Cristobal and the Sea’s effervescent debut album is the sound of the world — a fusion of Bossa nova, Afro-pop, and Western folk and rock that reflects the diversity of band’s line-up.
It’s a veritable EU, with each member playing an integral part to the melting pot that is ‘Sugar Now’.
Leïla Seguin, from Corsica, sings and plays the flute. “It’s an instrument that’s struggled to become popular in indie and pop bands,” she says, “so I’m happy to contribute making this instrument more visible. I also think the sound of it is quite magical.”
There’s Portugal’s João Seixas. “I just happen to be the guy who plays the guitar, so I guess what I bring to the band is the way in which I play it — I don’t know if it’s very original, though,” the singer explains humbly.
Spainiard Alejandro ‘Ale’ Romero is on bass on vocals. “The guitar is my preferred instrument, but someone had to play bass, as João is a much more skilled guitar player than me,” he offers.
“Before Cristobal, I’d never played the bass in my life, so I guess some of the stuff I come up with can be overly melodic, because of the guitar influence, for good or bad. I am very naive in the way I play my instrument, because of sheer lack of knowledge, which sometimes leads to some happy sounding accidents.”
And rounding out the London-based collective is UK drummer Joshua Oldershaw. “At the beginning I brought along some much needed non-continentalism,” he grins, “then I added some rhythms over the top of what were already pretty much fully formed songs. And now, due to the level of freedom that the guys give me, I spend most of my time worrying about whether I should be playing less, actually, and thinking about ways of making rhythms that are economical. Although this usually fails because I’m a showoff.”
Ignore Oldershaw’s self-deprecating comments: there’s nothing out of place in Cristobal and the Sea’s joyous sound. There’s nothing forced or contrived either — and with good reason.
“We’re all good friends and are used to spending a lot of time together,” reveals Seixas. “I like how natural and comfortable it is.”
“What I like about playing with the other three is our musical and human connections that make the collaboration really easy and fun,” adds Seguin, who has played music with Seixas and Romero for several years.
“Josh fitted so naturally into the equation from the very beginning,” continues Romero. “When we play music, we don’t step on each others’ shoes too much, which is what makes the process so much fun.”
Oldershaw concurs. “Playing with everybody is pretty easy; I mean, as we go further and further into being a professional band, and seeing other bands and their habits, we’re having to think a lot more and be much more attuned to the processes of how we write the music and stuff,” he continues.
“Although we’re never forgetting that the main aim is to not take things too seriously, else you just become bogged down in your own brain and get sad.”
There’s certainly no time for sadness on ‘Sugar Now’ — or in the memories the band members have of the albums that changed their lives.
Leila Seguin: Laura Pausini – ‘E Ritorno Da Te’
“Although it doesn’t really reflect my musical taste today, this is a really important album for me. It reminds me of really special moments I shared with my dad when I was young. We used to play this album all the time after school — me singing, him playing piano — and it’s at that time that I really got into singing and performing.”
João Seixas: Black Dice – ‘Creature Comforts’
“A beautiful, strange record. It just showed me that there are many ways in which you can do music. I think Genesis P Orridge once said that if you do your own thing, it won’t sound like anything else. How could it? If it does, it’s because you’re not doing your own thing. it’s a bit of an exaggerated take — what you do must necessarily come from somewhere — but it’s a point worth considering.”
Ale Romero: Serge Gainsbourg – ‘Histoire de Melody Nelson’
“This was one of the first albums I truly fell in love with. As a music piece it is so inspiring, although it’s barely 30 minutes long. It introduced me to the idea of concept albums, and it made me genuinely feel intrigued about everything surrounding the record, not just the music. It felt special, unlike anything else I’d ever listened to before, and it came at a time when I was first writing music with João.”
Josh Oldershaw: Tool – ‘Lateralus’
“I picked this purely because it wasn’t until I went through that superbly intense phase of only listening to Tool for about four months that I’d ever experienced the overwhelming sensation of essentially having a toned-down orgasm purely from the sound of the music itself — known by excessive Tool fans as ‘toolgasms’.
“I don’t know, Tool don’t reflect my wider music taste at all now really, but it was the first glimpse into the ether really, of knowing what’s possible through music when you really connect.”
- Connect with Cristobal and the Sea when they play Scala in London on 25 November 2015. See their full tour schedule here.