Band of the Day

2012.06.20

Sebastien Schuller

Twinkling, melancholy soundtrack to an imaginary experimental French film
Closed in your room, could you grow up in your birdcage? If you screen your eyes and your ears, could you blossom without heartache?
lyrics from Tears Coming Home

Sébastien Schuller (born Jean-Sébastien Schuller) is a clasically-trained percussionist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist from Aubergenville, France. Since his first down-tempo electronic debut in 1999, with the 12” Londres, Schuller has composed numerous songs for television and movies. His music has been featured on television shows such as Grey's Anatomy and One Tree Hill, as well as in The Nines (U.S.), Blue Eyelids (France), Toi et Moi (France), and other full-length films. Over the last decade, Schuller has added countless other instruments to his repertoire of sounds, and has become known for combining acoustic and natural sounds with touches of electronica. His American debut album, Happiness, was released on the Minty Fresh record label in 2005. Schuller's latest single is "Nightlife," and he is currently working on a new album. Check out sebastienschuller.com for the latest news.

French composer Sebastien Schuller broke into the music industry via the movie industry. You may (or may not) recognize his music from Grey’s Anatomy or one of the handful of mostly French films in which his music has appeared over the last decade-and-a-half: Blue Eyelids, Toi et Moi, A Summer Day, The Nines. Whether or not it appears in an actual film or television show, Schuller’s music is fully cinematic. Moving deftly between quirky darkness and occasional groovy jubilation, the French composer weaves full-bodied emotions into the framework of his intricate synth-tinged compositions.

Do you need a good song to cry to? Look no further than Schuller’s single “Tears Coming Home” from his 2005 release Happiness. The song begins with hopeful, high-toned toybox harpsichord synths unfolding over orchestral strings, like a coming-of-age montage, that calms to a casually strummed guitar and Schuller singing about sorrow and coldness with equal detachment. At the peak of the song, he sings “too many tears, too many fears” in passionate, icy falsetto, and your heart is beginning to feel pretty heavy. In “Ride Along the Cliff,” the same high-pitched singing style reappears in a notably more upbeat arrangement. “Floating? Are you floating?” Schuller sings sweetly through a filter. The song builds off of this simple question, blooming into a warm, plugged-in, multi-instrumental gospel-funk opus —organ and all. As much as most of his songs perfectly capture rock-bottom emotion, this one delivers a sense of adventure and optimism. Schuller’s echoed vocals in “Midnight” drift amid rhythmic piano on wandering atmospheric synth and a drum machine. This composition —and the rest of songs off of his 2009 full-length, Evenfall­­— would be perfectly at home as the backdrop for a movie about loneliness in the city. “Funeral Harmony” (from Happiness) illustrates Schuller’s capacity for weirdness with its campy atonality. Horn synths and organ plod along like the sinister, drugged-out turning point in a David Lynch movie; someone is dead, about to die, or somewhere in between — and it’s oddly funny. Schuller can take you there.

Between dark comedy, funky euphoria, busy solitude, and especially rainy-day despair, Sebastien Schuller crafts a moment with his music that is simultaneously familiar and fantastical.