Sean Cleland is a Na Hoku Award-winning songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist based out of Honolulu, Hawai'i. Described as an "innovative singer-songwriter and prolific performer [who] plays pop, rock, and soul" by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, his music straddles the line between new and classic, refined and raw, solitary and cosmopolitan.
Sean is the 2019 recipient of the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts' Na Hoku Hanohano Award for "Alternative Album of the Year" for his latest release, "The Process Of". The award-winning album is a 15-song collection of original music that at once sounds new - with it's melodic and singable blend of guitar-based pop, rock, and soul - while at the same time paying clear homage to the music of former eras. Echoes of John Mayer and Ryan Adams are etched across the new album that was recorded and produced in Honolulu, HI by multiple Na Hoku Award-winning producer Imua Garza at Zeo Music. Released in the spring of 2018, the tracks "Dig", "Salary Man", and "Curl" have received radio play on Star 101.9 and KZOO. The album has been covered in two TGIF features in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper, as well as multiple blogs and Spotify playlists. "The Process Of" is available now on a number of digital outlets (iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, etc.) as well as pressed to CD and double-vinyl formats (available in the Online Store). Please feel free to stream the whole album for free on Spotify.
Sean's music video for "Curl" was released in the Summer of 2019. It's brought to you by Peter Fowler of Endure Films, David Delaney of Hybrid Studios, and Imua Garza of Zeo Music, with additional footage from Mitch Martinez. Actors are: Sean Cleland and Chelsea Gines.
Sean's music video for "Salary Man" was released in the Fall of 2018. It's brought to you by Peter Fowler of Endure Films and Imua Garza of Zeo Music. Actors are: Sean Cleland, Josh ‘Hazmat’ Ulep (of America’s Best Dance Crew, America’s Got Talent, and World of Dance) and Jordan Inouye.
Sean Cleland's solo act and band seamlessly blend together singer-songwriter, rock, pop, folk, blues, r&b, and soul genres. Artists as diverse as John Mayer, Ryan Adams, The Weeknd, Hozier, Oasis, Stevie Wonder, Wilco, Ray LaMontagne, The Beatles, The Allman Brothers, Amy Winehouse, Elliott Smith, and Jimi Hendrix may come to mind when listening to Sean. He has 3-5 residencies every week at Honolulu hotels and venues with his solo act, which means he performs over 200 times every year.
He has opened for Iron & Wine (2018) and Houndmouth (2016) at Honolulu's famed Republik, as well as performed at the 2019 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, Blue Note Hawaii, Aloha Stadium, Hawaii News Now, KHON, KITV, The Perry & Price Show, and Pakele Live (his particular concerts are still currently airing on tv channel OC16). Sean was selected as one of 13 participants in the 2018 Creative Lab Hawaii Music Immersive where he had the opportunity to co-write for sync alongside incredible artists & producers such as SYML, Katie Herzig, Amy Stroup, Rob Kleiner, Butterfly Boucher, and Marlin "Hookman" Bonds. The song "Lost Myself", which he co-wrote and played guitar on with Gold Brother and Amy Stroup, was featured on the NBC series "The Village" (episode #1006) and Freeform's series "Good Trouble" (episode #1013). He also participated as an alumni songwriter in the 2019 Creative Lab Hawaii Music Immersive, once again co-writing and pitching songs for sync licensing. Sean has also been selected as a finalist in the state of Hawaii for the KHON X Factor Audition Pass Contest, a semi-finalist in the Hard Rock Rising competition, and a semi-finalist in the RAW Awards. He is currently a member of The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and The Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts (HARA).
Sean was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, but was raised for most of his life in northern California. He began playing music at the age of 13, and has never looked back. He attended college in southern California earning a degree in Philosophy, all the while playing and honing what he knew to be his primary passion - music. He returned to the islands in 2009 and immediately felt a deep connection to his Hawaiian heritage as he began to develop his music career in earnest (his mother is Hawaiian-Chinese, his father is Scots-Irish/English). Every part of his history informs his art today.
