An Interview with Seasaw
Meg and Eve talk Feminism, The Wisconsin Vinyl Collective, and their new song “Party”.
I recently got the opportunity to chat with the two young ladies of Seasaw, Eve Wilczewski and Meg Golz. This Madison-based duo has morphed indie-rock and pop together to form a new and unique style. I recently heard that their new song titled “Party” will actually be released through the Wisconsin Vinyl Collective on Record Store Day! The reason this project stuck out to me was the intention behind it of raising money for the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund. When Alt Philanthropy came across this, we knew we had to have a chat with Seasaw to find out more about who they are and what exactly they are up to.
Ramisha Sattar: Hey there! My names Ramisha and I’m here with Alt Philanthropy!
Eve Wilczewski: Hi I’m Eve!
Meg Golz: And I’m Meg!
Ramisha: I have a bit of questions about your music, your new single, “Party”, and social issues! To start us off, could you tell us a bit of background about Seasaw and how you became a band?
Eve: Sure! Meg and I met in Freeport, Illinois! I had just finished college but I hadn’t gotten a full time job yet so I was working at a restaurant. Meg was actually in between schools and she was gonna start going to school in Madison, but she wasn’t quite there yet. We didn’t know each other before hand or go to highschool together or anything, as we are six years apart. We just happened to meet at the right time and place. We got to talking at that restaurant and realized we were both interested in the same things. Meg was a musician in a band with her brother already and she was very outgoing so she invited me to play music with her. We started to get together and do things and write. I think our first show was in Freeport at a coffee shop. The rest is history!
Ramisha: That’s awesome! So you guys actually are in Madison right now, not Illinois. How would you guys say the Wisconsin music scene has impacted you guys? I haven’t heard as much about the Madison scene as I have for places like Nashville and Austin, so I’m kinda curious to hear what that’s like!
Meg: I would say the Madison music scene has been very warm and welcoming for us, and has given us a lot of opportunities. Even with the variety and different styles within the music scene, the entire community is very collaborative and everybody really wants to help eachother out.
Ramisha: That is really helpful, especially when moving to a new city! So how would you say your new single has evolved or grown in comparison to your LP, Too Much of a Good Thing?
Meg; I wouldn’t say that it has necessary evolved. Too Much of a Good Thing just came out last summer so we are still working that album and sharing that album with our community of listeners! In fact, “Party” was actually a track that we recorded for the album but decided not to include because it didn’t quite fit with the flow. However we still really loved the song and it was special to both of us, so we still wanted to save the song and do something with it. When we were offered the opportunity to be apart of the Wisconsin Vinyl Collective, this song happened to be a very good fit for the project!
Ramisha: Definitely! This is a very good project to be involved with! I actually read that the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund has raised thirty-million-dollars for people in need and have helped to avert homelessness and energy crisis! How does it feel to be able to have the chance to be involved in things like this?
Eve: Having the opportunity to help with philanthropic projects like this is really nice because going into music I didn’t really notice how many fundraising efforts we would get to participate in. We’ve probably done about ten different benefits this year already, and we have a couple more coming up! It's nice that we are able to give back to important causes and that our music can help reach more people and bring charities and issues like this to people’s attention. A lot of people probably weren’t aware of the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund so if we can just make more people aware, that’s the littlest thing we could do. If I hadn’t been a part of Seasaw, I wouldn’t be able to be apart of this. Building awareness is just one cool thing that we are able to do. I would say we have such a big scene of people who care about things like social justice. Madison is a hotspot for that.
Ramisha: I totally agree! it's really important to use whatever platform you have to help others, whether you are talking about someone with as little as 100 followers on Twitter, or someone that’s a music artist like you guys! Being in a band gives you so many more opportunities to help out in different ways, and I think it’s great that you guys are taking advantage of that! So what are some other social issues you feel strongly about?
Eve: We’ve written songs about and been a part of a vast array of events. Songwriting wise we’ve recently written about economic based issues that we are facing while graduating and becoming a part of the working public as young adults. We’ve also written a few songs about environmental issues we see. I was a board member of the Audubon Society society for a while so I am really involved in prairie restoration in northwest Illinois. I got really interested in the disappearing genetic diversity in Illinois. There was less than one one-hundredth of one percent of prairie life that should’ve been around. I think being apart of the Audubon Society definitely gave me material and inspiration to write about and made me aware of my own presence. There is other things I’ve personally written about because of my background coming from a family where my mom is a therapist, like drug and alcohol abuse. I come from a family where we’ve had a lot of these struggles so that’s something that I’m influenced on as well!
Meg: I definitely think that some of my songwriting is influenced by the scene of our environment. Eve has actually encouraged me to be more aware of that over our relationship in six years, so a lot of my inspiration has came from her strong viewpoints on the subject and the things I've learned from her. A lot of my writing focuses on mental illness and how there's still not really a good way for people to get the help they need when they're struggling. I’m really passionate about trying to find a way to get that more accessible to the people who need it.
Eve: Meg and I, we are definitely feminists. Feminism is a core to our writing and how we perform. Meg DIY-ed our album and we are super self reliant! I think that’s also something we are both passionate about, being independent! Working as a team to bring a different kinda’ music and energy to what we’re doing is another piece of it.
