Serafina Steer – Provides Common Ground – single – out 23/08/2019
From ‘The Mind Is A Trap,’ -Album, out 27/09/2019
Self release in conjunction with Vitamin Concept Records.
PRESS please contact: Luke at onebeatpr.com
++++++ PRESS RELEASE
A solitary glass bead game of an album,” is how English composer Serafina Steer describes her new solo record, The Mind is a Trap. Like the classic novel by Herman Hesse, Steer’s music offers a kind of crystalline grace, richly allusive and strangely utopian.
After several years spent writing and playing bass with all female post-punk trio Bas Jan and the likes of Jarv..is, Trash Kit, John Foxx, Steer felt she needed “a new way to personally interact with music” and reconnect with the harp, an instrument she has played since childhood. Inspired by the likes of Áine O’Dwyer, Rhodri Davies, and the music of Japanese post-modernist composer Tōru Takemitsu, Steer ferreted herself away to a shed in Tottenham and began experimenting with the electric harp, pedals, extended techniques and drum machines. In finishing the record, underground mix/master genius Amir Shoat (Inga Copeland, Carla Del Forno, The Rebel) tightropes perfectly between enhancing sonic richness and retaining raw immediacy.
Listening to first single ‘Provides Common Ground’, a track inspired by an essay about music’s use in conflict resolution, is like slipping into a bubblebath, each diaphanous layer of plucked harp and electronic percussion a balm to the ears and an invitation to drifting.
Serafina shares this track today via a micro collage lyric video made in collaboration with Oliver Marchant, complete with dance, insects and layers of hypnotic, flashing lights.
More about The Mind is a Trap:
The Mind is Trap is a suite of nine compositions in a wide range of styles, from the shimmering minimalism of ‘Time to Recover’, via the expansive electronic tones of opener ‘Whatsmystone’ and the abstract noisescapes of ‘Lapse’, to the almost Pet Shop Boys-ish groove of the title track. The Mind is a Trap takes the deft contrapuntal and conceptual ingenuity of modern classical artists from the Slip Discs and New Amsterdamstables, and combines it with an intimate, DIY sensibility of experimental lo-fi pop artists like Lucky Dragons and Hannah Peel. Bursting with ideas and touched by an obscure sense of mystery, The Mind is a Trap is destined to inspire the same cult-like devotion as Hesse’s own Glass Bead Game.
Serafina Steer has been a significant presence in the capital’s alternative music scene for over a decade. In-between sessions with artists such as Sean O’Hagan (The High Llamas), John T. Gast/Young Druid, Jarvis Cocker, Steve Mackey, Patrick Wolf, Cerys Matthews, Hannah Peel and Rozi Plain, she has produced a string of critically-acclaimed solo albums for Static Caravan and Stolen Recordings.
Swapping the harp for a bass guitar in 2016, she co-founded all female post punk trio Bas Jan who’s debut album ‘Yes I Jan’ (Lost Map Records) was in The Quietus’ top 100 albums of 2018, 9/10 Uncut, 4/5 Mojo- “beautifully fractured art pop”. Whilst working on solo material for The Mind Is A Trap, Steer has also spent much of 2018/19 developing material and performing with former Pulp frontman’s ongoing ensemble project Jarv..is , the first single of which ‘Must I Evolve’ was released May 2019.
The Mind is a Trap, then, represents a return in a number of senses – to harp playing, to her own compositions, and to the more introspective sound of her previous solo albums,The Moths Are Real and Change Is Good, Change Is Good. But it is also a new beginning and a new departure. The Mind is a Trap sees Steer spreading her wings as a composer in multiple bold new directions, at once more filmic, experimental and more pop than any of her previous work. Ideas expand and contract, feeling their way towards new forms. There is a ruminative, uncertain feel to the record. Nothing ever quite resolves; it hovers.“‘The Mind is a Trap’ is something my father said to me after a night in the pub,” Steer says, “when I had gone on and on and around and around my then exasperating and labyrinthine life predicament.” The Mind is a Trap, the album, may not offer any simple answers, a roadmap leading out of the labyrinth, but it certainly provides many fascinating questions.
