Lou Hill acknowledges that Water Seed’s upcoming Say Yeah!! Live at the Blue Nile — whose rendition of “Messed Up” is premiering below — is essentially “the live version of We Are Stars,” the New Orleans funk group’s 2017 debut album. But it felt like the right thing to do for a sophomore release.
“We had a great tour, great success with We Are Stars, and our fans really love the live show so we thought, ‘Why not?'” the drummer tells Billboard. So shortly after the tour finished, the quintet lined up a home town show at the Blue Nile club and put together a crew to record and film it for the package. “When we’re recording something in the studio we’re thinking about, ‘What is gonna make this a hit record?'” Hill explains. “But when you find us on the stage, our talent really shines. On the stage is when our individual personalities become one and you have all the little nuances that can create a total energy and vibe. We’re from New Orleans, so we’ve definitely gone through the gauntlet of being able to perform many styles and really master your instrument and our craft.
“And the people we study to put on great shows — your Earth, Wind & Fires, your Commodores, Kool & the Gang, Prince, Michael (Jackson) — all of those people just gave everything. It wasn’t about them just standing in front of a microphone and singing. Everything about their show was right, from the dance moves to the guitar and saxophone solo.”
Hill adds that documenting Say Yeah!! Live at the Blue Nile was another appropriate move for the band, as it was a place that allowed Water Seed to cut its teeth during the group’s earliest days.
“The venue and its owners and promoters have been very gracious to us and supported us,” Hill says. “We were hanging out doing our thing in New Orleans and they said, ‘Just take this residency here and practice,’ and it was a great space. Any time we’re home it’s a great venue for us to test out new music or experiment with sounds. So this is our way of giving back to them as well; They’ve been great to us, so we thought it would be really nice to do this at this venue and stamp the time as we move forward in our career.”
Water Seed is in the midst of doing that now. The group will be touring this summer but is already in pre-production for its second studio album; Hill reports that “we have about 30 songs pre-recorded, demoed” including two singles that are “already done, mixed and mastered.” He’s hoping for a spring 2019 release, and he predicts it will build on the musical foundation Water Seed has already established.
“We call ourselves the Future Funk Stars,” Hill says. “We Are Stars felt like a really retro album for us; It’s newer stuff, but it sounds familiar. With this one you’ll have the same kind of vibe but there’ll definitely be elements that are leaning towards the future of where we believe funk and R&B are headed. We’re going to explore a lot of stuff, but at the root of it will be great songwriting, great melody, great rhythm. We’re really excited about it, and I think people are really gonna dig it.”