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INTERVIEW: CEEM

Hi C, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Been good, just got back from vacation in France. Took some time to decompress and hang out with some friends. Also, spent a lot of time writing. So much writing!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Better Than That”?

I wrote “Better Than That” as a response to a difficult time one of my relationships was experiencing. It was relationship I thought I knew so well, but suddenly and without warning, that relationship was thrown into chaos. I could always depend on the strength of this relationship to help guide me through things and when I wrote the song during the summer of 2018, at that time, many things in my life were scattered, and I didn’t have the stability or comfort from this relationship that I was used to. It was like the rug was pulled out from under my feet and in addressing this relationship, I came up with the title thinking to myself, “I thought I knew us better than that”. I was left thinking to myself, “Did I rely too much on this relationship? How did I let myself get so attached and not even realize it?” It’s like I needed to find the cause and effect to why things had changed so drastically.

 

However, going through this rough patch with this relationship, actually made things stronger and better between us. There was a lesson there that I had to learn, when shit breaks and it heals, it heals stronger than it was before. It’s hard to see that when you’re going through it, but once I came out the other side, I looked back and saw why this particular relationship had to fall apart in order to get put back together, and really the lesson or the moral of the story to the song is, no matter how well you THINK you know something or someone, things can always change, and it’s up to us how we respond to that change.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

In hindsight it wasn’t one particular event, even though it seemed like it at the time, but rather more and more mis steps and began to erode this relationship, until I felt abandoned and questioning myself about how I could allow myself to become so dependent on this relationship. I pride myself in my independence, so I felt a little blind-sided.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

No video.

The single comes off your new album Cruel World – what’s the story behind the title?

The title comes from all the shit that happened in 2016. It actually started with the death of David Bowie, and then Prince, and George Michael. These were some of my idols growing up, so I felt a tremendous loss. Also all the violence and mass shootings, it just seemed that the world was spiraling into chaos. Then and friend and I came face to face with one of these attacks on vacation in Nice, France. We found ourselves running from gunfire and for our lives. It just seemed that the world could be so cruel, so I was compelled to share my relationships with these events and how they affected me.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process was really tough at times. One song in particular, I could barely get through singing it in the studio when I was recording. The song is Unbreakable, and it’s extremely personal, and I felt really exposed, more exposed than I have before when writing. It’s about the after math and dealing with the trauma from Nice in 2016, and the lesson I learned is that the event doesn’t define me, and it actually made me more independent and face more of my fears, because I’ll be damned if I let a terrorist dictate my behavior, no one has that power over me, so in the end, from that terrible situation I felt that I became unbreakable. The other songs off the record aren’t quite as serious, well maybe one or two, or maybe I’m just kidding myself and they are. But the overall process is part cathartic, part confessional, and part assessing and really looking at my closest relationships.

What is it about the 80s that you find so fascinating?

The music, the artists, the time for experimentation, the make-up, how artists were really diving into experimentation with looks and fashion. But it’s the music! I know 80’s was born from disco, but the synth sounds, like the Eurythmics, Yaz, too many to name that I just fell in love with. On the flip side to that though, I also fell in love with the punk ideal and fell in love with Siouxsie and the Banshees and Blondie. I felt like all my idols were weirdos and that resonated with me because I still to this day feel like a weirdo and an outcast, but I’ve also learned, that is exactly what makes me, me.

What role does Seattle play in your music?

I think Seattle comes into play with my music, it’s really the inspiration part. I feel so lucky to live in a town where so much good music has come out of. Maybe that’s where my emo style lyric writing comes from, because the influence was so close, and I have so many friends in bands that were influenced from the 90’s bands that came out of Seattle. So, it’s probably just something that I learned, and it’s stuck with me.

How do you go on blending future pop with emo music?

I take the future pop influence with the sounds that I use and the arrangement style of my songs. I really like incorporating organic sounds found in nature with synthetic sounds. It creates a fun contrast that is found in so many songs I find myself listening to. From the emo side, that’s where I find my lyric writing coming into place. I like to think of it as cry baby pop J

What aspect of relationship did you get to explore on this record?

So many different aspects, all the aspects really. I found myself evaluating my relationships and my feelings towards them, and these are all relationship types, romantic, personal, fictional, the relationship I have with myself. For a time, I was living so much in my own head, so I found myself analyzing myself a lot through the writing process.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Oh my gosh everywhere. But I really found myself being in awe of watching a few of my friends write. It comes so easy to some people. For me I have to work a little harder. I don’t typically write how I speak, and I feel like my lyrics can come across as aggressive or insincere which is what I’m trying to avoid. But, when I was back in France this summer, I had to work through some personal demons, and when I came out the other side, it was like a flood of lyrics and lines, and I found myself reaching for a pen or my phone or anything to make sure I didn’t lose anything.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’d love to hit the road. If it makes sense I’m totally down! But my electronic music is hard to perform in a way where you’re not closed off from the audience. All I can say right now is stay tuned.

What else is happening next in CEEM’s world?

Keep spreading positive vibes because the world needs it and I’m already planning my next release. It’s high level right now, but it’s going to a synthwave influenced dance record. I’ve been toying with the title “Nighthawk and the adventures of the electronic clit” but that title might be too long.

Listen here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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