Photo Credit: Ann Bi
College, otherwise known as adulthood purgatory, is a glorious time in a person’s life where pajamas are appropriate for public wear, ramen is suitable for all three meals, and midnight is when things just get started. It’s also when one often meets their next set of life friends. With childhood friendships based on nostalgia and proximity, college is where you connect on deeper levels. Whether it be politics or major, or in the case of Olivia and Rashmit of Sea Offs – music – college friendships have a way of taking one further in life than ever expected.
They met in a club, but not the DJ dropping bass kind. From then on they’ve taken their worldly explorations and love of sound towards their new EP, ‘En Root.’ We talked about their start, the music, and of course what’s next for these college friends turned folk mates.
Kendra: When did each of you go from being fans of music to wanting to pursue it as a career?
Olivia: To be honest, I can’t remember a time I didn’t want to be a professional musician. Since I was young, I would force my family to sit through hour-long performances; for Career Day in Elementary School, I was always a “singer.” I got a bit more realistic as I grew older, but it wasn’t until really a few years ago that I started to actually invest major time and energy into it.
Rashmit: Same, I’ve kind of known it since I was 15. I think, for me, it happened when I created something that I felt could confidently sit next to the work of the artists I admired.
Kendra: College is everyone’s opportunity to make friends, find a path for life after school, and have those crazy wild nights. For you two, you both found someone you connected with on a wonderful creative level. Were you in the same class, dorm, or did you stumble upon one another randomly?
Olivia: We actually met in Songwriters’ Club! My friend Doug and I were showcasing a song we collaborated on, and that was the first meeting Rashmit attended. He came up to me afterward, and we just started talking about our mutual love of atmospheric folk songs. Shortly after, we were in a random stairwell singing an Elena Tonra song.
Rashmit: She also sang “Leave” to me in that stairwell and that’s when I knew I wanted to make music with her.
Kendra: Mumbai, Philly, New York City. There are a lot of places in your background, but was there any place in particular that influenced ‘En Root?’
Olivia: I think all of the above, plus Pittsburgh, State College, Washington DC. We’ve both moved around a lot the last few years, and it was that near-constant transplant status that inspired many of the songs – feeling “unrooted” and disassociated from the present. I think the theme of the record is about distance in an emotional and physical sense of the word.
Rashmit: There’s definitely some “Mumbai” in our music. We’ve used Hindustani instrumentation such as the Tanpura on “For Familiarity’s Sake”. But overall, I would agree, the EP captures our constant lack of defined, singular roots in some ways. And I don’t see that as a bad thing necessarily.
Kendra: Olivia, you mentioned how and why “Will (you)” came to be. That disconnect one has with their own body whilst being physical with another when it’s void of emotion. With that in mind, do you feel that the ever-growing reality of hookup culture will have long term effects on future generations?
Olivia: That’s an interesting question (and thank you for it!) I can’t say with certainty how I think it will affect my generation in the long-term, let alone generations to come. All I can do is speak to my own experience. And my experience is riddled with complexity. I was very insecure in my early 20s, and I sought a lot of validation from men. I always struggled with myself and could only ever believe I was capable or worthy or beautiful enough if someone else said it was so. I just didn’t know how to be alone I think, really. Sex was an easy distraction from being alone. I don’t think I will have PTSD from hookup culture, but I do think I just realized too late it wasn’t for me, and I was trying to fit a mold I knew didn’t fit my needs.
Kendra: With the new album out at the end of March, what else is on the Sea Offs’ plate?
Olivia: Well we’re both in other bands in our respective cities as well (me: Forever Honey; Rashmit: Palmlines,) so once this is out I’m sure we’ll be redirecting our focus slightly to those projects. Despite living apart, we’ve always treated Sea Offs as our experimental meeting ground. It’s nice to still be able to get together after so many years and write songs that challenge us in new ways. We’re already working on the next leg of tunes, so those are bound to make their debuts soon enough.