‘Let’s Go Somewhere Primitive’

Seth Ewing Huff wants to think about it
By Ariana Shahandeh

Seth Huff. Photo by James Zanoni.

Seth Ewing Huff, one-fourth of the band The Retros, started by lead singer Mia Carruthers, began his solo music project, Archer’s Paradox, while still in high school. “Diamonds in the City,” a song from that album, was re-recorded with The Retros for their EP, We Will Grow, among the most revered songs on the EP. Huff spoke with Streetvibes about his hope for the band’s upcoming album, originality in lyricism and fame.
Q: Another band member expressed an interest in working with a different producer for each song in the next album. Is this something you also want to pursue?
A: Yeah, I would like to do that also. Maybe not every song, but definitely have a few different ideas going on throughout the entire (album).
Q: Are there any producers you’d like to work with specifically?
A: Is this a fantasy world? Can I pick anyone?
Q: Yes.
A: Kanye West, Dangermouse, etc. But with this next CD, I’d like to work with someone who doesn’t really have a “sound” but figures out what sounds best for the group really well. Like a Rick Rubin kind of guy: you can never really tell, “Rick Rubin produced this because it has a certain swag to it,” but he always makes a quality record.
Q: I think you guys should produce “Above All the Sound” (originally produced by Archer’s Paradox and now being reproduced in an upcoming Retros song album) with John Mayer.
A: I tell you what, I wish we could get that. That would add to my dream for the band. We just play musical chairs with the instruments. I’ll go to drums for a song, Mia (Carruthers) will go to bass and keyboard, Stefan (Wright) will go to keyboard. I want to get that Beatles thing back, where it’s cool for everyone in the band to be a front man. I want it to be OK again to do that. I think producing with a bunch of different people on this album would be a step in that direction. I make hip hop beats for fun. I rapped on a song. Right now it’s not a healthy thing for a musician to be doing because (an artist) needs to be very “what you are: I’m this.” I’d like to break that. Producing with a bunch of different people would be another thing that would help us in (that) sporadic kind of movement.
Q: What’s your favorite lyric off the Vampire Weekend album?
A: It’s probably in the song “Run.” The one lyric – “So lead my feet away, ’cause all they do is stay, and I don’t think your eyes have ever looked surprised.” It’s the perfect reason to run away and find something else. That whole song is good; it’s got such a simple meaning: you and I, let’s go somewhere else and leave all this behind – let’s go somewhere primitive.
I would love to do a big stunt like that someday to write an album to just go out in the middle of nowhere – just disappear – and then just come back with this product. It’s a little cliché’ now.
Q: What are some other cliché’s musically?
A: I’m tired of everybody talking about taking their clothes off. It’s not an original thought. Ever since clothes have been around, you can take them off. Just quit.
Vampire Weekend uses very specific words in the song “Campus” about waking up and putting on a sweater. That’s a cool way of being literal. That’s like using that imagery to paint a picture. The not-cool way of being literal is when Kesha says, “There’s a hole in the wall, it’s a dirty free-for-all.” We know exactly what (she) is talking about; (she’s) laying it on way too thick. Pop music right now has found a way of making it literal and up front and make it not cool at all. You don’t even have to think about it. I want to think about it.
Q: What’s the most original way you’ve heard love portrayed in a song recently?
A: In music, love is always there somewhere. It’s like a story. There’s always got to be some sort of hint of love there. I was just listening to a new Kanye (West) song called “Monster.” Jay Z is rapping. He is talking about all these horrible things he does because he is a monster: (“Murder murder in black convertibles, I kill a block I murder avenues, Rape and pillage a village, women and children, Everybody wanna know what my Achilles heel is, Love – I don’t get enough of it.”)
You are talking about doing all these horrible things that have nothing to do with love, and the reason you do it is because you don’t get enough love. That’s such a classic sob story but it was a cool way of portraying it. Yeah, Jay Z, I get what you mean there. I know you don’t actually do those things, but you are just making a statement. It’s the reason for a lot of people doing horrible things. It was just a cool way of putting love into a song called “Monster.” It was a cool way of just oozing it in there.
Q: How do you feel about the idea of fame, both the destructive and exciting part of it?
A: I honestly love every aspect of it and completely want to be engulfed in it. It’s one of my dreams. I could sit here and (say) “I want to do it all for the music – and I do – but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be famous.
I want as many people as possible to connect with some sort of art form that I produce, whether it’s music, or literature, or movies or some sort of visual (content).
Q: You’re interested in other creative outlets?
A: Oh yeah. Musicals, writing, movies. Entertainment in general just … baffles me with its awesomeness. I just love the way that stuff can make you feel. It’s hard to explain. I get so inspired when I see some sort of art form being accepted by a large group of people. Like when Avatar came out, everybody loved it. And I loved it so much more because everybody loved it.
Q: You’re like the antithesis of a hipster.
A: Ha! Exactly. It’s not because I’m trying to follow the pack or anything. I love it because it’s so cool that everybody likes this one thing; everybody came together to see this one thing. This reached out to many people. That’s awesome. That’s most inspiring to me.