What are your names?
Lee Switzer, Kimberley Jenna Woolf and Christian Sturgess
What is the band’s name?
The Seasons in Shorthand
How did you come up with the band’s name?
B I write a lot of songs, and to me they’re a way of documenting or diarising my life, good and bad. I wanted a name that reflected that, so I came up with The Seasons in Shorthand. Each song acts as a kind of footnote for a particular point in our lives.
What is your genre of music?
I would describe us as alt-folk or indie folk.
Give us a little bio about you as a band.
The Seasons in Shorthand combine heartfelt, introspective songs with dual male / female vocals and driving bass lines. We have been lucky enough to play some amazing venues, such as the O2 Academies in Oxford and Islington, but we are most at home in small art spaces, basements and back rooms. Our debut single Imperfect Loss came out in 2018 and can be found on all good streaming sites, along with a live EP titled ‘Is this love or a commercial break?’.
What made you go into music?
For me it was a love of writing, and in particular song lyrics. I was writing lyrics from a very young age, long before I could play any instrument, and took up playing guitar so that I could do something with them.
Are you a signed?
We are part of a fantastic independent label based in Oxford in the UK called All Will Be Well records. They have an amazing roster of talented local acts, and go out of their way to support us all. If you like what you hear of our music, be sure to check out the rest of the All Will Be Well group, because there is some truly beautiful music to discover.
You released your new single ‘Kuiper Belt’, tell us more about the single.
All Will Be Well records, in true DIY style, recently gained the facilities required to cut their own 7” vinyl, and have now started releasing limited runs of double A side records for its acts. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to be the 3rd release for them, and we jumped at the chance. The first single we’ve released from the vinyl is called Kuiper Belt. We shot a video for the single ourselves (it was edited by our bassist Christian, filmed by his wife Jess) which you can check out on our youtube channel. Smart
What is the meaning behind the single?
As I mentioned before, our songs are very personal, and we talk openly about issues such as anxiety and depression. For this reason, I think a lot of people that we’ve met have found a personal connection to our songs and have opened up about similar issues with us. Kuiper Belt is about making that connection. I think many of us have found ourselves living in a world that we’re struggling to relate to, whether it is the rise of fascism and hate or religious zealotry, it is the land of the cults, and we’re all left lost and disenfranchised. Kuiper Belt talks in an almost cult like manner but is instead about rejecting the tribalistic urges and choosing to open up, to talk, to be compassionate and look after each other.
Describe the track in two words.
What was the writing process like?
Unusually for us it was song that came together in the studio. Most of our songs are tracks that we’ve been playing live and lived with for quite some time, whereas this was a brand new track written to record. I wrote the lyrics in a hotel room in Belgium, and I instantly had the melody ingrained in my head. Which almost never happens. I put together a rough demo on my phone and sent it around to the others. We had one afternoon where we sat down in a room and played around with some ideas, for this and a couple of other new songs, and it instantly felt good. Kim added some beautiful harmonies, and Christian immediately locked in with the perfect bassline to carry the song.
What was the recording process like?
We had one day of studio time to record both tracks from the vinyl, so we were very conscious of time, but once we got into the room it didn’t feel pressured at all. I laid down the guitar and the keys, Christian put down his bass, and then we got in and performed the vocals. Christian and Kim are both amazing when it comes to recording performance, so I always feel the pressure!
Who did you work with on the single?
Just like with our previous single Imperfect Loss, we recorded Kuiper Belt and Zoetrope at Silver Street Studio UK, with Graeme Rawson. The studio has the most beautiful live room, and we were very keen to work with Graeme because of his great work in our genre. He is an excellent producer, who creates the perfect, relaxed atmosphere in the studio, brings really good ideas to the table, and helps you take a step back and view the way each aspect of the song fits together. Thanks to his own projects he has a very good ear for the digital synth sounds that we’ve used in our songs, and somehow can produce the exact sound we’re looking for to fit our tracks.
You also released a video, tell us more about a making and recording process.
