Musician Seth Glier Finds Inspiration in Unexpected Places
Sep 14, 2017 04:00PM ● Published by Nicole Gould
Photo by GMD Three
When putting together an album, artists can find inspiration from the unlikeliest of places. For Grammy nominated singer/songwriter, Seth Glier, that inspiration was his brother…and birds.
The Massachusetts native recently released his newest album, Birds, which follows the success of If I Could Change One Thing released in 2015.
“The process started when my brother passed away from autism. I was his legal guardian, so my life was involved with his care. After he passed I had a ton more time and I needed to find an outlet. My brother was thirty years old and his passing was random, it was like I had an emotional vacancy. I didn’t want his passing to be over. I wanted it to be meaningful. I began to talk to birds that came to my window sill because my brother’s nickname was ‘Bird.’ I didn’t feel weird at all because I felt like the birds were my brother’s spirit.” -Seth Glier
Glier uses his musical talent to give listeners insight to the issues Americans are facing today. This can be heard in his newest single, “Water On Fire,” which confronts today’s controversy of fracking, exploring the falsehood between freedom and capitalism. “Justice For All,” challenges the death penalty while “For What It’s Worth,” is a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s protest song.
Throughout the 11-song track list, Glier expresses a virtuoso use of emotions from grief and loss to strength and optimism.
Catch Glier on Thursday, September 21st, 8 p.m. in the Stoltz Listening room at the Avalon Theatre as part of his headlining tour through the U.S. Tickets are $25.
Can you tell me more about your single “Water On Fire?” Within the track you speak about today's controversy of fracking and the underlying damages that result from it. What was your main objective in exploring the falsehood between freedom and capitalism?
My main objective was to unpack this line that everyone has taken as Americans. What is good for the country isn’t always what’s good for people. It’s an exploitation of land and we’re at a tipping point. The song started from a place of feeling powerless and voiceless. The song also came about from a conversation that I had with an old friend in Oklahoma where he talked about the different struggles because of fracking.
As an artist who focuses on humanity and politics, what is your ultimate goal when you release a track or album that speaks volumes to you personally? How do you feel your music reaches your audience?
I do my best to explain my intentions. That’s the wonderful thing about songs is that it’s so much different than other art forms. When I go into a museum, I abandon my own reality to understand the painting. It’s an experience that seeks into a place of objectivity. With music, I believe it seeks into the conscious and I want that state of music to become a part of others’ lives.
When you were studying at the Berkley School of Music, what gave you the final push to leave the largest college of contemporary music just after one year to pursue your career?
Two things really played a part in my decision. In that first year of school I was just writing songs constantly, a lot of elastic bands being stretched, and that’s when I started to feel very confident in my voice as a writer.
When I was 11 years old, I was always mesmerized about what happens when an artist steps on stage and performs and what actually happens on stage. As I thought about those things, it was like, why wait and finish out the last three years of school? I knew that I would do a lot better just riding down the street in my car and getting my voice heard.
Most songwriters are inspired by other artists, but you took to the music industry being inspired by poetry and other things. Can you explain how outside experiences in your life have molded you to be the writer that you are today?
I was inspired by found sound. I love to walk around abandoned buildings or car graves with my stick and see what music I hear. Music is in everything and everything has a unique sound.
In the music industry, it’s very common for artists to stay up to date with the latest trend or write songs for a hit single without any passion. Can you explain the importance you place into connecting with your audience instead of chasing the newest trend?
I feel connected with my audience, which allows for a creative freedom. I love pop music, very catchy music, and music should never be demeaning. The connection with my audience allows me to bring up tough topics like the death penalty, spirituality, fracking, and I can feel safe saying it.
I feel like I have 10 years of a relationship with my audience and they don’t have to agree with everything that I say, they just give me the freedom to express myself and have a voice.
Who would be your ideal artist to collaborate with and why?
Harry Partch would be my ideal artist to collaborate with. He invented instruments that were so different than what we are used to. I love how different and dangerous his music sounded. Harry chose to change the way music sounded and I loved that.
Your new album Birds has a taste of grief, resilience, darkness, and empowerment. Can you explain the album and major events that contributed to the configuration of the album?
The process started when my brother passed away from autism. I was his legal guardian, so my life was involved with his care. After he passed I had a ton more time and I needed to find an outlet. My brother was thirty years old and his passing was random; it was like I had an emotional vacancy.
I didn’t want his passing to be over. I wanted it to be meaningful. I began to talk to birds that came to my window sill because my brother’s nickname was “Bird.” I didn’t feel weird at all because I felt like the birds were my brother’s spirit.
Of course, I never received an answer from them, but over time my questions started to change. I started to ask them if there was a connection between them and my brother. I would also ask them for melodies and I felt like they were singing back and connecting with me. It was more of an outlet for my grief.