Saintseneca on “Pillar of Na”

Sep 11, 2018 Web Exclusive
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"I have to believe that what we're making is the best thing I could have done."

Pillar of Na, the fourth full-length album from Saintseneca, is the masterwork referenced above by Zac Little. Little is the gravitational center of Saintseneca, an ever-evolving Columbus-based band rooted in folk rock tendencies with branches extended into alt-rock and indie pop. On their fourth album, Little continues to experiment and expandanything goes as long as it meets the mark for excellence.

"To some extent with this record, I feel like I had a pretty clear and specific vision for what I wanted to accomplish in terms of the tonalitythe sense of place and space and what instruments were used and how they were used," says Little. "So I had a clear vision but I also wanted to leave room to be surprised, to try to do something ambitious that pushes me beyond what I am comfortable with."

After considering other options for both producer and studio, Little once again enlisted the help of Mike Mogis for their third such collaboration. Mogis (Bright Eyes, Speedy Ortiz, First Aid Kit) produced both 2014's Dark Arc and 2015's Such Things, which meant Little could trust the Nebraskan to help him achieve his "specific vision."

"I didn't think we'd work together again," says Little. "The record took so long to come to fruition that I had so many ideas about where I wanted to record it and who I wanted to record with and what it would sound like. If we'd made the record a year-and-a-half earlier it would have been really different. But I knew I wanted a specific sound, and when we'd worked on two other collaborations with Mike, there's a room in his studio that I really like. I'm really satisfied with the tones and the sound in that room."

Little also knew that Mogis would push back a bit, that he could trust his input for the sake of the music.

"One of the other things I wanted to do was trust Mike, too," says Little. "Before we worked with him, I wanted to make it clear with him that this album needed to have less additives, to be more minimal, to have more air and space and intimacy. I also wanted it to be a little raw, to not polish it too much. I knew he was not only on board, but that he could accomplish that kind of recording, too. So it was just a matter of trusting him. So I suppose that rapport allowed us to try some new things."

Despite being the primary pillar upholding Saintseneca's catalog, Little isn't afraid to allow other voices to affect or even alter the creative process. As long as it serves the song, and not necessarily the band, Little is all for it.

"I think it's important to celebrate other people's voices and what they contribute. The band might change over time and it's going to be different groups, but rather than making it adhere to a form of self, there's a challenge of figuring out what is special or unique with only that group of people. That's what's so cool about collaborating with others is that it can only come into being by this particular group of people making it happen. It can be an infinite number of other ways, but it's asking, 'What can we do that no one else can do?'"

If there's any guiding principle at work for Little and anyone he allows into Saintseneca's process, it harkens back to his original idea of the music being the best it can be. "At any point, I don't want to work on a song, let alone a record, if I don't think it's the best so far," he says. "Then again, I'm never happy with anything. I'm always amazed when I talk to people and they listen to their own music. I think, 'How do you do that?' For me there's a paradox there. I have to believe this record is the best thing we've done while also realizing I'm never really happy with anything."

www.saintseneca.com

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Bargie Anders
September 12th 2018
7:59am

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