Serafina Steer

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@JuliaMascetti it was really kind of you thanks again. & @SonicImperfecti we had a great time X


Biography

It’s a suitably sunny day when Serafina Steer (or Sefa for short) calls to discuss her brilliant, breakthrough, third album The Moths Are Real.

As we go into the garden, to talk and drink tea, the Harp playing, multi instrumental Sefa admits she’s tired answering certain questions.
“Like – ‘how heavy is the Harp?’

“Do boys get asked how heavy their guitars are?” she wonders.
The point is well taken - from its tremulous opening notes the harp is certainly a recurring feature of The Moths Are Real.
Yet it is never an earthbound ‘how will I get this up the stairs?’ burden but rather an ... Read more

It’s a suitably sunny day when Serafina Steer (or Sefa for short) calls to discuss her brilliant, breakthrough, third album The Moths Are Real.

As we go into the garden, to talk and drink tea, the Harp playing, multi instrumental Sefa admits she’s tired answering certain questions.
“Like – ‘how heavy is the Harp?’

“Do boys get asked how heavy their guitars are?” she wonders.
The point is well taken - from its tremulous opening notes the harp is certainly a recurring feature of The Moths Are Real.
Yet it is never an earthbound ‘how will I get this up the stairs?’ burden but rather an instrument of celestial and water-borne wonder.
Like the moths, the talent of the Peckham-born and raised, Steer is most certainly real.
First fully exposed on her Cheap Demo Bad Science 2006 album debut and brought further into focus on 2010 follow up Change Is Good Change Is Good (favourited by Jarvis Cocker, given 5 Stars in a Mojo review) Serafina’s talent is now beautifully nurtured , ocean deep.
The new album’s bold arrangements and bewitching soundscapes (organs, nose flutes, sequencers and more) are a contrast to Serafinas sometime live performing incarnation, accompanying herself on the harp while dressed in her blue Pantomime Rabbit suit.
But the fascinating, febrile minded and often funny songs remain a common link.
Unassuming yet mesmerizing on Moths her musical know how and compositional daring thrives. The songs are palpably intimate (Skinny Dippy) , joyfully adventurous (Island Odessy) and ominously animated (Alien Invasion).
Since Change Serafina’s often been a shimmering sideline presence - a harpist for hire with Cocker, on the experimental folk route with Mike Lindsay and Tuung, a traveler on the analogue synth highway in UK electronic pioneer John Foxx’s backing band.
But, all the while, she has been working up to something big - Moths presents the substantial bounty from her toil.
Cleverly challenging Cocker to put his previously expressed high regard to the test Serafina asked the Pulp icon/ Radio DJ to produce the album.
“I had met him a few times but when I felt I should open out to people I thought what would be really cool would be if Jarvis would produce my album. So I wrote to him.”
Thus honoured what gentleman could refuse? Jarvis did not falter.
As Sefa’s shimmering presence takes centrestage Cocker adds ideas and enables but never imposes.
His reward is a production credit on one of the most exalted and ravishing albums of the year.
The thrilling musical journey begins with tentative rivulets of harpstring drifting into the found sound of the sea.
The waves gently take hold and constraints are off as a steady pulsing rhythm brokers a shaded area, between wake and reverie.
Serafina’s soft , searching voice, sees a reflection of herself as “the wide open sea” beckons, its depth conjured by a lower octave string arrangement, counterpointing the harp flow.
Music and water, it’s a big area. Can you Handel it? Start with Steve Miller’s Sailor, carouse with a Pogues sea shanty, or two , take a trip up Joni’s River …But nothing quite prepares for the awed, gossamer threaded magic of Night Before Mutiny.
This appears fitting : I first met Serafina when she was leading the way to the dancefloor after a screening of Around Cape Horn, a short, water-filled 1929 documentary, filmed aboard one of the last big Clipper voyages.
The first song she ever wrote was set by a stream, the first track on the first album she released was By A River by Brian Eno.
What’s with all the water, Sefa?
“Its weird I have a funny thing about the ocean. Lately I’ve been swimming in the sea, in Italy because I had a John Foxx gig.
