Searching for Celia Album White Flag Released on USB Drive
I got on the horn with Robby Jarstad of the band Searching for Celia. They wanted something memorable and unique for the album launch in February, 2013. The great idea was born to use a flash drive, designed out and ready for sale, loaded with the album and a few goodies. What they created was better than they could have expected.
Music fans, anyone that follows a band, wants to own something of that group. While I may have an iPod filled with my favorite music, from tiny little indie bands to chart-topping studio created pop hits, when there is a band I like, and I mean LOVE, I want to have something that is my possession. While I own my iPod, I don’t feel like I “own” the songs on it. Since I end up listening to most of my music digitally though, the growing trend of releasing albums on custom USB drives is perfect for me. It also seems to be perfect for the fans of Searching for Celia who have, as of this writing, purchased every album available on their one-of-a-kind flash drive.
Searching for Celia is a six-piece instrumental ambient rock band, “cinematic dynamic rock with violin and cello — but without vocals. Sometimes it sounds like post rock, sometimes it sounds like alternative rock, sometimes it sounds really French,” according to their facebook page. When I listen to this Utah-based band’s music I remember the first time I saw Explosions in the Sky for the first time (coincidentally in Salt Lake city). With every new track, I am rushed to a new mind-scape and transported to a rushing world that always seems on the edge where the beach meets the sea.
These men and women have a great sense of humor in their lives as is evidenced by their social media presence and marketing. They are up on the current memes and it is thus no surprise when they decided to contact PremiumUSB.com to create their custom flash drive for their album release. I spoke and exchanged emails with Robby Jarstad, the de-facto spokesperson.
Here is that interview:
Q. How long have you been together, what is your origin story?
A. About 3 years ago, our guitarist Sebastien and I got together in his basement and started messing around and putting our sound together. We wanted to do something different from our previous projects and we had mixed ideas about having a singer. We did agree that we wanted to do something that sounded epic, sort of dark, but also followed certain pop conventions. We also wanted to leave our doors open for experimentation and after a few months playing together, we added our drummer Dallin through a mutual friend. We had a few arrangements with strings and I had a friend whose sister played violin and so we had her record some things for us on some early songs. We loved what Diana did and she became an integral part of our sound and took charge of most of the string arrangements. Dallin found our first cellist and we ended up going through a couple different cellists who each contributed to our songs in different ways.
Q . What are your goals and aspirations?
A. Our goals at this point are just to sell the record and possibly place some recordings in film or commercials. Shortly after releasing it, a couple members became uninterested in continuing to move the project forward and the group as a live project was dissolved. We all really love the music though and are pretty happy with how the record turned out.
Q. How did you come up with the design of the man at the Tree?
A. The man at the tree was designed in conjunction with Sebastien and an artist named Kristin Gulledge who has been involved with us through promotion and graphic design through much of the band’s life span. Sebastien drew the tree several years ago as a symbol for a previous band we were in. Kristin adapted it to vectors for branding and added the top hat man which was based on a design she made for a T-shirt she put together for a contest we did awhile back.
Q. What does it mean?
A. The top hat man and the tree go along with the name of the band which comes from a play by T.S. Eliot called “The Cocktail Party.” In the play, a character named Celia is disillusioned with her role in life because of her relationships with others. She leaves the life she knows to serve people in a fictional country, in a sort of less positive “It’s a Wonderful Life” type moment. A minor character named Peter spends his life making films with her as his muse without really understanding her until she is heard to have passed away. So the name of the band is kind of an allusion to that process of looking for something you revere, but have no real understanding of.
The symbol of the man at the tree also tied into a personal moment for me in which I was trying to find closure with a failed relationship and by chance, I returned to this park and a specific tree that brought back some memories about that situation. So that man touching the tree and looking down was supposed to communicate that pensive reflection and moment of realization. The tree is wiry as most trees in Utah are in the dead of winter. Having the man in a top hat was to reflect the period of the play and visually, it allows the viewer to more easily read the emotion of the icon.
It all kind of relates to the way we wrote music as well. There’s this tension and sense of longing that is integral to our music and we were hoping to communicate that somehow. That’s a lot of “meaning” and I hope it’s not too forced. The easy answer is, the dude is like pretty sad and dark looking, but classy and that’s kind of how our music sounds. (He chuckles.)
Q. Why did you decide to use a custom USB drive?
A. The USB drive was a suggestion by our guitarist Al Deans. He had always wanted to do one. I knew nobody really did them on a local level and there’d been a couple big local releases where they stressed the importance of a physical product without a digital release and we thought it would be funny and sort of light hearted to go against that by releasing something purely digital, but that people could buy at our shows and take home with them and it’s also something people use a lot for other things. We toyed with the idea of a couple other less fitting designs like the credit card looking one or bracelets and this seemed to allow us a more sophisticated looking product design. In addition, we were excited to have the flexibility to put so much extra stuff on there.
Q. What do you put on the drive?
A. Ours is 2 GB so we ended up putting a bunch of things on there. There’s of course the audio, which we included in both WAV and 320kbs MP3, a music video for the first song on the album, stem files for people to remix one of our songs, sheet music of all of our string parts, a collection of memes from our Facebook over the years, all of our flyer and poster artwork, an archive of setlists for all of our shows. One of the cooler things was a motion graphic video that ties the music into the theme with the top hat man and some quotes from the play that were made by Kristin Gulledge as well. There’s a few other silly things in there as well and they’re all listed and explained in a PDF document that is also connected to our traditional “liner notes,” thank you’s, and credits.
Q. How do people respond to the drive?
A. Generally, the response to the drive has been really positive. People range from really excited to sort of confused about what to do with it. We delivered it to a local magazine and they seemed really impressed with the design. All in all we are pretty pleased with how the whole thing turned out and everybody involved with the project worked really hard to get it to be what it was.
Check out the album White Flag for yourself on Bandcamp.com