Interview: twentythreenineteen Talk Debut Record, Share Video For Lead Single “Losing Touch”

Posted: by The Editor

Philadelphia based indie outfit, twentythreenineteen, just announced the official release of their debut self-titled LP. Out June 21, through Know Hope Records, we are pleased to premiere the first single from the album, “Losing Touch”. Frontperson Sean McCall shared, “a big theme I played with on the record is choreography and expressing yourself without words.” The video features just that. A beautiful reflection of the turbulent ebb and flow that is at the core of every relationship; platonic, romantic, or otherwise.

We were able to catch up with McCall to learn more about the album, the creative process, their favorite local bands and more. Watch the video and read our interview below to find out what boneless indie is and whether or not the band is actually named after a Monsters Inc reference.

The Alternative: How does it feel to finally be releasing your first full-length record?

Sean McCall: It’s very accomplishing and humbling to be able to do this. I’ve had so many songs under my belt, including the EP before this. We actually recorded that and this full-length all at the same time at a random airbnb in the Poconos. It’s been so much fun, and humbling, to have so many talented and genuine friends help me turn this idea into a reality. I truly can’t believe that this is my first full length I’ve ever put out, with several bands in the past, I think this record means the most to me. It felt so good to get all my friends involved in the making of this release.

Wave [Deaner] and I used to hang a lot and would jam “Well-Dressed” in 2016, when we were both in different bands, and all of these songs were just voice memo ideas I never thought I’d do much with. Nick [Moretti] and I have always played shows together with our old bands, and he’s become such an amazing bassist. He truly strapped in and hustled in getting these parts down. Dylan [Walker] has always inspired me as a guitarist and a songwriter considering we both take influence from similar artists. At this point i’m ranting, but all in all, it’s a beautiful feeling.

What does this album mean to you? How does it represent you?

That’s definitely a loaded question because the songs off the LP were all just shitty demos I made in Logic that eventually fell into place. I think this album represents different times in my life where I’ve been going through some personal hardships. Communication is a big theme on this record, and that’s something I’d like to improve. I’m sure a lot of other people would like to as well. When it comes down to it, that’s the core of every relationship; whether it’s your friends, family, or partner.

There’s a lot of repetition in terms of themes/melodies that were played with. The first track opens with the ending vocals of “Losing Touch”, but it’s an entirely different song. That’s just one example, and there’s plenty more there. I’ve also always wanted to do a record where I record pretty much everything, and I was lucky enough to be able to record nearly every instrument on this LP (with the exception of “You” and “Tangled”; which have way better drummers). Luckily, we have a way better drummer for the future (shout out to Wave “Grubhub” Deaner). I think it represents me in a way that describes me with sounds as well as words, if that makes sense. Every song makes me feel something different, and hits me with their own sense of nostalgia.

Is “twentythreenineteen” really a Monsters Inc. reference? The world needs to know.

We get this question a lot, and it totally is! It’s also the address number of our house in Philly, so it’s kind of a two birds, one stone kind of thing. When we moved there a couple years back, we would always make the joke, “We got a 2319!” and eventually it turned into this project after my previous projects came to a halt. It’s a very annoying name to find on Spotify/Apple music, etc. and I’m sorry for that.

Who are some of your biggest inspirations when it comes to writing music and creating new soundscapes?

I’ve grown up listening to a wide variety of music, and having older siblings who showed me bands like Taking Back Sunday, Say Anything, Death Cab, Dashboard Confessional, etc. [that] definitely shaped me. I feel blessed to have siblings who listened to good music. Shoutout to my fam for that. I think my biggest inspirations would definitely be Evan Weiss and Ben Gibbard, and there’s no surprise there if you listen to the record. I have no shame in subconsciously ripping off my favorite artists.

As for the music and melodies, I’ve always been into theater as well, and I think there’s a hint of “show tune” throughout the album as well. That’s also a huge reason that I like to play around with recurring themes. The same melody/lyrics with a different atmosphere can give you an entirely different inner feeling while still technically saying the same thing, just in a new way.  

How do you think you’ve matured as a musician since the release of your last EP? What are (if you have any) some techniques you do to better your craft?

Honestly, I recorded this record at the same time as the EP. It’s just that some of the songs from To Those Who Stole My Light I’ve been sitting on since 2016. So I think you can hear a different writing style/maturity level in the music for sure. My last band just tried to write indie pop songs and ripped off The Killers which was a lot of fun, but it definitely didn’t represent what I wanted to portray as an artist. I think this release does that. At least I hope.

I’m more proud of this record than any other releases that I’ve been a part of purely because I’ve finally felt comfortable in my own skin to share my songs. I’ve always been really good at adding to other people’s original ideas, but these songs were built from scratch myself, and I’ve been lucky enough to have the common roles reversed. I try to better my craft by listening to music/genres I don’t normally play. Alt-J and Bon Iver would be two good examples. They’re obviously not the same genre as twentythreenineteen, but using your ear, you can find musical elements and progressions that are similar. I think it’s important to train your ear and practice things outside your comfort zone to help you solve the musical puzzle everyone is capable of solving.

