The Seshen members are like a big family. You know, the type of family you really, really like. It makes it easy to see why their music moves in such fluid dynamism, a feat considering the dual vocalists and a beat-driven fusion of electronica, hip-hop, R&B and pop. Oakland Local caught up with members of The Seshen — Lalin St. Juste, Akasha Orr, Aki Ehara, Mahesh Rao, Mirza Kopelman and Kumar Butler — at their practice space in El Cerrito to chat before their drummer, Chris Thalmann, arrived for rehearsal.

This past summer The Seshen went on their first tour outside of California. Two years after their first album dropped, and just after signing with the label Tru Throughts last spring, they toured California and moved up through the Pacific Northwest. “It was so much fun,” St. Juste said. “We genuinely love being with each other. We just crack up and get to play music.”

There have been many firsts for the band recently: their first tour, their first Record Store Day release and their first trip to SXSW. While they played only once at this year’s festival, they went for five days and were in awe of the magnitude of the festival.

“It was so amazing just to walk. There was music everywhere,” said Kopelman. “It rained. Aki shared with me the secret of putting plastic bags on your socks and then putting [the bag-and-sock-covered feet] in the shoes. It made my whole entire day livable.” 

Rao quickly chimed in: “Kumar shared the virtues of giving away an umbrella to a pretty girl.”

“His chivalry consisted of taking something from me to give to her,” said Kopelman.

The members of The Seshen highlighted a few bands that impressed them at the festival, including Atlanta’s All Cows Eat Grass, Run The Jewels, Oakland’s The California Honeydrops, and Seshen favorite Hiatus Kaiyote. They like the band so much, they saw them twice during SXSW.

In fact, Hiatus Kaiyote naturally came up three times while we talked. “This is going to sound repetitive,” said Kopelman at one point when talking about how playing with Hiatus Kaiyote was one of the best shows they’ve ever played.

The members of The Seshen also greatly admire Hiatus Kaiyote’s use of pop sensibilities, making their music more accessible.

“It’s nice when songs have hooks. I was talking with a couple friends this weekend and we were talking about Hiatus Kaiyote, and we’re like, this is just straight hardcore jazz fusion and people are really into it. I think it’s because it’s songs and then hooks. It’s accessible, instead of jam band stuff from the ’80s,” said Rao.

The Seshen are approaching their music with similar thoughts in mind. They have been making a move toward more danceable music, taking their cues from the way the audience has responded to their songs.

“Since the beginning there’s been sort of a push towards higher energy, more groove-heavy songs,” said Rao. “just as a natural direction and feedback from gauging people’s responses. That’s sort of where it’s ended up and it’s fun to play higher energy stuff.” 

Aki Ehara noted that their songs are a mix, not just within the songs, but among them. Some are good examples of what would be called electropop, some hip-hop, and some electronic.

The band is not averse to being labeled pop, either. There can be sense with modern usage that pop music is to be taken less seriously than other types of music, but the band believes that maintaing a pop sensibility could be determined simply as being accessible.

It’s clear that The Seshen take music seriously, yet they maintain palpable exuberance — a passionate nerdiness. Exactly the type of family you’d want to gather with and talk music on Thanksgiving, and definitely a band you want to watch to see what’s coming next.

The Seshen
East Lake Music Festival
May 23, 2015
Free with RSVP

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