It all started with a “song game.” Seela was given the title “Peripheral Vision” and had a week to write and record a demo to share, via email, with her songwriting group. She pieced together something, stashed it away, then at the last minute the chorus came to her. Then, everything was “Cool.”
The title track off her upcoming sixth studio album Cool, out July 24, “Cool” was initially recorded with an acoustic guitar and vocals, but Seela had a bigger arrangement in her head. “I’ve always felt like an outsider and I have written many songs from that perspective,” Seela tells American Songwriter. “This one flips it around somewhat, as in, ‘it’s not that I’m an outsider looking in all the time, it’s that you just think you’re too cool for me.’”
Eventually the song became the title of her album, 13 tracks all self-produced by Seela—a first for the Austin-based artist—backed by her husband and drummer Jon Greene (Patty Griffin, Fastball, Jaimee Harris), guitarist and nephew Andrew Casile, bassist Andrew Pressman, and a number of local Austin musicians expanding Cool’s sonic, and cool, instrumentation.
Also a visual artist—and a painter, and an illustrator, and the owner a bread-baking business—Seela even helmed the video for the single, drawing and animating visuals of dancing stick figures, mixed with black and white footage of water skiers, and a kaleidoscope of shifting shapes and colors all drifting in cool, calm, collected tempo.
Visually devouring “The Muppets,” “Julia Child” and other ’80s television as a kid, a collage of childhood TV and movie moments engrained in her mind may have inspired the animated montage of “Cool.”
“Waterskiing, karate, motorcycles, shuffle dancing are all things I find fascinating, but have never attempted, so they had to go in the video,” says Seela. “This is also the first of my videos that has actual footage mixed in with the animation.”
Of her multi-dimensional artistic visions and duties, Seela says there’s no end in her sight. “It’s addictive and gratifying work that I intend to keep doing forever.”