Get To Know: Seasaw
Harmonies. Sparkles. Friendship. Those three words come to mind when I think of the folk-pop duo Seasaw. After their wonderful and quirky set on the Daytrotter stage on day 1 of Daytrotter Downs, I sat down with Meg Golz and Eve Wilczewski to find out more about these Madison-based musicians with a magnetic stage presence. The pair released their third album last summer and they are currently on tour for the next two weeks, playing in major cities like DC, Chicago, and New York. During our interview, we chatted about their fateful meeting, the process behind the album, their love for Karen O, choreographed dancing, and more. Get to know Seasaw now...
They come from a music-saturated background
"I grew up in a musical family," Meg Golz says about her start in music. "I started playing piano in grade school, and I just couldn’t focus on it. I started the cello in 5th grade. I played that until I was a junior in high school...I was just never very good at it, I decided to try choir for a year," Meg continues. She even went on to take a percussion course after she didn't make varsity choir, which got you out of gym class. Luckily, she made the drum line and that got her out of gym class. "That’s where I learned to play the drums," she says. In addition to piano, cello, and drums, Meg says she eventually picked up the guitar when she went away to college.
As for Eve Wilczewski, her family wasn't as into creating music, but they were always very appreciative of it. "My mom did play piano, my dad did play the accordion, but they both let it dwindle and didn’t really follow through. They both are like huge music fans and took me to shows and concerts all throughout my childhood," Eve says. She continues on to say that her mom got her into playing music at a young age. "I've played violin since 2nd grade. That was really awesome cause I had a head start before the regular public school, which starts usually at 5th grade. I did violin all throughout high school. I still play, but I don’t take lessons anymore. I also did guitar in high school and continue to play that. Guitar was kind of just because I was tired of playing classical music and wanted to learn the things that I listened to. I love the violin but all the teachers I had wanted to only do classical and I wanted to do gypsy music, or jazz music, or bluegrass...," Eve recalls. "I wanted to do that so I could incorporate more of the stuff that I love," she says about playing guitar.
An Italian restaurant brought them together
As Eve and Meg tell the story about how they get together, I can tell it's one that's been told many times, but they tell it in a very authentic, genuine way. Meg starts the story, saying, "I went away to college, but I hated it. So I came back after a semester to try to figure out where else I wanted to go. I started working at an Italian restaurant that I had worked in while I was in high school, and they took me back." Eve interjected the story to say, "We’re 6 years apart. So we never met in middle or high school. I was with Meg’s brother and sister, but I never met her. So it was lucky that we met at this restaurant. We met by chance." As fate would have it, they both had started working at the restaurant, often on the same shift. "We kind of got to talking and realized that we listened to the same type of music, and we had the same sense of humor. We knew we both played music cause I knew [Eve] was in orchestra with my brother and sister," Meg says.
"We would just be talking and laughing and almost be getting fired our entire shift because we were secretly making fun of stuff and laughing. There would be no one there on our shift," Eve recalled. Despite the good times they had working together, Meg says she had to court a friendship out of Eve for months. "I kept asking if she wanted to hang out with me and she’d be like 'hmm I gotta hang out with my mom'. I always thought she was like joking...She was actually hanging out with her mom. I realized as I became her friend that she wasn’t actually playing me that whole time," Meg reminisced.
They recorded and produced their third album themselves
Seasaw's record Too Much of a Good Thing was the first one they were able to fully take their time on. "Meg recorded it in the basement studio that we have in Madison. Meg mixed a lot of it, and engineered it, and we were able to spend as much time as we possibly could. Before this album, I was living far away in La Crosse, WI. So the other two albums that we’ve done have been basically nickled and dimed on weekends. This is the first one where we actually got to be engrossed in the product from start to finish without relying on other people," Eve says.
Meg picked up her craft of engineering and producing when she went away to the Madison Media Institute. Fate also played a hand in this record's production when Eve moved into a house that coincidentally had a basement studio. "We just insulated it ourselves and did the recording in there," Meg says about the basement studio. Continuing to talk about recording experience, she says, "It was an awesome learning experience all around and allowed us to have the product we were really passionate and happy with. Also we were able to really study what we were creating, and build the concept of what songs we were including."
