His is iconic; it’s apart of his demeanor, his stage poise and presence; it’s a part of the energy that makes you want to head bang the second he begins to do so. It falls; it covers his face almost as if he can’t see anything, yet he continues to seduce the audience with his deep, dark, and mysterious beats. My long pink hair sways back and forth with his and, strangely, I feel more at peace than ever before.
It was a night I had waited almost year for. The cancellation of Electric Zoo’s last day had prevented Seven Lions from playing here in New York, and now he was back. The Grand Ballroom at Webster Hall began to fill as Tommie Sunshine preceded with almost a 2-hour set, hyping up the crowd with his consistently energetic tracks. Surprisingly, he even threw down a remix of Jack U, Jungle Bae, which was released less than a week prior.
Gold-lettered mylar balloons spelling out “Seven Lions” floated on one side of the balcony and “Casablanca” on the other. This would be Jeff’s second EP release on Casablanca Records and the anticipation, on all ends, was through the roof. Earlier in the night I had the chance to chat with him and now I was about to see all of his words play out. The place fell silent, the stage fell black and without hesitation, a beaming white light from behind outlined his silhouette and The Throes of Winter began to play.
Throwing some progressive beats into the mix at first, he played out each of the six tracks he was there to debut. A beautiful short-haired blonde woman in a long black dress took the stage and The End began to play. This must be HALIENE, the woman I’ve heard seduce my ear drums for the past week via iPod. I undoubtedly started to sing every lyric along with her, taking time to bounce to the melody at the opportune moments.
Not much later a male vocalist had now taken the stage. Being an AFI fan back in high school, I knew this wasn’t Davey so it had to be Sombear. As one of the more upbeat track on The Throes of Winter, A Way to Say Goodbye got the crowd on their feet, rocking out to every note. He then sent us into a time warp by playing some of his older tracks such as Days to Come, Myon and Shane 54, strangers, and remix of Above and Beyond, You Gotta Go.
Toward the end of his set was when the final, and best, surprise came. Like rain droplets pinging a lake, the intro to December began and lead singer of AFI, Davey Havok took the stage. The crowd went absolutely insane. My first though: “How did I miss him in the green-room earlier?!” More head banging over the balcony edge ensued and I was in an absolute state of euphoria.
Seven Lions went on to spin the rest of his tracks on stage alone and ended with the filthy Dubstep we all knew was bottled up inside. At one point, as I stood in a trance, a guy walks up to me and says, “This guy is fucking beautiful” and all I could do was nod and continue to stare.
So, first off, why New York for the EP release party?
I’d say it’s a mix of having the label here and because E Zoo got canceled. I feel like I needed to play. We’ve been talking about playing in New York for a while now so it just all came together.
The Throes of Winter has an intro and outro that are very classical sounding. Can you explain that a little bit?
Yeah. I downloaded this synth called cinematic strings and I’ve always been into Classical music and I just wanted to make a really cool intro and outro. The intro is actually the melody from “December” kind of reimagined and the outro is the melody from ‘A Way To Say Goodbye’ kind of reimagined because I wanted to make something a little extra. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with those track right away I just knew I wanted to reimagine those songs into something cinematic and more listenable on people’s downtime.
Without the lyrics like on every other track.
Exactly. If you listen to ‘December’ and then listed to ‘The Throes of Winter’ right after you’ll hear some of the same melodies. I mean, it goes in a lot of different directions but it’s the main theme of it is ‘December.’
Speaking of December, it has the very recognizable vocals of Davey Havok. Did you listen to AFI when you were growing up?
Fuck yeah. My screen name was AFireInside; my AIM screen name. So, yes. AFI was huge. I used to draw all their album covers too. I would re-draw them and put them in my binder. You know back in the day when you had those binders…
With the clear covers!
And everyone would put pictures and things in there.
Yeah. So that was AFI in my binder.
So then how does it feel to work with him now after being such a fan when you were younger?
It’s surreal. I never thought that would happen and now that it has happened, it feels so logical and it makes so much sense. I mean, it’s just bizarre.
How did it happen?
So, I had the instrumental and I thought, ‘This song is probably going to be an instrumental because I can’t imagine who would really work on this.’ And the label was like, ‘Well, ya know, Davey from AFI is into electronic music. What do you think about him trying it out?’ I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s insane. I don’t know if he’d be interested but let’s reach out.’ Then, he sent back a demo that was insane so we went down to LA, tracked it, and worked with him. It turns out we’re both into industrial music and we used to go to those shows all the time so we’ve kind of been in the same circle.
You grew up in LA right? Or in Southern California?
Yeah, Southern California. But I lived up in Oakland for a little while, around the same time he did. When I was in college I was up in Oakland and we were going to the same clubs at the same time.
With a title like The Throes of Winter, the somber track names, and listening through it, this kind of sounds like a story of lost love. Can you explain where the emotion behind this EP comes from?
Well, everyone experiences loss in a different ways. I mainly focus on the melody and how the music makes me feel and let the vocalists come up with the lyrics. Like ‘December’ was called December before it went out. ‘A Way to Say Goodbye’ came back as A Way to Say Goodbye. At first.. I’m not a lyricist at all. I mean, I have a set of rules. Like, when I work with a vocalist I’ll say, ‘hey, it needs to be within these kind of boundaries that make it timeless.’ I don’t want it to have anything to do with like, ‘Hey, let’s party tonight’ or anything that has to do with 2015.
None of your tracks are like that though. They’re all pretty timeless.
Yeah, because I wouldn’t let that happen. So, other than that I just let the vocalists come up with their own lyrics.
Are there any tracks that didn’t make the cut that will be released as singled later this year?
*smirks but stays quiet*
You can’t say?
Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, well, yes. It won’t be a single but I would say there might possibly be another… if The Throes of Winter is the throes of winter then there are also other seasons.
So a sequel then?
Alrighty then. So, out there tonight you’re going to play the whole EP, obviously, but what else are you going to throw our way?
Yeah, I’ll play a lot of older stuff. I think I’ll focus on the darker stuff tonight.
Great, well I’m excited to hear it! See you out there!