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Neo-Folk S. Carey

The multi-instrumentalist from American indie-folk group Bon Iver branches out for his solo career

Probably still best known for being a quiet and facially hirsute third of neo-folk tribe Bon Iver, Sean Carey has branched out - with more than respectable response – toward the limelight with his solo album ‘All We Grow’ adding fuel to the fire that Jagjaguwar Records are already spreading with their impressive indie roster. Hailing from the mid-west and peddling new & exciting variations on the folk theme, they’re tackling ground previously dominated by Saddle Creek; if they continue the way they’re going, it’s safe to say they’ll be giving them a run for their money. But before he heads off on tour, or considers assisting in Jag’s world domination, Sean takes some time out to talk to Dazed Digital about dreams of Brian Eno, The Tallest Man on Earth and why his music isn’t a million miles away from that of Bon Iver.

Dazed Digital: Sean… actually, that seems like a good place to start: Why S. Carey? Why not Sean Carey?
S. Carey: No real reason; it just seemed right. Plus its kind of cool that it includes the S. Careys of my family - my sister, cousin, dad, and uncle are all S. Careys.

DD: The album has a certain feel to it from start to finish, is that something you aimed for? Is there something you were trying to get across in particular?
S. Carey: Yes. I wanted to write songs with simple melodies and form, but put them together in a way that was unique and interesting. I wanted the songs to weave in and out of ambient sections, improvised sections, and minimalist textures in a way that enhanced the songs into journeys, rather than just verse, chorus, etc.

DD: You’re still in the realms of lo-fi new folk with this release - are you worried this project isn’t removed enough from Bon Iver or was that a conscious choice? 
S. Carey: I just wrote the music that I wanted to; music that I felt was a part of me that I wanted to share.  I didn't really care what genre people were going to call it. 

DD: Is there a concern at all that people might just think of it as an extension or your previous work? Bon Iver’s slightly grittier cousin, maybe…
S. Carey: Obviously I am influenced by Justin's music. It's so fresh and heartfelt.  I think S. Carey and Bon Iver really complement each other - cousins, brothers, what ever you want to call it.  We're definitely related and we spend a lot of time together, but I think my music walks on its own two legs.

DD: So, was ‘All We Grow’ music you felt you had to put out there when you were writing it or a conscious effort to really make a name for yourself as something other than ‘the guy with the moustache from Bon Iver’?
S. Carey: No, it wasn't for recognition. It was more on a personal level - feeling the need to be creative.  The songs didn't have expectation, but eventually formed into an album that I wanted to share.

DD: And you’re touring with The Tallest Man On Earth - he’s getting noticed more and more at the moment – was he someone you were looking to work with?
S. Carey: Yes. He has such an extraordinary sound and style of singing and I really connect with his songwriting... so yeah, this will be an inspiring tour.

DD: Is there anyone else you’re keen to tour or collaborate with? Even though it’s still kind of ‘folky’, your record has an odd affinity with drum machines and synthetic noise – someone from that world, maybe?
S. Carey: My Brightest Diamond... Brian Eno (I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but I can dream… right?)

DD: So, what now? Post-tour, I mean. Do you kick back and ride the wave or is there more in the pipeline for you?
S. Carey: We are planning on being very busy this fall and next spring so watch out for more dates!