Interview with See-I
We caught See-I the last time they were in town to funk up the crowd at Union Transfer and now they are back (with support from Thunderball, Fort Knox Five, and Rob Paine) to play a killer show at The Blockley this Thursday night. We were eager to find out a little more about Rootz and Zeebo Steele, the brothers behind the See-I sound, before catching their show again.
Independent Philly: Who came up with the name See-I?
See-I: We came up with it together, it was a joint collaboration. We don’t always see eye to eye on everything, but on this we did. It was a moment of true brotherly cooperation. See-I, I See. The All Seeing Eye. Eye See All.
IP: What made you decide to finally record an album after years and years of touring and playing shows?
SI: It was just the right time on all fronts. We took a few years to build up our home studio, learn the equipment and found a great engineer, Enea Diotauiti to work with. We made a bunch of music in the 1990’s and even released a few EPs in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. We actually put an album together before, with a different band. That band fell apart and that music no longer represented our sound. But starting in 2005 the current See-I band formed together, locked it in and a new See-I sound was born. Then we assembled the studio, learned the gear, teamed up with Enea and spent most of 2009 and 2010 working on this album.
IP: How has the album been received since it was released last summer?
SI: We thank Jah continually for how well people have liked the album. We weren’t sure at first, you never know really. It’s a creative, artistic endeavor. It comes from our hearts and its in our language. So if people don’t get it, we are not surprised. but thankfully people got it, they loved it and they seem to keep listening to it. The radio stations have been playing it, the fans have loved it and we have even got some exciting licensing opportunities from it. For example, Haterz 24/7 is featured on NBA2K12 video game! We love that. And then in late fall the See-I Remixed album came out and that breathed all new life into the album. The Remixes have done really well and they range the spectrum, its a really exciting project and we are proud of all of them.
IP: Does the fact that you are brothers ever make it more difficult to spend so much time together, or is it just an added bonus?
SI: It’s an added bonus. We are the Ying to each others’ Yang. Night and darkness. Up an down. We couldn’t be happier working together and we stick together on stage, in the studio, on the road – both with See-I and Thievery Corporation.
IP: What musicians/singers (living) would you most like to collaborate with that you’ve never had a chance to?
SI: Hard question to answer, but if George Clinton would like to work on some new tracks together that would be the biggest honor!
IP: What can our readers expect from a live See-I show if they’ve never seen one before?
SI: It’s a party!! Come to have a good time. Bring your friends, or make new ones there. We have a residency in DC every Wednesday night and we like to think of it as church. It’s fellowship. We sing, we clap, we stomp our feet. We dance, get sweaty and spread a positive vibe, and absorb one from each other. We like to meet new people every Wednesday and give our good friends a hug. A See-I show will lift your spirits and get you through the week or any hard time. So dress comfortably, wear your dancing shoes, and get ready to party. We come to party (It ain’t illegal yet)!
IP: How about live shows from Thunderball and Fort Knox Five?
SI: Well see it’s like a big family. Both of us, Rootz and Zee, have recorded and performed with both Thunderball and Fort Knox Five. So if you pick up their albums, you will hear a few tracks that feature us, and we love it. Working with those guys is great. They are one of our inspirations in the studio and we are signed with their Fort Knox Recordings label. We cannot always go out and perform with them due to our See-I touring schedule and Thievery Corporation too, but playing with them is always a lot of fun and if you can see Thunderball or Fort Knox Five in your area, get to that show, those guys always play brand new music and break musical barriers.
IP: What’s the biggest rumor you’ve heard associated with Reggae that you’d like to dispel?
SI: We don’t pay attention to rumors or spread rumors. But Reggae itself is much bigger, more different, and diverse than people realize. When you listen to our style of Reggae you will hear funk, soul, blues and even rock influences. In fact, our music may not even be Reggae and we’re okay with that. Some folks just need to open up their minds and not worry about labels, titles, terms, and genres. Music is music, its a living breathing thing that grows, develops and changes. Let it grow…and grow along with it.
IP: What music are you guys listening to these days?
SI: Parliament, P-Funk!! James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Sly and the Family Stone.
IP: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen at one of your shows?
SI: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
IP: Want to give a shout out to Philly before your show here on Thursday night?
SI: Yes Philly, we love ya!! Ya can’t get hurt, Selassie I Protect ya, seen. We give thanks for all of the great fans, people, and massive in the entire Philly Metro Area. And extra special big ups to Lee Mayjahs and the PEX Massive for all the support. We have a close brother and family member in Philadelphia, and that is Rob Paine and the Solomonic Sound System – these guys are the best! Respect.
IP: Tell us something that would surprise, or even shock our readers…
SI: We are all one. One Love. One Aim. One Destiny. Oneness is the answer.
We hope you’ll join us at The Blockley on Thursday night for the party that is See-I. We’re giving away 2 pairs of tickets to the show which you can win by ENTERING HERE. You can purchase tickets by CLICKING HERE.