“ I got quite far out but couldn’t look under water, I find the idea of what’s underneath when you get quite far out scary.
“There’s lots of archetypes there.”
Indeed. Did you ever have a goldfish?
“I did but I was never very good at looking after it. I had a rabbit too - but that died.”
Her earliest musical memory is a Christmas party at an opera singers house in North West London.
“Everybody would do a party piece. I remember attentively watching someone sing a song and picking all the raisins from a mince pie as he was struggling with it.”
Later came outings to see classics performed in all their mind stretching grandeur.
“Contemporary music , really my dad writes music no one really listens to - so it was being taken to very long impenetrable concerts.
“Stuff I now think is amazing - like Messiaen, who wrote quartets when he was in a concentration camp.”
But it wasn’t until she reached her early 20s that the chasm between the material she played as a First Class Honours and String Faculty Silver Medallist at Trinity College London and the music she preferred listening to away from study, really opened up.
“It became unbearable. When I went to college I had a boyfriend who was a drummer and played in bands and stuff and everyone was writing and improvising.
“All my friends were doing that and as soon as I started writing songs it all changed.”
On Moths Sefa’s dance Genie comes into its own on the simply gorgeous Disco Compilation and in the nervvy breakdowns (pun possibly intended) that feature in the boisterous, darkly imposing Removal Man.
Who would he be, exactly?
“Let’s not go into that.”
Do you send your songs to your therapist?
“I don’t have one.”
Although she admits she sometimes gets “really sick” of the harp, Serafina was traumatized when she had an earlier, large, heavyweight string’d companion stolen , when she left it in her car after a gig, before recording Change.
“Id already made a claim the previous year - when a drunk librarian had knocked it over at a gig and it got £9,000 worth of damage.
“So it was investigated when it was stolen under a year later. I just went to pieces.”
Change Is Good was made quickly - on the replacement harp she eventually received. But for Moths Serafina has had more time to develop her ideas and ambitions.
“Id got into this idea of expanding,” she explains.
“I felt the only way things could evolve or get better was if I could open up and trust people more.
“I was listening to lots of Alice Coltrane and I loved her Art Ensemble of Chicago style arrangements - the tone of authority really stuck with me.
“And all her songs have epic titles – like Messiaen would have - grand open things, but done with such an integrity that it’s just not bullshit - you can really get into these higher ideas.”
Thus emboldened there was no reasons why she shouldn’t use personal experience as a gateway to these embrace higher ideas in her own music.
Machine Room with its pyschedelic ringing Moog segue (played by The Flying Lizards David Cunningham) is a striking actualization of Alice’s transformation ethos into 3 minute pop song form.
Ballad Of Brick Lane is far from a simple Boho hangout referral buffed by balmy Eagles Desperado era harmonies into a faltering haltering apprehension of time’s melt, loves frailty. With its double tracked lead vocal the chanson inflected Has Anyone Ever Liked You? , Lady Fortune with its spiraling Jew’s Harp accompanied vocal and the shape shifting Skinny Dippy are all further evidence of Sefas querulous singular gifts.
“If I wanted to make something that wasn’t just me being sad in the bedroom, and still not feel like I was writing happy songs to make people like me, I knew I would have to open up as a person.
“I always want music to take me out of time
“That’s just how it has to be,” She asserts.
When she first came to the world outside classical music Serafina feels she was ‘bolshy’. Living through her 20s soon wore that tendency down and now, as her 30s come up on the wide open horizon, Serafina’s musical voyage looks ever more enticing.
Never mind the harp’s weight and measure, time to dive in and sample her aural treasure..

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

It’s a suitably sunny day when Serafina Steer (or Sefa for short) calls to discuss her brilliant, breakthrough, third album The Moths Are Real.

As we go into the garden, to talk and drink tea, the Harp playing, multi instrumental Sefa admits she’s tired answering certain questions.
“Like – ‘how heavy is the Harp?’

