Sea Oleena is Montreal-based Canadian artist Charlotte Loseth. Charlotte sings in a breathy chime like a down feather falling from the summit of Wǔtái Shān. Clarion keys and tectonic vibrations characterize her music's immersive sound. Her debut full-length album, Shallow, is available as of September the 30th via Lefse Records.
We spoke with Charlotte from her new outpost in Leipzig with the intent of encapsulating her dovish aura. Find it to bathe in if and when you have the opportunity to witness her live performance.
What happened in the most recent dream you had that you can remember?
I was at the theatre with my boyfriend. There was a preview which I recognized as being for a film my ex-boyfriend made. At first I was excited to see it but then realized it was starring me — only, I was much younger, and awkward, and I was a terrible actor. I got very embarrassed and upset and wanted to leave the theatre, but he wanted to stay and watch it.
You've recently delivered yourself to Germany for a spell. Please tell us about that: the why, the how, the accompanying attitudes.
Why: Germany has been delivering itself into my sphere of awareness in the last few years, but more recently, my boyfriend decided to start working on his PhD in a lab in Leipzig and asked if I wanted to accompany him for the few months he'd be there. I couldn't really find any reason why not to, so I accepted the invitation.
How: We planned the dates and bought the tickets and I transferred the lease for my apartment and packed some clothes and all my music gear and we somehow made the flight from Canada to Germany and we somehow made the train from the airport into town. And now we're here.
Accompanying attitudes: For the most part, there's been a general positivity and calm blanketing my experience here, but it's been offset by a deep imbalance that comes from not having the adaptor necessary in order to plug my amp into German outlets.
I'm sure we were both a part
of the same body of water
at some point in history.
You sometimes perform with your brother, Luke, of the band Holobody – both of you are drawn to ambient, peaceful, pleasing sound, both organic and electronic… Would you please give us a vignette of your childhood?
We always had a big piano at home growing up, which our mother was often playing. We were encouraged to take music lessons and to express ourselves through art. As far as some kind of hint as to where the draw toward creating ambient, peaceful music comes from, I think it goes further than just our childhood. I'm sure we were both a part of the same body of water at some point in history.
I could describe your music as ambient, as reverberant, as meditative, but I don't feel that does justice to its clarion prescience, let alone the distinct aura felt during your live performances – listeners may feel all of these things while listening, but what does writing and playing music give to you?
Playing music maintains/restores balance for me. I have a certain quota to fill of getting lost in musical worlds, and so I play the kind of music I can get lost in. There are periods when I'm spending a lot of time listening to music that brings me to these worlds, and during those times I feel less urgent a need to create them for myself. I think that's the real secret here; I'm doing this, ultimately, for myself. The act of writing/recording comes in when I've created something that I feel inspired to share — which really isn't all that often, truthfully — but when I do end up sharing it, I absolutely feel the reciprocal effects, which come back as positivity and love. Really, I make music to experience getting lost, and I share music to experience love.
Do you have a favorite poem? Would you describe it?
My favourite poem describes trees with roots underwater and reaching and reaching deeper and deeper and it makes me think of being nineteen and inspired with eyes just as open as they can possibly be.
I take care not to make music
when I'm holding a lot of
intense energy within myself,
because in my experience
it's not a reliable outlet.
Many musicians I have spoken to before have said writing and performing are "cathartic" processes; that self-expression through art is how they channel feelings of hurt, of pent-up frustration, in a controlled environment. On the contrary, all that I've heard of your music eschews any sense of aggression. What compels you to produce peaceful sound?
My current approach to making music isn't cathartic, but I understand how it can be for others. For me, crying is cathartic, as is walking and biking and laughing and throwing things and breaking things and lying face-down on the floor and writing with a pencil on a piece of paper. I take care not to make music when I'm holding a lot of intense energy within myself, because in my experience it's not a reliable outlet. If I find myself in a state where I need music to calm me down, I listen to Brian Eno. Being at peace compels me to make peaceful music, and I can make peaceful music only if I'm already at peace.
In a word, how do you feel when an audience is inattentive during your set, being that the sound is rather soft?
Since I met you (or even before then) I've been so impressed by your style. Your personal aesthetic suits your music, as well, in its elegant yet stark minimalism. How do you think/feel about external projection of the ineffable internal, that is, "personal style?"
I feel that personal style is exactly what it's called. Everyone's approaching it from their own angle. I've been tending toward minimalism because it feels true for me right now. I know I feel good in a big, formless T-shirt. I know I feel good wearing black or grey or white. I know everything in my wardrobe will feel right, no matter what mood I'm in or what I'm doing, and I don't feel compelled to explore beyond that right now.
How do you function and/or flourish in solitude versus among your preferred people?
I can only flourish among people if I've recently spent time flourishing in solitude. What sets my preferred people apart from others, and what I've come to appreciate most about them, is that they offer me the space to function among them without feeling pressured to flourish.
Where is home?
Wherever I decide it to be.
Are you good at being uncomfortable?
I think I'm getting better at reading my discomfort and acting accordingly.
I can only flourish among people if I've recently spent time flourishing in solitude.
One thing you think most people get wrong about you at first acquaintance:
I honestly have no idea what most people think when they first meet me. I'm sure I sometimes give a stand-offish impression, but it's just because I'm still kind of shy and find a lot of people beautiful and intimidating. I'm growing out of it, though.
Please describe your ideal audience.
Lying on the floor, napping, meditating, astral-traveling, fully asleep, in a coma, in a k-hole, etc.
Do you have a question for whoever is reading this interview?
Are you paying attention to your posture?
When and where may we listen to your new album?
As of September 30th; somewhere on the internet or on a record in your bedroom or on a CD in your car.