The Soul of Seul
Joe Seul says that the most challenging aspects of being a musician are being heard in the first place and being listened to when heard, but neither of those things stop the one man music scene from doing his thing.
For a long while, Seul performed as Raef, hiding behind a screen of visual stimulation as dancers found the groove to the disparate sounds he put together, fast becoming one of the most original acts to grace Sarasota in a long time. Recently, he has dropped the pseudonym and accepted the reality that people really dig what he does.
“The universe is made of vibrations and music is our word for describing any conscious manipulation of those vibrations,” says Seul. “OM is the sound of the universe, and when I make a racket on a giant sound system, I am putting a dent in the outer expanding circle of the universe.”
He also puts a huge dent in the people that are content to sit by and simply listen to a band perform. With the infectious beats that he creates, largely on the spot with a collection of pre-recorded sounds, people can't help but to get up and shake their groove thing when Seul takes to the stage. Although he says he doesn't do drugs “because they're illegal,” Seul still utilizes a projector to offer up psychedelic images, and says that he has an “old artist friend” (possibly residing somewhere in his cerebral cortex) that has enjoyed a variety of consciousness changing panaceas. Nevertheless, his music has come to stand on it's own, a drug in itself for those who take to the dance floor wherever he performs.
“I have always loved music,” he says. “I imagine my earliest musical influence was my mother's heartbeat, but my first actual memory of the joy of music was listening to the Beach Boys with my siblings in my early childhood. Once I realized that there was nothing stopping me from creating the same kind of joy, I dove right in.”
Not one to limit himself to any distinctive genre, Seul says he gets much more out of simply pushing himself to maintain a cohesive and continuously improving and expanding sonic quality. As each show is impressively unique, the Artist Formerly Known as Raef seems to be making quite a good go of it. But it's not always easy to do in the Sarasota scene.
“Sarasota is an incredible place to create any kind of art,” says Seul. “Sharing that art can be a different story. It's the perfect place to sit down and write a song, but when it comes time to get up on a stage and play the song, you might find that your artistic peers are all at home busy writing their own songs.”
To make the most of the music scene in what some still call “The Creative Coast,” Seul says we need to keep pushing more of the good and less of the bad. Paying bands what they're worth, paying quality sound engineers, giving props to the local talent who have expanded nationally, and supporting the writers who care about the scene are the good things we need to cultivate, while greedy venue owners, battling bands, the noise ordinance, and the millennial malaise are bad things that we need to find a way to get through. Overall, Seul says that we just need to get over our fears of being what we're truly capable of becoming.
“Fear is the worst thing in the world,” he says. “Together, we will overcome. Everything is connected, and it is this way for a reason. You can do anything you set your mind to.”