"The Beauty in This..."


"The Beauty in This..."

"Lounging around with Sam Prekop"

"The Frosting on the Cake"

"Let them Eat Cake"

"Indie-pop brainchild reflects on sight, sound & the world around".

"It’s almost an accident how I got into the music scene, actually. I grew up thinking that I would surround myself in a creative environment, but not necessarily ’band-specific.’ I just started this thing in school on a whim and the whole thing took off from there."

Singer/songwriter, Sam Prekop, still has a hard time believing that this "thing" worked out so well. With five albums to date, the Chicago-based band The Sea and Cake has helped pave the way for a musical genre that is rapidly being termed "post-rock." Armed with local cohorts snatched up from other bands such as Tortoise, their music resonates with a lush, sumptuous sound that is both delicate and expansive. With their coffeehouse coolness and softly seductive arrangements, they drop in and out of genres, ultimately meshing pop sensibilities, jazz and ambient expression. Their latest endeavor, entitled Oui, is no exception to the rule. Breezy vocals drift between meticulously-produced arrangements and guitar-woven charm. Spatterings of percussion stabilize the structure, anchoring the grooves in a trance. And yet, throughout the spiraling movement, their sound flows with a natural and obvious progression.

The son of two artists himself, Prekop is a graduate of the Art Institute in Chicago, where he pursued painting. "It was a wonderful experience, really. You tend to come across people who are very open-ended towards trying new things. Hooking up with individuals sharing similar ideas came very easy for me."

Although nowadays, getting the foursome in a room together is a juggling act in itself. Besides each of the members performing on-and-off in a number of other bands, most maintain other forms of artistic expression such as painting or design. "You know, I’m of the opinion that each record directly reflects what we’re all into at the time," Prekop claims, in an attempt to capture their eight-year history. "It changes as we change... as we tend to diversify our tastes, so does our sound." In general, Prekop thinks that this is one of the key qualities helping to define their sound and musical philosophy.

"When we get together to write, there are all of these individual vibes happening. It’s like, because we all participate in these other projects, we each bring something unique to the table. But like anything else, it’s the fusion of these elements that creates something new. I mean, we didn’t go out and try to make a straight jazz album, or a Brazilian record. It’s not that deliberate. It’s a completely collaborative process. Nothing comes out sounding the way it went in.

From song to song, a freshness resurges; calling to mind a sort of spontaneous, free-form jazz feel, as each note falls into place effortlessly. "But it certainly isn’t effortless, by any means. The more you learn about the world around you, the more the challenge deepens." Prekop chuckles a bit and then continues, obviously deadpanning, "We all try to reinvent ourselves so that it always feels like the first time, but it takes more and more effort to rediscover why we’re here to begin with."

Lyrics on Oui recount the dreamy fascination of suspended moments in time.Usually centering on love and relationships, they fade in and out of focus with soft clarity. "The lyrics are written similarly to the music, although for this record, I was left to come up with them on my own. I just sort of set ideas ’out there’ and see where they lead. Intuition has a lot to do with it, the feeling of what the song conveys. The trick is to keep the door open long enough so that only the most interesting scenarios occur. You just have to be aware of it while it’s happening."

When asked to comment on a common theme that is reflected in both his music and paintings, some of which have appeared on the album covers, the singer takes a moment to respond. I guess it would be the spatial relationships and situations that elements react in. And maybe movement." Prekop pauses for a moment, obviously visualizing. "Like when I’m listening to the album, I’ll take it with me on road trips so that there’s this constantly evolving landscape that unfolds along with it."

Which then begs the question of architecture... I really love Mies van der Rohe. He creates these towers of glass that simply explode. There’s one of his in Chicago. It’s barely a building in the formal use of the word. It’s... timeless. Such a bold statement." Sensing the end of the interview, Prekop downshifts into a final comment, savoring the break from music. "I actually have been taking some photographs lately while on tour. I guess I’ve become interested in what might be considered anti-architecture: empty parking lots, deserted buildings and stuff like that uninhabited space... just the beauty in that."