We had a lot of fun making the video. We try to do everything as DIY as possible and the video was no exception. As I mentioned previously, it was shot by our bassist Christian’s wife Jess Sturgess, who is a very talented photographer and artist, and edited by Christian. Due to busy schedules we unfortunately ended up filming on the hottest day of the year! Not the ideal time to be running around in the woods. We filmed in a place called Sulham woods, which is very close to where we live all live in Reading. The video is designed to begin from the end of our previous single’s video, so I can be seen wearing the same clothes in the beginning, before being transported to a much eerier black and white setting, where I’m haunted by some disturbing alternative versions of ourselves.
We will also see a 7” Vinyl with a bonus track, tell us all about the second track.
The second track is a song that we’ve had for some time, and usually ends up being a live favourite. It is called Zoetrope and is an intimate tale of hiding a forbidden love in a digital age where all of our actions can feel publicised. The song is much more stripped back than Kuiper Belt, and is comprised only of bass guitar and vocals.
Where can it be bought?
It is currently available to order from Bandcamp via us or All Will Be Well Records.
Do you have any shows coming up?
We just played a release show in-store in a legendary record store in Oxford called Truck Store. That was a real bucket list experience for us.
On 13th of September we’re playing a very special little show in a community arts space called The Rising Sun Arts Centre in our hometown, which I am curating for local promoters The Big Untidy. The night is going to be called The Torchlight Book Club, and features some of my favourite local artists.
What else can we expect in 2019?
We’re going to be lining up some more shows for the end of the year to support the digital release of the songs, and we’ll be back in a dark room somewhere working on more new songs.
Do you have any collaborations coming up with any upcoming artists?
We don’t have anything in the pipeline currently, but we have collaborated in the past with a singer/songwriter/one-man band project from Bristol called Nightjjar. Everyone should check him out.
Would you be up for collaborations if other musicians wanted one with you? and who would they have to contact?
Yes, definitely. It’s best to drop us a message via social media.
Do you play any instruments?
We do the following in the band, depending on the track: Lee – Vocals, Keys, Guitars. Christian – Bass, Ukulele. Kimberley – Vocals.
Who are your influences?
It varies greatly for each of us. For me as a songwriter my influences include Conor Oberst, Paul Simon, Thom Yorke, Villagers, Andy Hull / Manchester Orchestra and John K Samson of The Weakerthans. To name just a few.
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
Writing is my passion and I try wherever possible to write a little something every day. I think unfortunately the best inspiration for my songs tends to come from more negative places, so struggles with anxiety, general maudlin existential crisis. You know, all the good things. But I also think it’s important to try to reach out and connect with what other people are going through, so I talk to people, I read a lot, and try to look for an interesting or subverted angle on what I find.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
Hopefully doing the same thing. I think the next target for us will be to put out an EP, so that is my focus right now. I’m not really looking beyond that.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
Kim and I have a son, and Christian and Jess have a beautiful doggy, so we’re all about that parent life right now. Kim is also an illustrator. She designed the stunning cover to our vinyl, and all of our other artwork. You can find her work online by searching for Spoke By Kimberley.
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more into the music scene?
That’s a difficult question. I came to music through the punk scene, so the real answer wouldn’t reflect our band at all, but when it comes to our particular alt-folk scene I think it would be Weather Reports by Bright Eyes.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
I can turn that around and give you the worst advice I was ever given. Someone from the local music scene once told me to write more happy songs so that people can relate to them. I’ve been proudly ignoring it ever since.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Make the music you want to hear. If you’re trying to fit yourself into a bracket to please an assumed audience or even to appease the other members of your band, you’ll never be happy. If you’re making music for yourself you can always be proud, and anything that comes after is a bonus.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” – Douglas Adams.
Where in your hometown is a must go to visit?
My favourite place in Reading is The Rising Sun Arts Centre. There is always something amazing happening there, from music to poetry to art. We’re so lucky to have it.
Your coming off tour;
1/ Where do you go first? Bed. Via the kitchen for snacks.
2/ Who do you see first? My son Castle.
3/What do you eat first? Hummus.
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
My pre-gig ritual is chamomile and honey, on top of that I’d say our merch (which I always forget), a setlist (which I always forget) and the words.
Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you?
You can find us in the following places
We’re also on Spotify/Apple Music/itunes etc.
All Will Be Well Records