Seth Power is a prominent singer-songwriter proudly active within the Jackson, Mississippi, music scene, and has been delivering unmatched performances for years.
Power began developing his artistry and stage presence performing largely for college students in Starkville while attending Mississippi State University. The success Power gained from these college night performances ultimately led to career propelling festival bookings slated alongside Grammy-winning acts.
Utilizing a loop station to produce layers of instrumentation accompanied by catchy songwriting, his innovative, big production one-man shows have achieved a wide audience, landing him a recording deal with Toucan Cove, and presented the opportunity to compete on American Idol — compelling Lionel Richie to declare his audition performance, “…a vibe!”
With extensive influences ranging from Bill Withers to Ed Sheeran, Power’s debut album, Souvenir, testifies to his stance that genres are fading, and music is better when created free from boundaries.
Conceptually inspired primarily by his wife, Collette, and their newfound parenthood, the songs of this album delve into the most relatable emotion of all: love. The album is an exciting culmination of modern pop and soft rock, containing soulful, yet energizing melodies paired with Power’s unique songwriting voice — a refreshing lyrical style the music industry has long been craving.
Souvenir is out now on all listening platforms in addition to an acoustic re-imagining of the album’s highlights. To discuss building a successful music career, writing a song without creative borders, and bringing positivity into the world, we caught up with Power for an in-depth conversation.
It’s no secret that you are a staple of the Jackson, Mississippi, music scene. Everyone knows and respects you — the latter being the bigger testament to your character. As an artist, what is your mission?
Well first of all, thank you very much for saying that. That means a lot. When it comes to my mission as an artist, I would have to say that it continues to change as I evolve and mature as a person.
Six years ago, my answer would have been somewhere in the realm of, “I just want to make it,” which is a very unfocused way to chase success in the music industry. Now, it’s much different. Of course, my goal is to build a sustainable career, but HOW I do that and WHO I reach is much more important to me now. Lots of artists get caught up in the all or nothing mindset. I was stuck there for a little while too, but then I realized that a young artist’s career is just like a startup. You have to grow, build, expand, make mistakes, say YES to everything, and fail forward everyday. If you do, you’ll look up one day and realize that you’re a lot further down the road to success then you were when you started.
So I’d say that part one of my mission is to keep on growing, which leads me to part two: COMMUNITY. I am amazed at some of the emails and DMs I get from listeners across the globe. It’s easy to think that you’re a nobody if you don’t have songs on radio and a million Instagram followers, but when I get a message or email from someone in Tokyo or South America that says something like, “I was having a really difficult day and then I discovered your song ______. It helped me get a good cry out and I feel much better now. Thank you for your music.” To think that I can be sitting in Jackson, MS, and reach people all over the world with my music is one of the biggest blessings I can imagine. Having conversations with fans and listeners who reach out with sentiments like that has made me realize how important it is to me to work on creating a community around my music and really listening to the people who listen to me. That’s where all the love and magic comes from.
You started playing guitar and piano at a young age, but when did you first know you wanted to make music for a living?
For as long as I can remember, I always knew I wanted to make music. However, the decision to pursue it as a profession wasn’t made until I was about 22, and even then, I gave myself plenty of Plan Bs, Cs, Ds, and so forth. I wasn’t fully committed until about age 25. My wife had a big part to play in that. I seriously considered hanging it up around then because, in my mind, I needed to make more money to support her and I. She would always push back during those conversations and challenge me to keep going. Without her, I’m not sure what I’d be doing right now. Probably pursuing a PhD in business, philosophy or psychology (lol).
Throughout your songwriting career, you have tackled politics, love, and heartache, often choosing to convey these stories allegorically. Whether uplifting or convicting, what must a song of yours possess before it is unveiled?
