Uprooting your life and moving to a new place is difficult, sure, but leaving home behind and moving to a new country is something else entirely. Obviously unafraid to push himself out of his comfort zone, Sebastian Carter decided to make the move from his native Switzerland, to the quirky Lanes of Brighton we all know and love about three years ago, the move influencing him to ultimately pursue the creation of his debut EP, City Lights.
This being said, Carter himself has been making music for a while. From his humble beginnings of just “putting a few songs out on Soundcloud and seeing what happens,” Carter found fame almost overnight in 2012, when his remixes of Alt-J and Birdy fired him to over a million listens. From then, he has built up a reputation as one of the most inspiring and forward-thinking electronic producers of the moment. It makes sense that his next move would be something of his own, and so City Lights was born.
The EP itself has been a long time coming. After a year and a half in the works, the six-track album may be small, but it’s got big ambition. “I travel a lot. I daydream out of train and plane windows” Carter tells me, as we meet up over a coffee or two in the North Laine’s Coffee Tree. “The EP resembles the transition of moving to Brighton and by living in a different country. It’s inspired by experiencing a different culture and being around different people who are enthusiastic about music.” This becomes blindingly obvious whilst listening. Subtle hints on escapism and travelling, daydreaming and solitude are interwoven throughout the music, and I have a feeling that our little city has made a big impression on him.
The title track, featuring the up-and-coming singer Julia Church, is an obvious comment on this transition between scenic Switzerland and electric Brighton. “That switch from being in Switzerland, going to England and being like, ‘I want to go back to Switzerland’, it’s that lost in limbo between each place.” [Shallow Waters] an instrumental track but perhaps one of the most lyrical on the EP, evoking the nostalgia associated with travelling. The modern influence of Jamie xx combined with the timeless electronic feel of an old Aphex Twin number, the track’s pentatonic melodies and constant beats give it an almost oriental feel.
Itching to find out what musical influences Carter has gathered along his travels, I asked him if there were any other countries that influenced him other than Switzerland. “I love Australian music, it’s different from English and American music,” he tells me, and a comparison to the seminal Aussie songwriter/producer Flume springs to mind. “The music from Australia just resonates with me a bit more, it’s not as classifiable as music from America or Europe, it’s electronic music but indie with that pop and club feel. No one puts it in a box, that’s what inspired me musically.” The tracks Views From Above, VHS and Rose Garden feel like they slot right into this description; straight-up electronic beats, but with a certain crispness and pop warmth that isn’t often heard throughout the electronic genre.
Though discussions of techno and dance music still circulate in the music world, the EP combines a mix of genres to create something remarkable. The song on the EP that really boosts Carter’s pop appeal is Unlock, featuring fellow Brighton-based singer and producer, Atonal. In a typical pop/club feel, it raises to huge melodic drops, its indie/pop/electronic crossover reminisces the current music of the charts with sprinkles of influence from The 1975 and The Weeknd.
He’s steadily propelling himself into the limelight, though Carter leads a reserved life. Using his music as his voice and it’s strikingly clear from his charisma and ambition that he has a long and healthy career in the electronic music world. With more journeys and travels sure to be on the horizon, I’m sure whatever life has in store will spark another EP just as creative and special as this one.
Sebastian Carter’s EP City Lights is available now