There is something playful and dreamlike to Sean Heathcliff’s A Boy And His Rose, a five-track EP that has been alive for quite some time now in the mind of the ripe young songwriter formerly known as Kagu.
Behind these handcrafted pop songs, Heathcliff has provided an inquiry into love and life in such a gentle way that it allows you to do the same. He writes from an intimate place about personal experiences, and yet in a way that is so universal his songs become your own reflections, each layered between lush musical landscapes. Yet amongst this other worldliness, it becomes apparent that this is an EP which captures a unique and quintessential chapter in our lives – the passage from youth to adulthood.
Heathcliff has seen a number of changes since his entrance into the music world as co-vocalist and multi-instrumentalist in the internationally acclaimed Snakadaktal. After the band dispersed, he went on to release his debut solo EP in 2015 as Kagu. It was an EP that reiterated his penchant for creating delicate and exquisite pop songs, like the featured ‘Shadow of the Wind’ and ‘Human’. The Kagu EP gradually re-introduced Heathcliff to fans. It has now amassed over 3 million streams across Spotify and Apple Music.
2016 was not without its fair share of challenges for Heathcliff, “it was a problematic year and not everything went to plan”. Yet he contended with these growing pains, slowly bringing his second EP to fruition in the process.
A Boy And His Rose was produced and mixed by Russell Fawcus (Slum Sociable, Noah and the Whale) and mastered by Andrei Eremin (Hiatus Kaiyote, Chet Faker). Writing and performing parts himself, Heathcliff plodded away at the EP with fellow Snakadaktal member Barna Nemeth accompanying on drums. The time and space allowed his writing practice to develop and deepen.
Now we find him here once again with a new name, and for the first time presenting entirely as himself – Sean Heathcliff. The name change was a conscious decision for Heathcliff “to have less to hide behind” and if Kagu was his transition from band to solo project, Sean Heathcliff is the next natural progression for the sincere artist. “It makes me more concerned and conscious of the way I go about my music and what I present to everyone outside of my bedroom.”
These reflections set the tone for the EP. The opening title track ‘A Boy And His Rose’ is an elegant instrumental with hints of playfulness, mystery, and ever-so-softly-layered vocals. First single ‘Ordinary’ is a light and spirited track, demonstrating Heathcliff’s knack for melodies and pop music, whilst ‘Hunter’ converges these joys with a touch of melancholic exploration. The minimal yet stunning ‘Coco Shaded Eyes’ allows Heathcliff’s vocal depth and capacity for storytelling to unfold beside a gentle guitar riff, and the instantly likeable ‘Too Far’ brings the EP to a close with perfect resolution, a grand and heartfelt flourish of growth and understanding.
“I’m still just trying to write pop songs and learn more about music,” Heathcliff explains of his new material. “I hope they are enjoyable and that listeners can take what they want from them. I don’t want to push my reflections of the songs too much as I believe there is something special and delicate about the relationship between a listener and the music they’re listening to. But I guess the tone of the EP in my mind is just growing while trying not to lose your creative, childish, over-fed, wandering (or whatever slur you wish to stitch upon it) mind.
“After making A Boy And His Rose, I’ve really found a way I feel most comfortable writing and constructing songs, which has made me very itchy to follow up with another release soon.”
For now though, immerse yourself in A Boy And His Rose – out digitally March 17, 2017.