Seth Glier discusses legendary songwriter John Prine, “Till Further Notice,” creating in a time of uncertainty, and how he plans to give back to other musicians.
Seth Glier’s enchanting music and masterful storytelling make him a captivating artist on the rise. A singer, songwriter, and producer as well as multi-instrumentalist, his astonishing talent knows no bounds, and his critically acclaimed work speaks for itself.
His latest single “Til Further Notice” is accompanied by a live video release. The video was shot recently in our time of quarantine, and it’s just him and a piano highlighting his impressive and dazzling vocal tone. The highly emotive track was written after the shocking news of legendary songwriter John Prine’s death due to COVID-19. “Til Further Notice” details the struggles we all face in this time of indefinite uncertainty and the great impact it has on our lives.
With stunning lyrics like “all of humanity is searching for sanity”, he perfectly captures the way we are all feeling as we try our best to navigate through the craziness. Proceeds from the sale of “Til Further Notice” benefit the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.
Glier has played alongside many notable artists such as Ani DiFranco, Martin Sexton, and James Taylor. His work is inspired by traditional roots music and is eccentric yet intellectual. Glier’s powerful arrangements and striking voice take listeners on a deep journey of soul and heart.
Atwood Magazine spoke with Glier recently, getting insight into the track and how he’s going about the pandemic. Get the info in our exclusive interview!
Listen: “Til Further Notice” – Seth Glier
A CONVERSATION WITH SETH GLIER
Atwood Magazine: So you were prompted to write your track “Til Further Notice” after learning the news of John Prine’s tragic death due to coronavirus. What did John Prine’s music mean to you?
Seth Glier: Actually I started writing “Til Further Notice” after hearing about his diagnosis a week earlier. For me, John Prine’s music was the summation of the human condition itself. He could go from serious to seriously funny in a matter of syllables. As an ongoing student of songwriting Prine is the ultimate example of word equity.
I use the lyrics to Sam Stone when I’m teaching a songwriting class. “There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes.” There is not a single word in that line that doesn’t have to be there. His writing was tight, sharp, and remained sweet. It’s what I strive to accomplish in my own!
You kept your song minimal with just a simple piano melody and emotive, warm vocals creating a truly poignant release. What was your process like in crafting the song and what made you decide to make your visuals be just you at the piano?
Seth Glier: I think all of our lives have become more minimal. I wanted the song to reflect that both lyrically and emotionally. Also, I was thinking of Prine and trying to eliminate all the artifice that most of our music is cluttered with. Mine too from time to time.
You mentioned your song title “Til Further Notice” are words we have been hearing a lot lately in this time of the unknown, yet out of the uncertainty comes hope. What words of hope can you share with our readers?
Seth Glier: The birds are still chirping. Stars that haven’t been seen in quite a while, even in places that don’t usually get stars, are shining through the darkness and unveiling themselves as our human haze temporarily eases. Dolphins are in the canals. There is a great restoring all around us and I feel that vibrating through me. That doesn’t mean I am without fear or heartache for the world.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel the pain that we are all enduring right now. When my parents divorced I spend a lot of time asking the question “when are things going to get back to normal?” In the absents of an answer, I started asking better quality questions and reevaluating what “normal” was in the first place.
Reevaluation requires a certain slowness but I find being forced into asking better questions is an extremely hopeful place. It’s where imagination meets planning.
How do you hope people listen to “Til Further Notice” and what message can they take away from it?
Seth Glier: I hope that you find comfort in this song and a sense that you are not alone in this feeling of isolation. I’m here too, with you, from afar.
I understand you wear many hats such as singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. How are you able to juggle all of this?
Seth Glier: I don’t really look at it as many hats, more as a continuation of origin. In all the roles I will play my job is still to take care of the song. If I don’t do that the whole things fall apart no matter how good the singing, playing, or production might be. Losing objectivity is my greatest challenge when spending so much time with a piece of work in these multiple roles but I don’t look at production as something separate from any of the other aspects and vice versa.
Your wistful voice and masterful storytelling shine through your music. What artists do you yourself look up to?
Seth Glier: I love Harry Nilsson and his singing style very much influences my approach on “Til Further Notice.” I love the great American songbook, Woody Guthrie, and Randy Newman.
How did you get involved with Sweet Relief Musicians Fund? Why did you decide to have all your proceeds benefit that impactful cause?
Seth Glier: Like many musicians, I make about 90% of my income from live touring and COVID19 has shut down that revenue stream. Sweet Relief was the first organization to give me some help and I look at this as returning the favor. I’m very grateful towards my record label, MPress Records, who have also allowed this to happen and are hosting a livestream with my label mates to support the cause.
Besides writing and performing music at home, what else are you doing to keep sane during this pandemic?
Seth Glier: I’m having a blast hosting what I’m calling “Pandemic Parties” on my Patreon page. Each week I pick a new theme and fill it with music, comedy, and hope for an hour. It’s been such a wonderful way to stay connected with my incredible fans and I find the playing of music to really keep me sane during social distancing.
I’m also using this opportunity to collaborate with musicians from around the world and create some content for the US State Department. Music, like a virus, knows no border and is contagious to anyone in its proximity. I’m currently making something with a drummer from Mongolia right now and another song with a horn section from Mexico.
Your songs fuse folk and pop music. What drew you to those genres?
Seth Glier: When I was 10 years old my dad gave me two records for my birthday. Joni Mitchell’s Blue and Janet Jackson’s “Velvet Rope.” I’ve spent the last 20 years trying to unpack that gift. I think the folk music traditions of storytelling, addressing inequality, & songs of social justice are in fact popular ideas. I think our pop music, at least in America, fails to recognize a world that is more complicated than getting ready to party on a Friday night. Look, I love pop music, I just want the lyrics to be better.
You are a prolific writer and have created many stunning releases. Besides “Til Further Notice” what other tracks have you put out that are very meaningful to you?
Seth Glier: I’m so excited to share this new music I’m working on currently! Definitely some new directions and territories. I think every day I’m getting more clarity on what I want to say, both sonically and lyrically. I’m itching to release a piano ep actually. Hoping to carve out some time to focus on that soon. I feel like that’s the truest place for me. My core.
So I know you have been doing pandemic parties. Do you have any upcoming live stream performances?
Seth Glier: This Saturday I’m doing my label’s livestream at 4:30 on Facebook and all the proceeds from that are also going to support Sweet Relief Musicians fund. It’s also cover night on my Pandemic Party later that evening so I’m trying to learn a bunch of Beyoncé songs this week.
On the topic of live streams, are there other artists that you have been tuning into that you enjoy?
Seth Glier: I’m watching Tall Heights right now, they’re so good and I love having their music wash over my afternoon. I liked Anthony Da Costa’s a few days ago too. There are so many. It’s like having a festival in your pocket.
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