This Seattle-based triple threat is not only a singer/songwriter marvel, but a producer as well. He aims to erase the division lines between people by bringing them together through his all-encompassing electro pop music. He has even dubbed his emotional electro pop music as ‘emotronic.’ This emotronic music is a mix of electronic, emo, and 80’s synth to create pure gold. His lyrics cover a wide variety of issues facing people today, everything from rebellion to heartbreak. More recently is his new song “Remedy” where he sings about trying to heal from the tragic aftermath of a terrorist attack.
From a lyrical standpoint “Remedy” starts out the way most people feel after tragedy. “I’ve been busy overthinking everything.” He goes on to say, “Too busy to stop/too busy for feeling/but the feeling caught up to me.” I feel as though at this moment he is trying to keep himself distracted from the pain, but regardless, the pain always seeps back in. The song ends with the lyrics “I found the remedy,” which begs the question, what is it?
What amazes me so much about this song is how catchy it is for such a somber subject. I credit the song’s four chord progression to its sound. It’s not extremely upbeat nor is it completely sad. Though this song has a much deeper meaning than “danceability” it’s perfectly crafted so that the listener finds themselves swaying to the music and hearing the melody in their head long after the song ends.
It is clear to me that CEEM puts his heart, soul, and emotion into his music and to me that is exactly what defines a great artist. Someone who can put who they are and what they feel into their music is always an inspiration to me. Ceem is so boldly honest that, for me at least, his music goes farther than inspirational. It’s heartfelt and important for others to hear because it reaches into the darkness many people face after living through a terrorist attack and it lets them know that people care and that they are never alone. But what is the remedy? I’d say the remedy was the music. Writing it down, speaking his truth, and allowing that truth to help others come together, but the best way to find out for sure is to ask him ourselves. Luckily for us we’ve been given the chance!
☽ My first question is just a bit on the nose, seeing as I’ve already hinted at it. What was your thought process while writing “Remedy”?
When I started writing Remedy, I didn’t have a thought process. I went back to Nice France summer of 2019, looking for something, but I didn’t know what that something was. I just felt that I needed to go back. While I was there, I started to feel this weight lifting off of me, and that is what inspired Remedy. I set up a kind of mobile recording studio while I was there, and Remedy just poured out of me. It was really weird because I think a lot about lyrics and exactly the words that I want to use, and I edit a lot, but Remedy just poured out of my pen and onto the paper without having to think much about it. The one thing I did know is, I wanted a specific sound and it had to be in a major key. That sounds so dorky, but I wanted the song to contrast with another track “Unbreakable” because they are two sides of the same coin.
☽Tragedy is a part of life but your ability to turn your personal pain into a song that resonates with so many people is incredibly inspiring. It causes me to wonder who are your greatest musical inspirations both past and present?
I have so many musical inspirations, but the artists that have really resonated with me throughout my life, are David Bowie and Madonna. They both taught me the power of creativity and being fearless. The death of David Bowie is actually what inspired Cruel World. Other inspiring artists that I look up to are Lady Gaga, again for the power of being fearless and owning who you are. Another awesome band I’ve loved for years is Siouxsie and the Banshees. When I first heard Peekaboo I couldn’t make sense of it and I became obsessed!
☽What drew you to a life pursuing music? Was there ever anything else you wanted to do or have you always known that music was meant for you?
Music was always meant for me. There was a time where I ignored writing music thinking it would never happen, but when you know that you’re meant to do something, that something stays with you and it makes itself known like a voice inside your head. For me that voice was getting louder and louder and wouldn’t go away until I addressed it, and I’m so happy that I did. There were other things that I’ve wanted to pursue, like getting my MBA, but nothing compares to how I feel writing and creating music. My goal is to be able to inspire others the same way that I have been inspired by writing music.
☽If you could collaborate with anyone, alive or passed on, who would you choose and why?
It may sound super weird, but I’d love to collaborate with Mozart or Beethoven. Can you imagine that talent using today’s tools and technology, what they would create! But also David Bowie, he was so multi-faceted and had such a unique perspective, and how he told stories and those visualized those stories in his videos always blows me away.
☽What is it that you hope “Remedy” conveys to your audience?
My hope for Remedy is that it conveys the message that whatever struggle people are feeling or going through, there’s hope, there’s a way to turn it around. The process of turning it around might be painful, but it will be worth it in the end. The opening line “I’ve been busy overthinking everything”, is really to convey the message that we all overthink things, and our minds get stuck on something, but we have to make space and time for ourselves to go through the process of feeling if we’re going to get through it.
☽If you have any fans who want to pursue music as you have, do you have any tips for them?
Keep doing you! So many people think that they have to conform to some sort of stereotype or a particular sound, and I think that’s total B.S. Find and develop a sound and keep writing, never stop writing, regardless of how bad you think something is or thinking about how other people will receive it. As an artist it’s not up to us, we have to create a space to allow art and music to happen and share what we’ve created.
☽As chaotic as the world has become, it is important to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. If it’s not too personal, may I ask what a few of those simple pleasures are that you enjoy?
Totally not too personal at all. I live in Seattle and I’m surrounded by so many things to do and places to go. I like being outside, getting out of the city and going up into the mountains and hike and absorb the silence and stillness. I also really like to travel and have a personal goal of getting out of the US at least twice a year. My first big trip out of the US was a month I spent in India, and I learned so much about the world and about myself, that I became curious and needed to see the world. Also in my travels going to museums and taking in all the art I can, and learning about new artists and how they create and learning their stories, it’s just inspirational.
☽Of all the wonderful songs you’ve created, one of my favorites is “Better Than That.” Do you have a favorite of your own?
Thank you for that. My favorite song that I’ve written would have to be “Instigator”, because it’s literally telling people exactly who I am. I am a person that is hard to handle, and fearlessly independent, and people aren’t able to control me, so it’s my favorite because it’s a declaration.
☽In “Remedy”, I took away that it was in search of healing from the chaos and the pain following the terrorist attack, which you first wrote about in “Unbreakable.” If you had to offer up one remedy for life’s difficult moments what would it be?
Wow, that’s a tough one to answer, but I’d have to say don’t bottle things up or keep things inside. As soon as I came back from Nice in 2016 I talked to people, I shared my story immediately. By sharing my story and talking to people it became a type of therapy for me, not to say it was always easy telling the story, but it definitely helped. I’d also add to that finding your tribe, those people that you can surround yourself with and be one-hundred percent authentic. I have a small but tight group of friends that I know will always have my back, and we check in on each other to make sure we’re all doing ok.
☽Do you have anything you’d like to say to any of your fans out there that are in a difficult place in their lives right now?
Yes! I think as individuals, when we are going through a difficult time, it’s hard to see our way out of it. We get stuck feeling like this is how it’s going to be forever, but it won’t be like this forever, things will change, things will get better, you will turn the corner and leave that difficult place behind. Just keep reminding yourself that whatever the situation is, it’s only temporary. I have to remind myself that things are temporary all the time and it seems to help.
Thank you so much for allowing me to share more of my story.