Catching up with Sean J O’Neill

Hailing from Australia and the most isolated city in the world, Perth, Sean creates music that pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a singer-songwriter. With influences ranging from Sufjan Stevens, Brian Eno and being constantly compared to acts such as Bon Iver, Sigur Ros and Fleet Foxes. ‘I’m Here’ is an intimate, diverse journey into the world of one of alternative music’s most exciting artists. We caught up with Sean about his release, his music and much more:

Hey Sean, how are you doing?

Been doing pretty well. Currently in Perth working on some new material and have enjoyed seeing how these singles will come together for live shows later this year. My second single, Vienna, will be out on Friday which is exciting. Have also been busy collaborating on a few releases for friends.

Tell us about ‘I’m Here’:

It was finished over a year ago. And even then, it was slowly worked on over a long period of time. The beauty of having a set up at home is that you don’t need to rush the recording and production process. Over time I thought up new ideas that could be added to the piece and was able to go back to it and (hopefully) improve it. There’s over 100 separate recorded tracks on it with a huge range of instruments such as organ, synths, trumpet, trombone, cello, flute, guitar, loads of percussion, clarinet and more. Some great local musicians from Perth helped out with a few of the instruments that I couldn’t play myself such as trumpet and trombone etc.

What inspired the release? 

This piece is kind of a big mash up of a huge number of artists and styles that have influenced me over the years, from sacred music composers, film scores, various traditional music from around the world, to the real boundary pushing acts of contemporary music like Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver. The composition was also influenced heavily by my practice in meditation and the certain moods and feelings I hope to achieve within my listeners. An announcer from Triple J in Aus put it nicely saying it’s “a bush walk without a map.”

Who do you look up to in life and in music?

People from any field who have discipline, focus and strong work ethic. Specifically relating to music, I tend to gravitate towards musicians who continuously try to re-invent themselves.  

If you could have written any song what would it have been?

Te Deum by Arvo Part.

Where do you see yourself this time next year?

Looks like I’ll be scoring a documentary series set all over Western Australia. I also hope to have a bunch of new music out by then and lets hope tours are on the cards.