“Do boys get asked how heavy their guitars are?” she wonders.
The point is well taken - from its tremulous opening notes the harp is certainly a recurring feature of The Moths Are Real.
Yet it is never an earthbound ‘how will I get this up the stairs?’ burden but rather an instrument of celestial and water-borne wonder.
Like the moths, the talent of the Peckham-born and raised, Steer is most certainly real.
First fully exposed on her Cheap Demo Bad Science 2006 album debut and brought further into focus on 2010 follow up Change Is Good Change Is Good (favourited by Jarvis Cocker, given 5 Stars in a Mojo review) Serafina’s talent is now beautifully nurtured , ocean deep.
The new album’s bold arrangements and bewitching soundscapes (organs, nose flutes, sequencers and more) are a contrast to Serafinas sometime live performing incarnation, accompanying herself on the harp while dressed in her blue Pantomime Rabbit suit.
But the fascinating, febrile minded and often funny songs remain a common link.
Unassuming yet mesmerizing on Moths her musical know how and compositional daring thrives. The songs are palpably intimate (Skinny Dippy) , joyfully adventurous (Island Odessy) and ominously animated (Alien Invasion).
Since Change Serafina’s often been a shimmering sideline presence - a harpist for hire with Cocker, on the experimental folk route with Mike Lindsay and Tuung, a traveler on the analogue synth highway in UK electronic pioneer John Foxx’s backing band.
But, all the while, she has been working up to something big - Moths presents the substantial bounty from her toil.
Cleverly challenging Cocker to put his previously expressed high regard to the test Serafina asked the Pulp icon/ Radio DJ to produce the album.
“I had met him a few times but when I felt I should open out to people I thought what would be really cool would be if Jarvis would produce my album. So I wrote to him.”
Thus honoured what gentleman could refuse? Jarvis did not falter.
As Sefa’s shimmering presence takes centrestage Cocker adds ideas and enables but never imposes.
His reward is a production credit on one of the most exalted and ravishing albums of the year.
The thrilling musical journey begins with tentative rivulets of harpstring drifting into the found sound of the sea.
The waves gently take hold and constraints are off as a steady pulsing rhythm brokers a shaded area, between wake and reverie.
Serafina’s soft , searching voice, sees a reflection of herself as “the wide open sea” beckons, its depth conjured by a lower octave string arrangement, counterpointing the harp flow.
Music and water, it’s a big area. Can you Handel it? Start with Steve Miller’s Sailor, carouse with a Pogues sea shanty, or two , take a trip up Joni’s River …But nothing quite prepares for the awed, gossamer threaded magic of Night Before Mutiny.
This appears fitting : I first met Serafina when she was leading the way to the dancefloor after a screening of Around Cape Horn, a short, water-filled 1929 documentary, filmed aboard one of the last big Clipper voyages.
The first song she ever wrote was set by a stream, the first track on the first album she released was By A River by Brian Eno.
What’s with all the water, Sefa?
“Its weird I have a funny thing about the ocean. Lately I’ve been swimming in the sea, in Italy because I had a John Foxx gig.
“ I got quite far out but couldn’t look under water, I find the idea of what’s underneath when you get quite far out scary.
“There’s lots of archetypes there.”
Indeed. Did you ever have a goldfish?
“I did but I was never very good at looking after it. I had a rabbit too - but that died.”
Her earliest musical memory is a Christmas party at an opera singers house in North West London.
“Everybody would do a party piece. I remember attentively watching someone sing a song and picking all the raisins from a mince pie as he was struggling with it.”
Later came outings to see classics performed in all their mind stretching grandeur.
“Contemporary music , really my dad writes music no one really listens to - so it was being taken to very long impenetrable concerts.
“Stuff I now think is amazing - like Messiaen, who wrote quartets when he was in a concentration camp.”
But it wasn’t until she reached her early 20s that the chasm between the material she played as a First Class Honours and String Faculty Silver Medallist at Trinity College London and the music she preferred listening to away from study, really opened up.
“It became unbearable. When I went to college I had a boyfriend who was a drummer and played in bands and stuff and everyone was writing and improvising.
“All my friends were doing that and as soon as I started writing songs it all changed.”
On Moths Sefa’s dance Genie comes into its own on the simply gorgeous Disco Compilation and in the nervvy breakdowns (pun possibly intended) that feature in the boisterous, darkly imposing Removal Man.
Who would he be, exactly?
“Let’s not go into that.”
Do you send your songs to your therapist?
“I don’t have one.”
Although she admits she sometimes gets “really sick” of the harp, Serafina was traumatized when she had an earlier, large, heavyweight string’d companion stolen , when she left it in her car after a gig, before recording Change.
“Id already made a claim the previous year - when a drunk librarian had knocked it over at a gig and it got £9,000 worth of damage.
“So it was investigated when it was stolen under a year later. I just went to pieces.”
Change Is Good was made quickly - on the replacement harp she eventually received. But for Moths Serafina has had more time to develop her ideas and ambitions.
“Id got into this idea of expanding,” she explains.
“I felt the only way things could evolve or get better was if I could open up and trust people more.
“I was listening to lots of Alice Coltrane and I loved her Art Ensemble of Chicago style arrangements - the tone of authority really stuck with me.
“And all her songs have epic titles – like Messiaen would have - grand open things, but done with such an integrity that it’s just not bullshit - you can really get into these higher ideas.”
Thus emboldened there was no reasons why she shouldn’t use personal experience as a gateway to these embrace higher ideas in her own music.
Machine Room with its pyschedelic ringing Moog segue (played by The Flying Lizards David Cunningham) is a striking actualization of Alice’s transformation ethos into 3 minute pop song form.
Ballad Of Brick Lane is far from a simple Boho hangout referral buffed by balmy Eagles Desperado era harmonies into a faltering haltering apprehension of time’s melt, loves frailty. With its double tracked lead vocal the chanson inflected Has Anyone Ever Liked You? , Lady Fortune with its spiraling Jew’s Harp accompanied vocal and the shape shifting Skinny Dippy are all further evidence of Sefas querulous singular gifts.
“If I wanted to make something that wasn’t just me being sad in the bedroom, and still not feel like I was writing happy songs to make people like me, I knew I would have to open up as a person.
“I always want music to take me out of time
“That’s just how it has to be,” She asserts.
When she first came to the world outside classical music Serafina feels she was ‘bolshy’. Living through her 20s soon wore that tendency down and now, as her 30s come up on the wide open horizon, Serafina’s musical voyage looks ever more enticing.
Never mind the harp’s weight and measure, time to dive in and sample her aural treasure..