This is a great question. When it comes to my songwriting, I’d say I’ve experienced a lot of growth over the years. Earlier on, the approach was what I would call “Outside in.” I would ask myself the question, “what’s popular and what do people want to hear?” That’s a huge mistake. That’s a follower mentality, and it’s always doomed to fail. Luckily, most of those songs never made it out to the world, haha. Nowadays, the approach is “Inside Out.” As in, I’m the first line of defense. How does the song make ME feel. Does the melody give me chills? Am I being honest with the lyrics? WHERE IS THE TRUTH? Truth is what resonates with people. Truth and authenticity. That’s something I wish I would’ve known when I was younger. Truth is what leads me nowadays when I write. If a song doesn’t resonate with me, it doesn’t make it out the gate anymore. That wasn’t the case for a while because I just didn’t have enough songs on hand to have that luxury. In the beginning, you just have to work with what you got.
You have referred to your wife, Collette, as your muse. Have your inspirations evolved since getting married?
Collette and I have known each other for over a decade now. The first song I ever wrote was about her, and the last song I write will most likely be about her. Honestly, marriage is a much more profound thing than I ever thought it would be, and our relationship has definitely strengthened since we said our vows. Seeing her as a mother has probably created the biggest shift though. There are so many layers to love and it’s truly beautiful to discover them. I have no doubt she will inspire dozens of more songs in the years to come.
After signing with Toucan Cove Entertainment, you released your debut album, Souvenir, later releasing a following EP of the same name with acoustic versions of highlights from the album. Can you elaborate on the significance of the title, as well as how you came up with the concept for the album?
Great question. I view these songs as living, breathing souvenirs. When you go somewhere, say Disney World or something, you typically purchase a souvenir so that it can serve as a memento of that experience. To me, that’s exactly what a song is, a memento that represents a larger experience. Sometimes that larger experience is love, or heartache, or anger. The point is that the song exists outside of space and time and can always be called upon so that you can relive a particular memory or experience. This album is like a box and the songs are like the little souvenirs living in that box. Now, I can pull them out at any time and relive the larger experiences that exist within them.
This new record is definitely contemporary with a soulful delivery. Being an artist with singer-songwriter roots, do you see yourself moving more towards being a pop artist?
Yes and no. Ultimately, the word ‘pop’ just means popular, but at the same time, it also seems to represent a certain style of music. To me, pop music is all about production. I definitely want to explore what the digital world of music has to offer, and I want to keep things fresh and unique as well. However, I think I’ll always gravitate back to my acoustic guitar and piano. I want my relationship with pop music to be similar to Ed Sheeran and John Mayer’s relationship to it. No one blinks an eye when Ed is on a big time pop song or collaborates with a hip-hop artist, but he’s also known for just being a guy with an acoustic guitar singing love songs. I’d like to exist in both worlds too, mostly for the sake of freedom of expression.
The poignant track, “After All” has an awakening and weeping jazz element that takes over the second instrumental chorus. “Zero Sums” has a stylized doo-wop guitar riff throughout, and “Imagine That (In the Morning),” seems to draw upon Latin Pop motifs with an energizing call-and-response pattern. What allows these seemingly contrasting influences to work so well together?
That’s a great question and it’s one that I really used to worry about. I used to ask myself the question, “does this song sound too different from my other ones?” Now, I never do that, because at the end of the day, the thing all my songs have in common is ME. I love a LOT of different styles of music. I don’t plan on restricting my creative expression just so that I can fit neatly into a particular genre. I feel like those days are quickly coming to an end. People don’t care anymore. The only thing they care about is whether or not a song speaks to them, which leads me back to the key component in every song: truth.
The acoustic EP is a stand alone work itself with production focusing more on your lyrical songwriting and showcasing your melodies. Who approached you with the idea to do this interpretation of the album?
Honestly, it was the label’s idea. When they approached me with it, I was like, “heck yeah let’s do that.” It only took one full day in the studio to cut all that new stuff and restructure the songs. It all came together quite nicely in my opinion.
What’s next for you, and what projects can your fans anticipate from you this year?
I’m working on a bunch of new songs! I’m really taking my time with these though, so I’ll most likely be releasing them as singles or in small batches. I don’t want everyone to have to wait around for another album. It takes a long time to create them and my creative process is evolving too quickly to undertake a project of that magnitude right now. I’m also working on a docu-series for Souvenir. Hopefully, I’ll be releasing episode 1 sooner rather than later!