Born from the bohemia that nurtured Atlanta's soul renaissance, six-person ensemble Seek came up in the scene that helped reconnect a DJ-weaned audience with live music. Lead by Freddy Luster, who co-owned the Yin Yang Cafe (once epicenter of the local neo-soul explosion), and vocalist/lyricist Lisa Terry, Seek winds '70s influences through steady studio grooves to make shimmering mid-tempo funk.
It's been an eventful summer for the group, having spent a week in Japan teaching soul-clap lessons at a supper club and prepping for the American release of Surrender, Seek's sophomore album. Their records ask you to surrender yourself to the good and the bad and just flow with the natural process. To find out more, we tested the old saying: Seek and ye shall find.
Creative Loafing: Within the last couple months, you spent a one-week residency in Yokohama, Japan, and celebrated the release of Surrender with your first New York gig. Are you as excited about celebrating back home with "family"?
Freddy Luster: Absolutely. For us, playing outside of our comfort zone challenges us to get better as a unit. But playing Atlanta is going to be a party. We're going to try to do something unexpected. Even though we've been around awhile, this is the first time we've done something like this l had a night just ours.
Is it going to be kind of weird not celebrating [at Yin Yang], though?
FL: It is, but that's just where we are. I like the Cotton Club, though, and with their new sound system, it's going to sound really good.
How are things going on the plans to open up a new Yin Yang?
FL: Not really well. People are having financial difficulties, which is affecting our ability to get this joint open. People are just losing money, and then they get gun-shy.
Is that, in a way, good because it freed you to worry more about the new album?
FL: Actually, yeah. It's not what I want, per se, but things happen for a reason, so in the meantime, I'm going to put all my energy into what I want with the band and label [SOULestial Elements]. We're going to start making a new record in the fall. We're embarking on a publishing deal with Bug Music. I'm just working on our having back catalog as we solidify outlets.
With not only the economics but the emotions that resulted from the events of the last year, do you think people are actively seeking music that's uplifting?
FL: I think so. I'm hoping so, since that's what our music strives to be without being preachy. Even the name Seek reminds you that in reality, in life, shit is not going to be great all the time, but you have to work to find your place, and appreciate the struggle. At the end of the day, we provide feel-good music good to lounge to. That's in the air, and that's our air.
What do you hope to achieve with the new record?
Lisa Terry: We want to do more of a concept this time. Surrender does have a concept, the way we melted it together, but we really want to do a record with one vibe captured over a few months. It will draw on the heels of what this one is. It's a journey thing. People have told me that Surrender makes them want to be in love, it takes them through so many levels of struggle and resolution. The next one would be a continuation of that, but more focused.
FL: We're going to approach the new record from a slightly different standpoint. It will have a more band-oriented sound. With this record, you can't really tell from the record whether it's a project or an actual band. This next record will have a little more feel of a group in a studio together.
This fall will also see releases by Yin Yang alums Jiva, Donnie and India Arie. Is Atlanta really the soul mecca people outside the city may see it as?
FL: There's still plenty to do and see; you just have to stick it out longer to find it. There's not the one consistent outlet. But it's been good because people have to stick further with what they're doing, honing in on their strengths. Atlanta allows people to be more honest about who they are, to their soul. They don't have to conform to a scene necessarily. Like John Mayer. He looks like an average Georgia Tech cat, but I think his writing is very soulful. Yet I wouldn't call him a soul artist. But he comes from the heart, and that's where I think we're all at right now.
Seek plays Tues., Aug. 27, at the Cotton Club, 152 Luckie St. Free. Call for showtime. Free. 404-688-1193.