A cry of joy echoes from the sea. Coming home, feeling secure and welcomed. This joy resonates in New York duo’ The Sea The Sea’s sound, fueled by different perspectives that go beyond superficiality and unite us instead of the stretching apart we see and hear about constantly. It fits with the band name, which comes from a Greek story from Xenophon, an Athenian nobleman, warrior and writer from the fourth century B.C. The story goes that after years at sea, he returned home and cried out with joy, “The Sea, the sea!” representing his survival of the waters and his difficult experiences. That coming home feeling and euphoric moment showcases emotional attachment and shows a very human side of us—something that’s captured with depth and synchronicity in The Sea The Sea’s rich acoustic guitars, vocal harmonies and personally intellectual lyrics.
Mira and Chuck Costa make up the duo. In addition to being music partners, are also life partners and are newly married. After reconnecting in 2014, they released their debut album Love We Are We Love, produced by bassist Todd Sickafoose (Ani DiFranco, Andrew Bird). Love We Are We Love was praised by NPR, American Songwriter and No Depression, gathering over 15 million streams on Spotify. They were featured on NPR’s Heavy Rotation and have graced Mountain Stage many times. Host Larry Groce said, “They’re ready to take their place among the best young male/female duos currently performing.”
The video for their song “Waiting,” an animation of 3,454 oil on paper paintings, sparked viral interest from Buzzfeed, Pitchfork, and inclusion at the 2015 international TED conference. In 2016, they released In The Altogether, which earned a spot on Apple Music’s Best of the Week and A-List Singer/Songwriter lists. The six-song EP was produced by Troy Pohl and featured by outlets like Huffington Post and the Bluegrass Situation.
So, the group knows where they’re going with their music and influence. Now, as most artists express their feelings from 2016’s political climate and our country’s cultural tensions, The Sea The Sea are releasing their sophomore album From the Light, which explores the positive light and binding forces of humanity behind polar differences outside of merely politics. Cara May Gorman (vocals, synthesizer) and drummer and percussionist Stephen Struss join the band with this new project; four-piece are touring the country in anticipation of the record’s June 1 release.
They are stopping in Chicago at The Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia Ave.) on Feb. 14 to share the new album, its single “Everybody” based on the feelings post-election and to connect with fans and meet new people and perspectives. Because connecting with people and finding common humanity is a mission of artists, Mira shared. LoganSquarist talked to the Costas before their show to dig deep on their thematic album, what the role of artists is today and the power of live shows.
The theme that follows the album is tied to the U.S.’s political climate and many artists have responded to what has been going on politically; what do you think is the responsibility of artists in a time like this?
Mira Costa: It’s hard to use the word responsibility sometimes but overall we feel like our mission as artists in general is to remind people they are not alone in what they are feeling and experiencing in the world. That means alone in your darkest moments and not alone in your joys, either. Politically, we know there are people [with all] different political persuasions that are coming to our shows so we have been trying to find that that common humanity and let art be a place that can be a catalyst for conversation—a safe place for conversation.
Chuck Costa: The last thing we ever want to do is keep people from coming to our shows because they may or may not agree with us on everything we believe. It’s funny; it can be a bit of a paradox where you want to be open and honest about what you feel but at the same we try to keep our hearts and minds open to the fact that there are people who disagree with us. Our music and in our life, we approach it the same way: We are totally happy to sit down at dinner with anybody and dig deep into ‘Why do you believe what you believe?’ Maybe we are not as different as we think.
MC: The politics of love is understanding.
Given that, how have people responded to the message of “Everybody”?
CC: We are pretty subtle in our lyrics and at our shows about specifics.
MC: We were writing our songs around that time but there is a broader theme about duality. Even though there is definitely a political through mind, it is those feelings we were feeling zoomed out into a broader feeling about moments in life experiencing those poles.
CC: To relate that to the single, that song is a good example of that because the lyrics are throwing out these general [ideas] about what everybody thinks. It’s the idea that everybody is listening with their own point of view; there are lines that will contradict each other (“Everybody’s right, everybody’s wrong”) and so maybe the juxtaposition of those lyrics and how individuals hearing them might shape you out of your normal [perspective]. There is something beneath the surface that they haven’t necessarily dug into.
Creatively and personally, how do you stay positive and embrace the differences that From the Light explores?
MC: We as people tend to lean towards hope. It’s really interesting bc one of the most beautiful things about traveling the country and making music is you really get to know people everywhere. You get a sense of the country and the individual people everywhere. More often than not, there’s a commonality you encounter. That gives us hope and always restores our faith in humanity. Going to see live music is one of the few things left in our culture where you can go and be in a room with people and you’re not on your phone. There is this ephemeral thing where everybody is connected in the room and that feels really meaningful, especially during times like this.