Sebastian a.k.a Learn By Sight
Giving artists the spotlight is something we love doing at Drooble. This time, you get to hear from Sebastian Howarth a.k.a Learn by Sight. A resident of South Africa, his craft is making captivating folk tunes that sound like short musical stories. His sonorous acoustic guitar arrangements and airy voice that seems to fill the entire room are an ideal medium for his tales to come through. We went ahead and asked Sebastian some questions…
Hello, Sebastian! Tell us, how did you get started singing and writing songs?
I’ve always loved music. As a kid, I loved singing, but was never really good at it. As I got older, the more I sang, the better I got. And the better I got, the more I wanted to communicate my own ideas through music, rather than someone else’s. So I started writing lyrics and found that I had a knack for it. The singing took a lot of practice (and I still find myself improving my voice as I go), but songwriting came as naturally as breathing to me.
Which of the instruments you play inspires you the most?
Most musicians will tell you that their music is an escape from pretty much anything going on in their lives. For me, it’s a place to go when times are tough, when things are going great, and anywhere in between. I’ve been playing guitar the longest, so I would say that it comes most naturally to me. And so when I am feeling any strong emotion, be it sadness, happiness or anger, my guitar is an outlet for that emotion. But that goes for the other instruments I play too, and even music that I listen to.
How are you able to come up with so many stories to tell through your music?
My dad (Nick Howarth) used to tell me and my sister stories when we were kids. He made them up as he went along and somehow managed to create wonderful tales of adventure and laughter for us. Later in life, he became a best-selling published author. He is also a sculptor and a painter – an incredibly talented one. My mother is also quite artistic, also being a painter, songwriter, and sculptor. So I guess it’s in my blood! I’ve been creative since I can remember.
Do you ever want to make an electric guitar-driven record?
I definitely do! In fact, I have some songs written just for that already. I am in the process of putting together a band to perform and record these songs with, but you can expect a good blue/folk rock EP in the next year or so!
How is life as a musician in South Africa?
The music scene here is not as established as, for example, the USA. But, there is a music scene and it is growing. Just as in most other places in the world, being a musician is not the easiest road to travel. Any artist is usually bombarded by critics or people who don’t have his best interests at heart – and many of those artists never make it. And the musicians that do make it are simply a bigger target for wrong-doers. It’s a shame, but a fact. A tough road, but a rewarding one if you persevere. Stay true to your own goals and values and you’ll be fine.
What else do you like to do besides making music?
Hobbies! I surf when I’m at the coast. Reading is a good pastime. I listen to music most of my waking hours. Exercise is good… I’m a normal human I guess.
Does the lack of support for indie artists ever discourage you?
Sometimes. But, as I said above, it’s a tough road. I do wish more people spent money on indie artists, though. I make a habit of doing that. So often I find someone online who recorded a few songs in their bedroom or garage or whatever, and the music is really good. But the production is just not good enough for your average Joe to say “hey, let me pay this guy”. Unfortunately you kind of need to be good to get good. I have seen my own process of increasing my recording and production quality go up nicely over the years. And as the quality went up, so did the number of people spending money on my music. So it’s both sides – the artist needs to be as good as he can be at what he does, and the listener needs to see through the home recording as much as possible to support someone with incredible talent and limited resources.
How has being on Drooble helped you as a musician?
Drooble is great! It’s a really cool platform for musicians to just get together and spread the love. I’ve actually been looking for something like this for a while. It’s really cool to have like-minded people all in one room giving advice, giving praise, making suggestions, helping each other out. Thanks to Melina and the team!