Seth Faergolzia has been wowing audiences worldwide with his chaotically joyful, hippie-punk music, art, multimedia works and fashion for over 30 years! Born in 1975 Seth spent his early years growing up in various towns throughout New York State, USA; with creativity being an ever present force in his life – Thanks to a loving push from his parents, Seth began singing and playing music at a very young age, being able to match pitches aged 1, going on to take up the violin aged 3, and the cello by 9. Importantly, by 6 Seth had already gotten his first paid music gig too – Thanks to a singing gig with his local Episcopal Church’s boys choir.
After those early childhood salad days, Seth continued to explore creativity in all it’s aspects throughout his teens, eventually moving to New York City in the late 1990s, during his 20s, where Seth quickly became a key player in the cities’ antifolk movement, centered around the now closed Sidewalk Cafe. A ragtag scene of misfits that also nurtured other notable groups and performers throughout the early 2000s, such as The Moldy Peaches, Jeffrey Lewis & Regina Spektor
After spending many years in NYC, and with his at-the-time band ‘Dufus’ gaining more and more momentum internationally, Seth was forced to grapple with a major illness – Ulcerative colitis, a dangerous inflammation of the large intestine. Which put the brakes on his ability to tour.
Eventually leading Seth to move back to his home-city of Rochester; were he has been living and thriving for over 15 years now! Becoming a father, working on a wide variety of art and multimedia projects, getting into puppetry, theater, and directing; honing his skills as a builder and craftsman; whilst also continuing to create and release a veritable boatload of music, both solo and through groups such as ’23 Psaegz’ and ‘Multibird.’
Thankfully for Seth, his health issues improved shortly after moving back to New York State and he was able to resume touring, both within America and internationally. Which he also continues to do today, most recently touring Europe to much acclaim.
On the eve of the 25th anniversary of Seth’s band Dufus, his signing with much loved record label Needlejuice Records; and with Seth having recently re-launched his online store; and released a new 12 disc box set of various old and unreleased material; we sent him some questions about his vast career to answer over email.
Take a dip into Seth’s world, below…
Name & Date of Birth?
City, State and Country you currently call home?
Rochester, NY, USA.
City, State and Country you’re from?
I’ve lived all over New York State, the city I most related to was NYC.
Please describe some memories – such as art, music, friendships, adventures, study, romance, politics, work, crime, religion… anything really – from the stages of your life noted below:
* Your childhood:
My mom tells me I was matching pitches at 1 year old, from there they had me studying violin at 3, which I didn’t stick with, but at 6 I had my first regular paid gig singing in a boys’ choir at the Episcopal Church near our home.
That was one of my first deep feelings of musical elation.
I can recall closing my eyes on the tunes I had memorized, listening to the reverberance of the high-ceilinged building and feeling it tingle up and down my spine.
I honestly don’t remember much from those years…
There was this one time that a friend of mine and I were wandering around unattended and ended up in an abandoned old school. We were like 6 years old. We were both scared as hell, managed to venture into an open window and across the hall to the bathroom before we both got spooked and ran out of the place, but on my way out I looked down below the windowsill and found a shotgun!
I picked it up immediately and showed it to my friend.
He was scared, and I was stupid.
I shoved the nose of the gun into the dirt and pulled to trigger to make sure it wasn’t loaded. If it had been loaded, I’d be telling a much different story probably.
I wanted to keep the gun, he wanted to turn it in to the cops.
I was going to hide it in my backyard. He said he’d tell his mom if I kept it – So we went to a retired cop he knew and showed it to him. It was a big to do. My folks were obviously mad at me and the babysitter but thankful I turned it in (little did they know it was against my will.)
The cool thing about turning it in is that I got to go around the whole building with a cop looking at ALL the rooms. My friend didn’t because he didn’t find the gun, I think. It was wild.
I still remember going into a room where there was just a giant mound of clothing reaching almost to the ceiling.
I was grounded, but there’s not much you can do to ground a 6 year old so it wasn’t so bad.
* Your teenage years:
I got into a lot of mischief in my teen years. Not as bad as many, not quite as well behaved though either. The usual stuff kids in the middle of nowhere get into.
I was also extremely musically involved.
After having given up violin at the age of 3, around the age of 9 I took up cello then switched to double bass when I got a bit taller. That was my instrument after that, but I expanded to bass guitar then acoustic guitar in my later teens, getting into songwriting and composition in a serious way.
I composed some orchestral works and piles and piles of songs. Some were absolutely wretched, but some were gems.
It was a sort of shotgun method to songwriting before I knew what my voice was.
I was playing in punk / hiphop / metal and alternative bands.
* Your 20s:
I heard something about how Ravi Shankar was told to go up on a mountain and think about why he wanted to make music, just to meditate on that idea. I don’t even know if that story is true, but it resonated in a weird way through my work.
I decided to stop listening to music, stop reading books, etc. and only focus my mind on my form of creation, to find my individual voice. I searched and wrote and recorded.
I would allow myself to be part of a musical community so I did take influence, but I got away from recorded music almost completely for about 2 or 3 years.
This led to what I consider to be my sound today.
Dufus rose then fell almost as quickly due to my inability to tour when a horrible illness struck my down and left me bedridden repeatedly in my later 20s, causing me to leave NYC.
* Your 30s:
I moved back north close to my parents in Syracuse, NY, fearing my illness might get the best of me once again.
There, in Ithaca, NY I delved into spirituality, yoga, and health, spending day after day alone and in meditation but still traveling to tour with Dufus on occasion.
On one such occasion in Rochester, NY I met the mother of my first child. After my first was born, I came to Rochester to care after them and have made my home here ever since, 15 years now.
* Your 40s so far:
I feel on top of everything I felt subject to in my past.
