Sevish is a musician from London, UK. He produces various styles of electronic dance music (drum & bass, jungle, house, breaks) with layers of atmospheric, warped harmonies. Where most of the world uses standard tuning (12-tone equal temperament), Sevish uses alternative tunings i.e. microtonal tunings. Pop structures and familiar tropes are subverted while keeping things approachable and funky.
“[Sevish]’s tunings are artificial—they don’t necessarily correspond to the way sounds vibrate in nature—but that’s their appeal. Instead of consonance or impeccable intonation, his songs feature sounds that vibrate against each other in unusual ways. It’s unnerving at first listen, but—similar to ultra-spicy hot peppers or extreme fitness—strangely addictive.”
“The artist that I think that everybody should check out if you’re into microtonal stuff, or at least want to start maybe dabbling in it without going to far off the deep end, is a producer by the name of Sevish. [His music has] the grooves, sounds and timbres of electronic music but now you also have this added layer of weird microtonalness. Really cool stuff.”
“Provably 4.416 times more complete than your favorite musician”
Since around 2010, Sevish included the dark art of microtonality/xenharmonics in his craft. This allows new musical ideas and moods by tuning instruments to alternative systems. The effect can be alien, or it can be familiar. It can sound like a warbly cassette tape, like it’s out of tune, like it’s more in tune, and many other subjective impressions. It’s just another variable in the music that can be tweaked.
While microtones are not “new” (the earliest music would have been microtonal) it’s new for most people. In the West we are immersed in a standard tuning called “12-tone equal temperament”. Outside the West you start to find that microtones all over traditional music. Either way, Sevish explores non-traditional microtonal systems that would evoke unusual moods no matter what music you grew up with. And he blends it with his own brand of experimental dance music.
The microtonal or Xenharmonic thing is one of the new frontiers for experrymental musicians. If you think i’m nuts just listen to Golden Hour. Sevish will wash out your ears and give you some completely new musical thrills.
The approach that Sevish has on xen music is special, and you will most probably be able to grasp the harmonies and melodies of the tuning systems. You’ll get it.
–Can this even be called Music
Albums are Sevish’s favourite format for listening to music. As of 2019, his solo albums include Horixens, Harmony Hacker, Rhythm and Xen, Golden Hour, and Sean but not Heard (as Sean Archibald). These can be grabbed on Bandcamp, or streamed on YouTube, Spotify etc.
Scale Workshop – web app to create and play microtonal tunings (programmer)
Now & Xen – podcast about microtonal music (host)
Sevish blog – blog about microtonal music, synth geekery, and electronic music tutorials
split-notes – digital record label (netlabel) for microtonal music with a beat, launched in 2010
90’s rave and drum’n’bass. Video game soundtracks—especially Sega Genesis FM sounds. Minimalism and repetitive sounds. Ambient and drone music. Jazz. 80’s club music. Field recordings. 20th Century electronic music like Wendy Carlos and Raymond Scott. Gamelan. Contemporary xenharmonic music. Ancient music. Traditional music. Glitches. Listened to a lot of μ-ziq, Squarepusher, and Aphex Twin as a teenager. Prog, space, or psychedelic anything. Hip hop and beats.
Sevish has built a following on YouTube, where his tracks ‘Droplet’, ‘Gleam’, ‘Desert Island Rain’ and ‘Ganymede’ have been widely watched.
In 2010, Sevish’s music was included in various performances of the 60×60 project. 60×60 brings together 60 works from 60 composers, each a minute long. Submitting under the name Sean Archibald, his work See Now was used in the 2010 International Mix, Crimson Mix and Untwelve mix. It was also performed in the 60×60 Dance Mix @ Stratford Circus, where is was combined with salsa dancing from SALSAMOVES, and choreographed by Paul Harris (“the World’s only wand combat choreographer” who worked on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix amongst other flicks and TV bits).
Sevish’s music has been put out by the Dutch label Dubbhism Deluxe. In 2011, Sevish, Tony Dubshot and Jacky Ligon released an album called Subversio to online music shops and popular streaming services. In this project, each of the 3 artists provide 3 tracks each. In 2014 Sevish, Tony Dubshot and Jacky Ligon followed with 23, a mini-album inspired ironically by numerology, conspiracy and ancient knowledge.
These days Sevish makes music using Bitwig Studio, Pure Data and softsynths on Linux. Many previous recordings were made with Ableton Live, Max/MSP, Xen-Arts synths and various other softsynths.
Sevish (Sean Archibald) was born in 1988 and lives with his wife and his best friend Rocko the whippet. When he’s not making music, his “side project” is working full time as a web/hosting/dev techie guy for clients in the entertainment industry.