Ramisha: Do you guys ever get treated differently for being two young girls in the music industry? In Alt Philanthropy, we are a majority of girls and are seventeen or eighteen or maybe even sixteen! Often times when we go backstage to conduct interviews with bands, we aren’t taken seriously because of our age and gender. We have witnessed how men can be treated superior to women in the music industry. Have you guys ever dealt with these similar issues?
Meg: I engineered our album and have a lot of practice in sound and audio engineering, however as u were saying I still notice that in certain situations when I have an opinion or suggestion on how to run a microphone or what ways to set up our instruments, it does feel like I’m not taken seriously. If you don’t dwell on these situations, it's not as prominent, but it’s definitely noticeable.
Eve: There are a lot of teachable moments. For example, these sound engineers assume Meg and I don’t have a know-how about what we are doing, so when they realize we are fully capable, they learn that they shouldn’t have made that assumption to begin with. People shouldn’t be making rash opinions based off of anyone’s gender. I think that’s part of it. We’ve also noticed having advantages in certain situations as well. However, one unfortunate thing I’ve noticed is how lacking the female presence in festivals are. In those situations, I wanna show up, i wanna be present. But, I also wonder who is booking these fests in the first place when it’s eighty percent men and maybe only ten percent female presences. It can be really disheartening.
Ramisha: That actually reminds me of an article I saw on Buzzfeed in which they took a Coachella lineup and erased every band except for female fronted acts. The lineup only remained without about 25 bands! There is barely any female representation, and when there is, it's usually in a band alongside men. Female bands or solo artists are usually quite rare, or so they seem, but that also adds to the uniqueness of a band. That's what makes them more special and empowering!
Eve: I agree! It's rare to see a band that’s all girls, but we look at is like an advantage.
Ramisha: Exactly! Another benefit is that it makes a band more inspiring and relatable to young teenage girls! Having role models to look up to and music written from a female’s perspective is easily a plus. Are there any particular women you look up to for inspiration when writing music?
Meg: A musician that influences my confidence would be Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. She is an extremely strong and confident woman who cares a lot about many social justice issues and isn’t afraid to be a powerful woman in music. I think she’s done a lot of really incredible things throughout her career, both with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and as a solo artist. Her passion and again, her confidence, are really inspiring to me!
Eve: My main musical inspiration for songwriting is a Native American artist named Buffy Sainte-Marie who is now in her seventies. She began as a folk artist in the sixties. She is so outspoken about the American Indian Movement (AIM), and about being an Anti-vietnam-war activist that she was blacklisted and her music wasn’t allowed to be played on the radio. She made so many albums and had grammy success with other people singing her songs without even knowing that Buffy Sainte-Marie wrote them. She’s had such a prolific career and she’s still making music up till today. She was at the Anti-Iraq-war protest a few years back and she sang an amazing poem over a loudspeaker. Her music ranges from beautiful love songs to huge orchestrated and almost rock n’ roll protest songs. She’s very vibrant and constantly cranking out amazing music. She does a lot of teaching too still and she’s written curriculums for schools about Native American teachings. She’s just an awesome role model in so many ways.
Ramisha: She sounds really cool! I will be sure to check out her music. So what do you guys want your music to convey to your audience? Is there a certain message u want to get across?
Eve: That’s a great question! I think that if there is any one message, it would be that if you dream it, you can create it. I’ve played music since second grade, but I never thought I would be in a band and get the opportunity to be on something like the Wisconsin Vinyl Collective. I guess I’m conveying that we are making art in so many different ways … our videos, our music, our poetry. It feels good to be living this right now and it's not something I ever expected. If someone else can take this joy and be inspired to wanna make art, I guess that’s what is most important to us.
Ramisha: What were your reactions to the 2016 election?
Meg: Speechless is what we both are! It definitely wasn't the outcome I or Eve had hoped for, but it is inspiring to see how many people around me and across the world are coming together to try and make things better by endlessly speaking out and rallying. It's sad but inspiring.
Ramisha: I agree with you on that! It was really inspiring seeing all the protests bringing thousands of people in random cities across the world together as a whole. It’s relieving to know that not everybody shares the hateful mentalities that have been really evident in others after the elections. It's broughten out good and bad in people.
Meg: Yes! I think people are still in shock because so many awful things keep happening. It’s not like, “Oh! That one awful thing happened and now it's back to normal”. It’s been a wild rollercoaster and I think people myself included are just trying to catch our breath. Everyone gonna be exhausted after these next four years because so much funding is being cut for things. Everybody is gonna have to be more involved in the things they care about because the government is no longer taking care of the things that are protecting people and the environment. It's gonna be a time for people to get way more involved than they have been in years past. Like you said, it can be a positive thing. Hopefully people keep putting in the energy. It's just that everyone is so tired. It worries me. We are already so short on time.
Ramisha: Exactly! Every choice we make and they make makes a big difference. None of this is taken lightly because these aren’t tiny decisions that they are making. Defunding programs like Planned Parenthood isn’t gonna just affect a handful of people, it's gonna affect the majority of our population. Planned Parenthood not only helps women, but they also promote good health and testing for stds and cancer for everyone.
Eve: Very shortsighted things are happening and we're gonna have to fight for what we believe in.
Ramisha: What can we expect from you guys in the next year? Do you have any goals or things planned?
Meg: This summer we’ve got some festivals and summer shows planned. We are hopefully gonna take some time to start our long process of creating another album. Who knows when that will be ready, but at least we will be starting that process.
Ramisha: We look forward to that! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us! We wish you the best of luck!
Eve and Meg: Thank you!