He has gone 20 years without learning how to read music. “You wake up in the middle of the night and try not to disturb the person next to you sleeping and try to get it recorded, because it goes just as fast as it comes to me.” Anthony von Seck has been recording music with the Montreal group The Shalabi Effect since 1996 and they are currently set to release their 5th Middle Eastern-Pop album on cassette. This is not why AvS is chatting via Skype today. Eager to release his own solo effort “My Best Friend in Exile” on his new indie label Experimental Farm, this musical genius wants to talk about art and all it encompasses in his colorful life.
Anthony von Seck, who has changed his name…just because, has pulled in his friends to help him record this incredible solo CD. Amy Millan (Stars & Broken Social Scene) and Basa Bulat, members of Thee Silver Mountain Zion, and others are just a few of the powerhouse musicians adding their brush stroke styles to the vast musical landscapes being laid down for your ears approval. AvS’s guitar riffs reflect a 60’s dark basement psychedelia infused with great 80’s keyboard sensibilities. It’s like The Cure met Hendrix down in the basement of your parents home in 2071.
The cover of his album is reflective of the past and also a very personal voyage for AvS. The cover snapshot was taken of Antartica by his Father while working on a whaling ship in the 1950’s. The title of the album was found on the back of the snapshot his Grandparents had of friends of theirs that were sent away in exile to the Gulags in Siberia. AvS feels his own journey is represented in the image and title “the world is a collision of a lot of forces, and I think that’s what this represents.”
Borrowing “Devil’s Lake” from his friend actor Tom Noonan (Manhunter) who had written the tune years before and then asked Basa Bulat to perform vocals. The interpretation is a glorious piece that Von Seck was “more of director in than a participant.”, yet his stylistic mark permeates every inch of the track.
A skilled music video and film director who’s recent work includes Feist’s “Look at What the Light Did Now”, he paid respect to master filmmaker Akira Kurasowa with his song “Koyasan Mountain”. Following advice from Leslie Feist to “go to Rikan” while filming a project in Osaka, he found himself staying in one of twenty preserved temples playing music and soaking up traditional Japanese culture.
Amidst the twenty temples, were massive trees held together by rope the size of a tree trunk. Ancient, moss covered tombstones from centuries ago were scattered throughout the land. “The energy was intense” and inspiring for this artisan to become heavily influenced by this culture and its history which subtly melds through numerous tracks.
Another song written during this time was “Boracay Sun (the Coco solo)”, while shooting a documentary in the Philippines about B Boy dancers in the ghetto. He wrote the melody on a Casio keyboard he had handy while hanging out on a beautiful island he went to after shooting had wrapped. The Coco solo addition is an homage of sorts to a man named Coco in a bar in Montreal that plays videos of Jeff Beck solos. AvS slams home a long riff solo at the end that would make Coco proud.
Reflecting back on his purpose of creating this magnificent solo recording AvS knew he was “going to do all these things that I love when I create this album”. He began his musical passion in 1988 when he first saw Dire Straits perform their “Money for Nothing” Tour at Wembley Stadium. He bought a Thunder one guitar and an amp and never looked back. “I know this thing that is magical [happens] when I do music.”
“My Best Friend in Exile” is now available on ITunes.