Field Notes Interview #51: Lullatone, Marmoset Band
Music for children ages 1 to 101.
Lullatone is an exploratory music project from husband and wife duo Shawn James Seymour and Yoshimi Tomida. Based in Nagoya, Japan, they make pop songs for all ages. Both playful and sweet, each of their compositions use unique and unusual instrumentation including children's instruments, splashing water and general household sounds.
Blending together snippets of acoustic instruments, with the clutter of electronic bleeps and bloops, they craft some of the most inspiring tapestries of sound. They've worked with the likes of Hello Kitty, write concept albums about going to bed, appear on a Saturday morning children's show in Japan, and their track "Ice Cream Cone Drippings On The Sidewalk" was featured in a recent film from TOMS. A lot of their success has resulted in constantly experimenting with their sound and creating interesting textures that draw people in.
We caught up with Shawn about developing a creative life as a musician, being a parent and how his music takes his family to interesting places.
M: When did you start writing music?
SJS: I started out in high school playing in bands. But, I grew up far away from most of my friends. On days when I was stuck at home, I figured out how to record everything by myself using an old stereo set with 2 cassette decks by overdubbing. When I 17 I saved up all of my money for a used cassette 8 track machine, and my days of playing in a normal band were over for good. I was too excited about experimenting with sounds and studio tricks to think about rehearsals or sound checks anymore!
M: What does a day in the life of a working musician look like for you?
SJS: We usually have at least 2 client custom tracks going on per week. So, those take up about half of the time. Then there is the paperwork side of licenses and emails and stuff for our other tracks which all pay the bill and keep the studio running. But, we also try to spend at least a third of each week working on new stuff for our own projects. We recently finished the fourth installment of our seasons series. (We made an EP celebrating the everyday magic of Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring )
We have 2 kids, so we have to keep on a rather unmusician-ly schedule… I usually get to the studio by 8:30am!
This week we are working on the alarms and bells for a school in Switzerland, and audio ident for tech company, edits to a TV commercial, and wrapping up audio on a sister app to the popular Patatap site we made with Jono Brandel. It never gets boring here.
M: What role do you feel music has in film?
SJS: Music has a special power to express something you can’t see, but the director wants you to feel. The same way that a choice of lens can add a layer of texture, sound can add a new sense of touch.
M: How do you feel your song complimented TOMS film?
SJS: I think (hope) it added a sense of playfulness. That is one of our funnier songs. It never found a space on any of our albums, but I’m glad it found a home here.
One of the nice things about making so many songs (at least a couple new ones a week) and doing this kind of sync work is that you don’t have to be too worried about where to put each track. If it doesn’t fit on an album, maybe someone will come around and adopt it one day later.
M: What are you excited about for the future?
Every single thing!