Eve's artistic background plays a hand in their style
During their performance, Meg and Eve were rocking some amazing, coordinated outfits. And they had a bedazzled drum kit, so naturally I had to ask them where they get their style inspiration. "Eve is really into fashion," Meg says. After Eve interjected to say she's not that into fashion in "normal life" and it's more for the stage, Meg continues, "She has a painting degree so she has the most amazing eye for color. So she puts things together that I normally wouldn’t and then I’m able to like match my outfit to go with that. I don’t love dressing myself and it’s good when she takes the lead."
Eve elaborates on their stage style, saying, "I think part of it for me, is when I go see a performance, as an audience member, it takes a lot of effort for me to get my body in the building. Like I put in effort to look nice because it’s a special thing and I’m spending my money and time to go see something. And I think as a performer, because we were both trained as dancers and musicians in orchestra and choir...you always want to create that whole package, like I’m putting in effort and I look nice for you. Or like I’m looking at least interesting or thought-provoking. Also bands have been doing this forever, like The Beatles and The Beach Boys all coordinate. I think it goes along with my painting degree, like the aesthetic of what we’re putting together. It’s important to me. And also when I go out and see bands, it’s a choice to look one way or the other. And I think [Meg's] right because I am a painting major that I notice that. It’s very forefront for me."
Meg and Eve also channel their creativity and unique style into their music videos. Their most recent video for "Into the White" features dancing and balloons, and it was shot in all one take. Meg and Eve also came up with the concept themselves. Talking more about the video (which you need to watch), Meg says, "I [had] been dying to do a dancing video. That’s one of the things I love most about Eve. I can do the worst and most awful dancing in any scenario and it will always make her laugh. It’s just the best sound in the world and it encourages me to do this thing I’m not very good at."
Karen O and diverse artists inspire them
As far as their style (and sound) influences, both Meg and Eve agree that Karen O (from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) has inspired them. Meg says what she loves about Karen O is "her power on stage as a performer and the things that she’s passionate about, and what she does for the general community as well as the music community." Eve says they also appreciate her diversity, and Meg mentions that they were in a Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover band. Continuing the discussion about diversity, Eve says, "We don’t really like to have two songs that sound the same.I just get bored really easily. We are attracted to artists who do diverse things. Cause like even The Beatles almost every song is completely different."
Eve also gives a nod to another artist for inspiring her. "Someone that I really love is an artist named Buffy Sainte-Marie. She’s an artist that was an activist and a folk musician back in the 60's. Her music was very anti-Vietnam War and pro American-Indian movement, so she got blacklisted and a lot of people don’t know about her music. She’s made music though the whole time, she’s still making music... and she’s 70. She’s really into fashion, she’s got a beautiful figure. She’s a visual artist, she’s gorgeous and she keeps creating relevant things about like the oil industry and XYZ," Eve gushes. "Buffy has this like amazing voice and very diverse work, cause she does all these social songs, but there’s love songs or it’s like rock or folk. So both of these women [Karen O and Buffy Sainte-Marie] are like very powerful women and prolific. They both haven’t stopped making. We both also love the White Stripes. And I think all these artists have a rawness. I don’t like it sounding too polished," Eve continued.
They love the Madison music scene
While talking to Meg and Eve, they just radiated vibes of love and positivity between each other, and it quickly became clear that friendship makes up the foundation of their band. In addition to the bond between them as a band, they also have a lot of love for their home-town music scene.
"Madison is a very nice community, like the musicians there are very nice and welcoming. Like I didn’t know anyone in Madison and some of the first people I met were bands that invited us to play. So I don’t know, it’s unique because everyone just wants everyone to succeed instead of being competitive. Like everybody lifts each other up. We had four or five local musicians from all different bands play with us [at our record release show]," Eve says.
"We premiered our video that night and we also had all the guests who had played on the album come join us and we played with a full band. We don’t usually do that, that’s the first time we’ve ever had a full band on stage," Meg chimed in about the album release show. "We come from a community where there really was no music scene so it’s really just unique to be now put into that and being in such a welcoming spot," Eve adds.
Meg and Eve also shouted out some of their fellow Madison musicians playing Daytrotter Downs, like The Hussy and Vanishing Kids.
As far as what's next for the dynamic duo, Meg and Eve say they plan on doing a couple more videos for this album, and they're even releasing an exclusive track on a compilation LP for Record Store Day. "[It's] called the Wisconsin Vinyl Collective. So this LP is gonna be a collective of all Wisconsin artists. The standout ones is the BoDeans and Emperors of Wyoming," Eve says. They also hope to be playing festivals throughout the summer, but for now, check them out on tour. Chicago, Seasaw plays The Beat Kitchen on March 15th. Grab tickets here.