There are big things afoot for Sea Girls. Having packed out many a festival set over the past year or so, they’re newly signed to Polydor Records, have just dropped a new single (‘Damage Done’, about “young love and moving on”), and announced a headline tour planned for the end of the year (album time, guys?!?!???!). We caught up with vocalist Henry Camamile and drummer Oli Khan on the ground at Live At Leeds to see how they’re doing.
Hey! We’re pretty surprised you’ve got the time to talk to us considering the festival season you’re having – when was the last time you had a break?
Henry: It’s been two weeks solid, getting in about five hours of sleep a night. I listen to the Calm app a lot, lots of Stephen Fry podcasts.
Oli: We’re coping okay, surprisingly so! Maybe we’re past the good point, and now we’re slightly psychotic.
Being on tour involves a lot of suppressed excitement before the show in the evening – what do you do to kill time?
Henry: We do interviews! Have a chat, have a beer, play some music. We forgot to bring our speaker today which is gutting, but lots of music off phones.
Oli: We always play a bunch of energetic music. We used to play ‘How Soon Is Now’ before every gig to get things going.
Any guilty pleasures?
Henry: If you like a song, you like a song, I don’t even know what I’d describe as guilty. I bloody love Darude Sandstorm, cracking walk-on music.
Oli: I love a bit of Girls Aloud. I like the promise, it’s musically adept and if you think about it doesn’t really have a chorus, just these great sections. A good catchy song, it shouldn’t matter what it is.
Henry: I love a bit of Frank Sinatra, but that’s not really guilty either.
Oli: You’re just a man of impeccable taste.
Let’s talk about the single – talk us through the writing process, whats the track about?
Henry: It’s called ‘Damage Done’, and I guess it’s about a certain set of circumstances. Some of my favourite things to write about are reminiscences of something I used to really care about. These little thoughts will just pop up, and I just started thinking about my first love and what that was like, and at the same time, how it ended. The song is kind of about leaving that young love below.
Was it a whirlwind romance?
Henry: It was a beautiful occasion! First break ups are always bad ones, but the song is about being optimistic about the future and deciding not to get stuck in the past. You don’t want to get stuck anywhere in life. So it’s just nostalgic about that, remembering that summer. When you’re young you feel things so strongly, and everything feels so important, but this song is about going c’mon Henry, stop getting all hung up on the past’. There’s a line in it ‘I’m talking to myself again’ which is kind of a nod to the idea of why am I bothered if this person hears it, I’m trying to make an excuse for myself within the song. I’m obviously over it now, but it’s tapping into those old emotions. It’s lovingly approached, and I enjoyed looking at the rose-tinted parts of it, it’s not a diss track. Save that for the album!
So we can expect full-scale vengeance on the record?
Oli: I’d hope not! It’d be nice to have that full spectrum on the record, but we’re very much still in the working stages. I’m excited to get to the point where we have all these songs and can start thinking about how they flow together. I’d say we’re about three quarters written, but only one quarter recorded.
Henry: It could very easily be three times written by this point, but we’re in the middle of a big set of recording now which is great. It’s been a bit of a challenge staying calm about it and thinking rationally about what songs complement each other and not running away with yourself.
Oli: It’s hard thinking about the songs that you know might not make the cut, it’s obviously a huge amount of emotional investment, so I’m sure those final decisions are going to be hard. But we’re all each other cheerleaders. If Rory writes a good song I’m like fuck yeah, let’s get it on the record, go go go, we need to record this now.
Let’s talk about your signing to Polydor – you must be absolutely over the moon. How did this all come about?
Oli: They basically just came to lots of gigs, said ‘do you want a record deal’ and we said ‘fuck yes’! That was the top and bottom of it. They’re just the best people; we were looking through their roster and what impressed us was just the calibre of the people they work with and the ones they have killing it at the moment – Sam Fender who we absolutely love, Billie Eilish, Grace Carter… and then like The Who and The Rolling Stones, I mean, it’s wild. We knew it was the right fit because everyone we met with, they share our vision – they don’t want to mess with who we are, they just want to enhance it. We’ve got this far on our own, so it’s just about lifting things. Even as kids, you feel like Polydor is absolutely the one. I’ve whipped it out a few times already like ‘look, mum, I’m in a real band!’
Has music always been the only career for you?
Oli: Until a week ago I worked in a restaurant and did that for like five years, so I guess I already had another career. But it felt amazing to leave and know that I didn’t have to look at burgers anymore.
Henry: It’s the only thing I’ve ever actually wanted to do. At school, I never really took anything careers-wise seriously, but you feel a bit embarrassed saying that you want to write songs and be in a band. But what else is there to do except give it a go? People seem to like it, and we managed to come through with some songs we liked quite fast like ‘Call Me Out’, and it started to feel like something we could do. The faith was always there.
Oli: There have been a few years of struggle to get to this point, but then you find yourself lying in the bath replying to people’s tweets, and you have to think to yourself, shit, this is my job. It’s definitely a cool feeling.
And it’s very important that you do take those baths because you’ve got a long summer of festival ahead of you. Which shows are you most excited about?
Oli: It’s mad, we’re doing at least 25. We’ve never played Europe before, and we’re going to Russia with Foals which is just crazy, all these places we would never have seen without the band. It’s great returning to festivals too and seeing yourself climbing slowly up the bill – it’s something you can measure and makes for a milestone moment. This Live at Leeds is the first time we’ve had our logo on a poster and not just our name which feels massive. Another thing to show your mum!
Henry: Reading & Leeds, Neighbourhood, Truck, Community… they’re all up there for me. I’m so excited to see Foals, Wolf Alice, Billie Eilish, her show looks insane. And bumping into all our festival pals as well is a bit like summer camp – WhenYoung and Anteros, we saw them like every week last summer, so it’ll be fun to hang out again. We don’t really get much downtime, but it’s all mad and so much fun, you kind of can’t stop to take it in or you just get a bit self-conscious.
It’s time for the most important question of our chat, and in the spirit of the new festival dating app, it’s about finding love in the fields. Imagine that ‘Band Tinder’ was a thing; what would Sea Girls bio be?
Oli: ‘Here for a good time, not a long time’. Nailed it.
Henry: Oh, everyone seems to have theirs as like ‘love watching Louis Theroux, going for walks’, don’t they? What was it I was saying yesterday? ‘Don’t get it right, get it done’. That’d do it!
Sea Girls will play Truck (26th-28th July), Reading & Leeds (23rd-25th August) and more this summer. Their new single ‘Damage Done’ is out now.
Words: Jenessa Williams