwork for the band is always beautiful. Is this done in-house and in what ways does your music and visual art converge? Is there a strong visual element you imagine for your music and songwriting?
Thanks! Yeah it has almost always been "in house." The exception being a couple instances where I saw something that expressed what I was feeling better than I could. I the bulk of the visuals, but Maryn Jones and Steva Jacobs have contributed a good number of things as well.
I don't really compartmentalize very well creatively, so the visual stuff is coming from the same vibe and place as the music.