I feel so lucky and blessed to have lived through that illness so many years ago and to have come out on the other side with the knowledge and humility it has granted me.
I have a second child now and have taken up new hobbies such as building tiny homes and working on a feature film based on a long piece of stream of consciousness rock opera called Moon Shaped Head.
I’m working toward funding that while keeping busy with recording projects. This year it has been my goal to release 12 new albums, a lot of it is me clearing out my catalogue.
I think it’ll actually happen, maybe carrying over into January a bit, but close enough! It’s meant to clear my studio of all back-burner / forgotten projects so that I can move forward and begin writing anew.
My work has always been about rewriting myself, finding my voice in different parameters, expressing utter freedom in all circumstances because no matter what we try, we never get to absolutely choose what happens to us every day… life is unpredictable, but I want to achieve this state of self in all circumstances, perhaps that is a sort of nirvana? Who knows.
“Do it when you think it.”
Music, Art + Creativity Questions
When and why did you first become interested in music, art, film, fashion and everything creative?
… and any pivotal creative moments / influences?
I have always been a bit of a loner. From an early age, I can remember wanting to be alone to think and to create, feeling driven to write poem after poem and song after song.
It’s like, when I would lay down to sleep at night, I’d get an idea, turn the light on, write it down, then lay back down, get another idea, turn the light back on, write it down and repeat until I fell asleep exhausted.
Maybe this is where the whole lightbulb meaning an idea thing comes from.
I don’t think there was ever a conscious decision to make art, it just has felt like a drive, it’s what I do! Perhaps growing up in a household of musicians helped put me on that path.
If you had to explain your creative endeavours to some recently crash-landed aliens…
What would you tell them?
I am one who revels in the act of creation, no matter what type, for it is my belief that the state of creation is the closest to godliness a human can achieve in this life.
I am not widely known in this world because I have also quite often acted in a destructive way toward my creations in order to rebuild.
Then I would show them some Legos, make some weird shit, take it apart and make some other weird shit.
Who are some of your favourite artists, writers, directors and musicians?
…and what is it about their works that so inspire and move you?
Wow, this is such a difficult question because there are so very many.
The ones who are close to me are the most important because they are beloved. John Ludington, Jeffrey Lewis and Diane Cluck are all great musicians who I am in regular contact with. We revel in our mutuality, our place as similarly minded artists in this insane world.
I’m also quite moved by the traditional music of Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America. I often wonder if it’s because these places are so foreign to my Western Ear or if there is really truly something deeper and majestic about these traditions.
One of my favorite singers is Kishori Amonkar. Her way of singing brings that same tingle up my spine that I felt when I was but a 6 year old choir boy.
Are you still making much fashion and other associated accessories?
Alas, I have let that part of my journey slide away.
I still have ideas and desire to make some clothing, but I’ve only enough time for a few things. If I’m not making music or parenting or doing business activities regarding my career, I spend time making short plays that I’ve been putting online or drawing, painting, puppet making.
I do plan to get back into fashion at some point, but it’s still a ways off, methinks.
If people wanted to listen to your music, work with you or buy some of your art – Where should they visit and how should they get in touch?
Iv’e recently set up my new online store: https://sethlives.com/music
People can also go to www.multibird.bandcamp.com that’s probably the most comprehensive collection of my music.
Art, I’d just say reach out to me directly.
Oh and if people want to support my film and other endeavours they can go to www.patreon.com/sethfaergolzia
Odds and Ends
If you could live in any place, during any historical era – Where and when would that be?
…and why would you choose that time and place?
Oh wow, I mean, a musician like me would have done really well in the 1960s West Coast USA hippie movement… but I think I would like to live in a time when land was cheap so I could buy up a huge plot and let it thrive.
But really, here and now is absolutely thrilling.
I know our world appears to be swirling in a toilet at the same time as it achieves technological greatness, but I am mad curious what’s going to come about in the next 10-20 years. It feels like we are at the make or break of humanity.
What role did toys play in your childhood?
I mentioned Legos already. I always loved and still do love building with that sort of stuff.
I was into war toys, funny enough, fighting with little guys… good memories with my brother playing with the Slinky down the stairs at my childhood home too.
And I was a road demon on the Big Wheel.
Does sex change everything?
Sex is one thing that hasn’t changed.
What are the top 3 items you own?
Hmm, probably my house and the land which I’m building tiny houses on are my top two keepers….
… then wow, um, maybe my guitar or double bass or computer which contains tons of work?
In a fight between the following icons of American childhood: Fred McFeely Rogers aka Mr Rogers (television host) Vs. Ronald McDonald (the mascot for fast food chain McDonalds) – Who would win?
…and why would they be victorious?
Mr. Rogers would destroy Ronald McDonald because he’s awesome and McDonald is a fucking clown.
Please describe your last dream in detail…
Hmm, yesterday I had a dream we were drying a bunch of logs by the fire and one of them was pretty rotted out. I picked it up to move it away from the fire and a foot long worm with body armour jumped out of the log and attached to my arm.
I went to show it to my son but couldn’t find him…
Of everything you have done, what would you most like to be remembered for?
I’d like to be remembered as a catalyst for positive change in the world, somehow convincing people to be generally kind to one another.
- Seth Faergolzia – Website
- Seth Faergolzia – Online Store
- Seth Faergolzia – YouTube
- Seth Faergolzia – Patreon
- Seth Faergolzia – Instagram
- Seth Faergolzia – Bandcamp (Primary – via Multibird)
- Seth Faergolzia – Bandcamp (Secondary – via Dufus)
- Seth Faergolzia – twitter
- Seth Faergolzia – Facebook
- Seth Faergolzia – Wiki Entry for Dufus
All images supplied by Seth.