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

It’s a suitably sunny day when Serafina Steer (or Sefa for short) calls to discuss her brilliant, breakthrough, third album The Moths Are Real.

As we go into the garden, to talk and drink tea, the Harp playing, multi instrumental Sefa admits she’s tired answering certain questions.
“Like – ‘how heavy is the Harp?’

“Do boys get asked how heavy their guitars are?” she wonders.
The point is well taken - from its tremulous opening notes the harp is certainly a recurring feature of The Moths Are Real.
Yet it is never an earthbound ‘how will I get this up the stairs?’ burden but rather an instrument of celestial and water-borne wonder.
Like the moths, the talent of the Peckham-born and raised, Steer is most certainly real.
First fully exposed on her Cheap Demo Bad Science 2006 album debut and brought further into focus on 2010 follow up Change Is Good Change Is Good (favourited by Jarvis Cocker, given 5 Stars in a Mojo review) Serafina’s talent is now beautifully nurtured , ocean deep.
The new album’s bold arrangements and bewitching soundscapes (organs, nose flutes, sequencers and more) are a contrast to Serafinas sometime live performing incarnation, accompanying herself on the harp while dressed in her blue Pantomime Rabbit suit.
But the fascinating, febrile minded and often funny songs remain a common link.
Unassuming yet mesmerizing on Moths her musical know how and compositional daring thrives. The songs are palpably intimate (Skinny Dippy) , joyfully adventurous (Island Odessy) and ominously animated (Alien Invasion).
Since Change Serafina’s often been a shimmering sideline presence - a harpist for hire with Cocker, on the experimental folk route with Mike Lindsay and Tuung, a traveler on the analogue synth highway in UK electronic pioneer John Foxx’s backing band.
But, all the while, she has been working up to something big - Moths presents the substantial bounty from her toil.
Cleverly challenging Cocker to put his previously expressed high regard to the test Serafina asked the Pulp icon/ Radio DJ to produce the album.
“I had met him a few times but when I felt I should open out to people I thought what would be really cool would be if Jarvis would produce my album. So I wrote to him.”
Thus honoured what gentleman could refuse? Jarvis did not falter.
As Sefa’s shimmering presence takes centrestage Cocker adds ideas and enables but never imposes.
His reward is a production credit on one of the most exalted and ravishing albums of the year.
The thrilling musical journey begins with tentative rivulets of harpstring drifting into the found sound of the sea.
The waves gently take hold and constraints are off as a steady pulsing rhythm brokers a shaded area, between wake and reverie.
Serafina’s soft , searching voice, sees a reflection of herself as “the wide open sea” beckons, its depth conjured by a lower octave string arrangement, counterpointing the harp flow.
Music and water, it’s a big area. Can you Handel it? Start with Steve Miller’s Sailor, carouse with a Pogues sea shanty, or two , take a trip up Joni’s River …But nothing quite prepares for the awed, gossamer threaded magic of Night Before Mutiny.
This appears fitting : I first met Serafina when she was leading the way to the dancefloor after a screening of Around Cape Horn, a short, water-filled 1929 documentary, filmed aboard one of the last big Clipper voyages.
The first song she ever wrote was set by a stream, the first track on the first album she released was By A River by Brian Eno.
What’s with all the water, Sefa?
“Its weird I have a funny thing about the ocean. Lately I’ve been swimming in the sea, in Italy because I had a John Foxx gig.
“ I got quite far out but couldn’t look under water, I find the idea of what’s underneath when you get quite far out scary.
“There’s lots of archetypes there.”
Indeed. Did you ever have a goldfish?
“I did but I was never very good at looking after it. I had a rabbit too - but that died.”