If you had to summarize the album in a few words what would you say?

Hmm that’s tough. I have some trouble describing just our genre, but I guess I’d say “coping with sounds” because writings songs helps me articulate my feelings and understand myself in a way that I couldn’t do otherwise.

I noticed you describe yourself as, “boneless indie” on your Bandcamp, which I enjoy a lot. However, a lot of people would lump the band into being emo, do you consider the band that? Would you say emo is a negative buzz word when it comes to press? Do genre tags really matter?

*laughs* Thank you! I’ve had mixed reviews on that. Firstly, I don’t think genre tags should matter personally, considering music is all over the place. But, I just thought it was funny because I like to describe things as “boneless”, and I wouldn’t say we’re a full on indie band like Two-Door Cinema Club or Vampire Weekend. There’s definitely an emo vibe because I’m an emotional human, and I find it much easier to write when I’m not feeling my best. I have a difficult time communicating and fully expressing myself with just words, so writing songs is my best way to get what I want to say off of my chest.

Like I said before, I have a tough time describing twentythreenineteen with one category/genre. Emo shouldn’t be a negative buzz word when it comes to press, because emo is authentic. It’s just harder for some listeners to digest that kind of music. I think there’s a lot of different sounds here, including emo, but I feel like there’s a song or two that everyone can get down with, if that makes sense. Some songs are more pop than others, and some are definitely more emotional and “angsty” then the rest.

What was the creative process behind making the video for “Losing Touch”?

A big theme I played with on the record is choreography and expressing yourself without words. I was lucky enough to have some best friends from college contribute and bring my vision to life. I basically explained my interpretation of the song, what I visualized, and we went from there. It was definitely a group effort, and I couldn’t have done it without the team we had, and I’m super excited with the way it turned out. Ryan and Jesse have been great friends who have helped us make a couple amazing music videos before with my last band.

I also had a very tight circle of friends in college that truly kept me grounded, and Leah and Dana were two of my friends amongst that group, so I was super happy when they were willing to help create this beautiful video. I truly can’t thank all of them enough. I teared up when I first saw it, and to me, that’s a successful portrayal of the song.

Why’d you want this to be the first single?

This song was the first thing I finished in a long time purely by myself. In past projects, I’ve felt my musical contribution and writing was super enjoyable, but wasn’t really enough. “Losing Touch” was the song I wrote when I was feeling very vulnerable and alone, and I needed to put that negative energy into something positive. I still turn the song on if I’m feeling down honestly. The last 30 seconds or so still make me smile and feel super hopeful yet nostalgic. I think it’s just the song I hold most meaning to, and I wanted that to be the focus point of the record for sure. I hope that people will hear that, and feel what I’ve felt. We’re not alone; as easy as it is to feel that way, and this song is a good reminder of that in my opinion.

Who are some of your favorite local bands? What do you love most about your local scene?

Some of my favorite local bands have to be Rich People, Typopro, Goings, Sleep In., Have a Good Season, and Sweet Pill. That being said, the list could go on and on, and I just can’t name them all. There’s so many talented bands in our surrounding area, and we’re truly blessed to have such a genuine community of people.

My favorite thing about our local scene is the constant support. I try to make it out to as many shows as I possibly can, and I know everyone else does the same if they’re free. None of this would be possible without community, and it truly shows that we have one. Huge thank you to anyone and everyone who’s ever supported us, as well as all the other incredible artists in our area. Much love.

How do you decide who you want to work with when it comes to your music? (creative design/mixing/etc)

Like I said in the last question, I’m surrounded by talented friends, musicians, and creatives. Without them, I wouldn’t have this record, and these demos would still be stuck in Logic. My friends gave me the encouragement to share this with the world, and helped bring it to life. Luckily, one of my best friends Evan King, who I’m in Nonfiction with, was such a big help in producing/mixing this record. The LP and EP cover were hand made by my pal Erin Kiesel (check out @nudiestitches) and the majority of our promos/pictures/content in general was made by Connor Rothstein who runs a page called @cemeterytapes. I can’t name them all, or else I’d be writing a novel, but I have a large group of friends that offers their hand all the time. I’m very lucky for that.

Anything else you want to share or add?

I just want to make sure I’m thanking everybody again because I couldn’t feel more grateful for the amount of love this project has been getting. The fact that even one person wants to take time out of their lives to listen is significant enough for me. I’d also like to thank Know Hope Records for having faith in us and investing in this project. I’ve had multiple bands before this, and I’m just really happy to finally be settled down in this one. I’m very excited for the future, thank you again to every individual who’s made this dream possible.

Pre-orders for the album are now available through Know Hope Records. Find twentythreenineteen on Twitter / Facebook / Bandcamp

Emily Kitchin | @deathnap4cutie

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