THE SEA CHANGE is a storyteller/songwriter collaboration. Through their years of music making they’ve developed close ties with reknowned international studio musicians. These musicical friendships provide the flavours and colours of 30 years of their projects.

Their songs are soulful narratives; imbued with the melancholy of the Blues, the heartbreak of French Chanson, the “groove” of “vintage” Soul, the sophistication of Jazz and the no-holds-barred joy of Folk, Latin and Rock’n Roll – all woven into the poetic beauty of their writing. The Sea Change albums are sophisticated independent productions; they are timeless, deep and yet catchy.

The founders and creative minds are:

THE VOICE & THE LYRICS

RALF WALTER MARQUARDT

Singer · Lyricist · Co-Producer
Passionate Poet

CONTACT
THE MUSIC & THE SOUND

SVEN GORDON WILLIAMS

Composer · Arranger · Sound Engineer · Producer
Passionate Multi-Instrumentalist

CONTACT

The initial spark that was to be the founding moment of the band The Sea Change ignited with the crack and bang of festive fireworks...

On New Year’s Eve 1990, a handful of people got together to celebrate. Bob Geldof’s scratchy voice on The Great Song Of Indifference rumbled from the hi-fi speakers. After copious amounts of wine and some exuberant dancing, two perfect strangers – Ralf and Sven – sang out in unison with Sir Bob: „I don’t mind at all!“ – It was definitely the right kiss-my-ass-song to set the tone for what was to become a long-term, productive collaboration.

They liked each other from the get-go and making music together became their great passion.

After getting to know each other a little better it turned out they had very similar musical tastes. They were enthralled by the same modern day storytellers in music such as Lou Reed, Randy Newman and Tom Waits. Besides the wine they shared a similar taste in French Chanson, and beyond that, Jazz, Soul and all kinds of latin Music – Two suburban soul mates had found each other.

SVEN, an irish-scottish-born boy from Edinburgh who later grew up in Reinbek near Hamburg, started his musical career as a young lad in a marching band. 

In his early teens, Sven experienced an essential and formative moment watching the musical wizardry of jazz rock band Changes at the JUZ – Reinbeks youth centre, a stone throw from Reinbeks famous castle. Standing in the front row, Sven caught the attention of band leader Achim Seidel, who asked him to come up on stage and play percussion with the band. Sven, feeling trepidation and excitement simultaneously, seized the moment to accompany Seidel’s virtuositic combo with both hands.

After this random initiation rite Sven worked hard over the summer holidays to get his first instruments. He became an accomplished drummer at an early age and was the rhythmic backbone for many local heroes in the early 80s – which only served to wet his appetite for more.

From the very beginning, he had a craving for ever more musical knowledge, studying arrangement and composition, learning to play guitar and piano, acquiring the sound engineer’s tools of the trade and  setting up his own recording studio. At the same time, he began to build an eclectic collection of important recordings, which is still growing today.

RALF’s musical awakening was a little different.

The boy from Hamburg’s large harbor district of Harburg hung out with his mate Bernd almost every day at the local record shop. There, fit up with big headphones and not giving a damn about homework, he listened for hours to all the brand new records. At home he would continue his aural education, listening to Roxy Music and the Stones’ Route 66 on his three inch speakers.

To this day he is a passionate collector of vinyl.

For his 14th birthday his grandma gave him the money to buy his first electric guitar –  a Framus in cherry red. Soon he and his friend Bernd began to tape their first recordings in the boiler room of his parents house. 

In 1979 he took a break from making music. He sold all his belongings on the Hamburg Fish-Market in order to get away from the suburbs and travel abroad. 

After a wild and heart breaking 2 year affair with Post-Punk-London, he returned to Hamburg and moved in again with his old buddy Bernd.

A creative period of songwriting ensued as he got to grips with themes of love, lust, loss and the endless search for wisdom and understanding. 

It was in Hamburg that Ralf and Sven’s paths crossed at the beginning of 1991 and the project THE SEA CHANGE was formed. The clear division of labour in the project became quickly apparent; with Ralf focusing on the lyrics and his role as the singer of the band and Sven composing, recording, arranging and producing the songs – all in all it turn out to be a perfect combination.

The band’s appearance is in the talented hands of Sven, who is an award-winning designer in his second job. Ralf & Sven both have a passion for photography, what, within the years, came out quiet handy. However, to this day the band’s photographer and videographer of choice is Steven Haberland!

They differ however, in some artistic aspects. Ralf’s vocals resemble somewhat the lonesome-rider voice of a Leonard Cohen or the darker hues of a storytelling Tom Waits. Sven also feels connected to lighter voices like those of Amos Lee or Damien Rice and how they play with melody and harmony. Ralf loves the beauty of simplicity, Sven loves complex and refined arrangements. Svens songwriting is inspired by the poetry of Twain, Yeats and Kipling, and by modern urban writers such as Nick Hornby and Bruce Chatwin whilst Ralf appreciates a wide range of writers from the linguistic laconism of Hemingway to the crime novels of Martin Suter – yet both of them share a love of Shakespeare. 

In THE SEA CHANGE, they try to incorporate all of these different influences.

The fact that only Ralf and Sven are mentioned as band members is as it should be – they are founders and songwriters, the heart and head of this singular musical project. Nevertheless, for each of their six albums, they have secured the talents of some highly rated musicians, both domestic and foreign. Out of deep respect for all those involved in these productions, their contributions are named on their albums and website.

Their collaboration with Jazz legend and trumpet virtuoso LEW SOLOFF was one outstanding moment and deserves a special mention here. He died March 8. 2015 at the age of 71 in New York – His powerful and elegant playing is forever preserved on their 2004 album “Moby Dick”.

 

“Although I am a lover of simple ballads with clear melodies and rhythms, what I like about Sven’s compositions are their diverse arrangements and fine-tuned presentation. They roll out a magic carpet for his partner Ralf, on which he can float away. And we, the listeners, can step up and join them on their exhilarating journeys.”

 

Natias Neutert, Total Artist

January 2022