Her earliest musical memory is a Christmas party at an opera singers house in North West London.
“Everybody would do a party piece. I remember attentively watching someone sing a song and picking all the raisins from a mince pie as he was struggling with it.”
Later came outings to see classics performed in all their mind stretching grandeur.
“Contemporary music , really my dad writes music no one really listens to - so it was being taken to very long impenetrable concerts.
“Stuff I now think is amazing - like Messiaen, who wrote quartets when he was in a concentration camp.”
But it wasn’t until she reached her early 20s that the chasm between the material she played as a First Class Honours and String Faculty Silver Medallist at Trinity College London and the music she preferred listening to away from study, really opened up.
“It became unbearable. When I went to college I had a boyfriend who was a drummer and played in bands and stuff and everyone was writing and improvising.
“All my friends were doing that and as soon as I started writing songs it all changed.”
On Moths Sefa’s dance Genie comes into its own on the simply gorgeous Disco Compilation and in the nervvy breakdowns (pun possibly intended) that feature in the boisterous, darkly imposing Removal Man.
Who would he be, exactly?
“Let’s not go into that.”
Do you send your songs to your therapist?
“I don’t have one.”
Although she admits she sometimes gets “really sick” of the harp, Serafina was traumatized when she had an earlier, large, heavyweight string’d companion stolen , when she left it in her car after a gig, before recording Change.
“Id already made a claim the previous year - when a drunk librarian had knocked it over at a gig and it got £9,000 worth of damage.
“So it was investigated when it was stolen under a year later. I just went to pieces.”
Change Is Good was made quickly - on the replacement harp she eventually received. But for Moths Serafina has had more time to develop her ideas and ambitions.
“Id got into this idea of expanding,” she explains.
“I felt the only way things could evolve or get better was if I could open up and trust people more.
“I was listening to lots of Alice Coltrane and I loved her Art Ensemble of Chicago style arrangements - the tone of authority really stuck with me.
“And all her songs have epic titles – like Messiaen would have - grand open things, but done with such an integrity that it’s just not bullshit - you can really get into these higher ideas.”
Thus emboldened there was no reasons why she shouldn’t use personal experience as a gateway to these embrace higher ideas in her own music.
Machine Room with its pyschedelic ringing Moog segue (played by The Flying Lizards David Cunningham) is a striking actualization of Alice’s transformation ethos into 3 minute pop song form.
Ballad Of Brick Lane is far from a simple Boho hangout referral buffed by balmy Eagles Desperado era harmonies into a faltering haltering apprehension of time’s melt, loves frailty. With its double tracked lead vocal the chanson inflected Has Anyone Ever Liked You? , Lady Fortune with its spiraling Jew’s Harp accompanied vocal and the shape shifting Skinny Dippy are all further evidence of Sefas querulous singular gifts.
“If I wanted to make something that wasn’t just me being sad in the bedroom, and still not feel like I was writing happy songs to make people like me, I knew I would have to open up as a person.
“I always want music to take me out of time
“That’s just how it has to be,” She asserts.
When she first came to the world outside classical music Serafina feels she was ‘bolshy’. Living through her 20s soon wore that tendency down and now, as her 30s come up on the wide open horizon, Serafina’s musical voyage looks ever more enticing.
Never mind the harp’s weight and measure, time to dive in and sample her aural treasure..

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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