2. Provides Common Ground
5. The Mind Is A Trap
6. Say What You See
7. Time To Recover
8. Back On The Scene
9. This Is My Emotion
Born 1982 Serafina Steer trained as a harpist at Chetham’s School Of Music and Trinity Laban. A vocalist, classically trained harpist and pianist, Steer’s work resists categorisation, often arising through the juxtaposition of musical disciplines. Having used the harp as her principal tool for many years and three solo albums ( available on the LISTEN page – Cheap Demo Bad Science 2006, Static Caravan/ Change Is Good Change Is Good 2008,Static Caravan/ The Moths Are Real 2012,produced by Jarvis Cocker, Stolen Recordings) In 2013 Steer decided to take her practice in a different direction and started learning the bass guitar by using it to write. She co-founded all female post-punk trio Bas Jan (for more info go to BAS JAN page) in 2016. In January 2018 their debut album ‘Yes I Jan’ was released in February 2018 on independent Scottish label, Lost Map. This album featured the combined production skills of Capitol K, Leafcutter John and Leo Abrahams. “MESSY MAJESTY” said UNCUT a 9/10. “BEAUTIFULLY FRACTURED ART-POP” concurred MOJO, with an accompanying ★★★★’s of rapture. “DAY-TO-DAY STORIES FULL OF UNCANNY POP PUNK MAGIC” , THE QUIETUS. They also released a follow up ‘Instant Nostalgia’ EP in November 2018.
Much of 2018 was also spent developing material and performing with Jarvis Cocker’s new project ‘Jarv..is’ in which she plays electric harp, keyboards and sings. The new ensemble made a mini tour of caves in the UK, California and in Hong Kong. Jarv..is will be performing more dates in summer 2019. You can listen to ‘Must I Evolve’ here
Alongside these projects, being awarded the Paul Hamlyn Composer bursary in 2017 has enabled Steer to develop her production and arrangement skills for TV and film composition which is a creative world she is looking to explore as a composer in her own right. Playwright Afsanah Gray writes of Steer’s soundtrack for her 2017 play ‘Octopus’
”The Octopus soundtrack made the production – its anarchic musical mash-up put the audience in the world of the play before anyone had spoken a word”
Her forthcoming self-produced record- ‘The Mind Is A Trap’ features mainly instrumental compositions and will available for digital download later in 2019. She is also recording her most ambitious compositional project to date- ‘Medea’ (a 30 minute midi opera) devised in collaboration Natalie Sharp (aka Lone Taxidermist). This project was semi-staged for a commission by Manchester International Woman’s Festival and Brighter Sound but has never been recorded.
With Bas Jan, Steer has performed at the BFI, Serpentine Summer Pavillion, Greenman, Wassermusick Festival (Berlin) and Supernormal Festivals, BBC 6 Music Live and Radio 3. Her solo performances include Café Oto, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Salle Pleyel, Paris, End Of The Road Festival, Greenman Festival, Sercret Garden Party. She has completed commissioned work for the Brighter Sound and the Brancage Film Festival. Apart from those mentioned already she has collaborated/recorded with Hannah Peel, Trashkit, Rozi Plain, Meilyr Jones, Chromehoof, John Foxx, Sean O’Hagan, John T.Gast, Cibelle, Patrick Wolf, Simon Bookish, Brains and Hunch. Her (second ever!) remix of Teleman’s ‘Fun Destruction’ is being released on Moshi Moshi in May 2019. Her second album ‘Change is good change is good’ is being re-released on Static Caravan later this year to coincide with the track ‘Day Glo’ being included on an compilation album of Jarvis Cocker’s favourite Sunday Service tracks, released by Ace Records.
If you are interested in hearing Serafina’s soundtrack compositions please get in touch CONTACT