Prior to his latest solo release, Sean most recently led the band The Hollow Spheres, who blended elements of current and classic rock, pop, and soul, along with hints of both jazz and art rock. Their 2015 EP release, "Wanderlust" was engineered, mixed, and produced by Sean, and mastered by Milan Bertosa in Honolulu, HI. Imagine a meeting of the minds between Pink Floyd and Steely Dan in their heyday, coupled with a healthy dose of dreamy rock songwriting - all brought to you from underneath a palm tree. The Hollow Spheres had an infectious stylistic blend of American/Britpop nostalgia and pop-nuanced rock. In June of 2016, The Hollow Spheres were selected as one of four local finalists for the Hard Rock Rising 2016 International competition, and were also one of ten winners in the 2016 NextNext competition. Their earlier 2010 EP "Silence Speaks Louder" is still available. They were also included on the Mountain Apple Company/Soul Sounds internationally distributed release "Alternative HI" for their single "Lights". Songs off of "Wanderlust" are still featured regularly on radio station Star 101.9 FM.
In 2009 Sean self-produced and released a short 7-song solo album titled "The Winter Room" that featured music in the indie/folk-pop style of Elliott Smith, Jose Gonzalez, Iron & Wine, Nick Drake, Bon Iver, and Sam Prekop.
In describing the difference between his musical projects, Sean told Vina Ibay of Art + Flea, "The Hollow Spheres was the place for extended arrangements and a spacier, more ambiguous feel, whereas my solo act gives off a more grounded, earthier, 'singer-songwriter'-like vibe. In both cases, I try to make my music both interesting and accessible."
Sean has also played regularly with Na Hoku Award-nominated artist Tahiti Rey and toured Japan with indie rock band Linus (playing at the renowned venue Womb in Tokyo). He has also been a semi-finalist in the Mai Tai Bar Rumble with blues-rock band The VeJJs.
Sean has played music for 22 years in a variety of performing bands spanning many genres, and has studied with private instructors for guitar (focusing on rock, jazz, blues, classical, and r&b styles) and voice (focusing on the Speech-Level Singing method) for most of these years. He has also taken multiple courses from Berklee College of Music as well as performance & music theory classes while earning his B.A. in Philosophy & Anthropology at the University of California - Irvine. He also holds certification in Pro Tools 201, 110, and 101 from The Recording Arts Center (TRAC) in San Diego.
- -In July of 2019, Sean participated as an alumni songwriter in the 2019 Creative Lab Hawaii Music Immersive, once again co-writing and pitching songs for sync licensing.
- -In the Summer of 2019, Sean released the music video for "Curl".
- -In May of 2019, Sean was awarded the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts' Na Hoku Hanohano Award for "Alternative Album of the Year" for "The Process Of". He also performed live at the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards Ceremony.
- -In the Fall of 2018, Sean released the music video for "Salary Man".
- -In July of 2018, Sean was one of thirteen participants in the 2018 Creative Lab Hawaii Music Immersive where he had the opportunity to co-write for sync licensing with incredible artists/producers like SYML, Katie Herzig, Amy Stroup, Rob Kleiner, Butterfly Boucher, and Marlin "Hookman" Bonds.
- -In June of 2018, Sean performed solo at HiSAM museum and on a live video broadcast of Pakele Live.
- -In May of 2018, Sean opened for Iron & Wine at Honolulu's Republik
- -In March of 2018, Sean released "The Process Of", a 15-song all-original album produced by Imua Garza (and celebrated at an album release show at Hawaiian Brian's on March 3, 2018); the tracks "Dig", "Salary Man", and "Curl" are still featured on radio station Star 101.9; Sean was featured in two Honolulu Star-Advertiser TGIF articles promoting the album.
- -The Hollow Spheres Pakele Live concert (from 2015) is still being shown on TV channel OC16 two years after the initial recording.
- -In the Fall of 2016, The Hollow Spheres were selected as one of ten winners in the NextNext competition.
- -In June of 2016, The Hollow Spheres were selected as one of four local finalists for the Hard Rock Rising 2016 International competition
- -In March of 2016, The Hollow Spheres opened for national Americana/rock act Houndmouth at The Republik
- -In June of 2015, The Hollow Spheres released their self-produced EP "Wanderlust" (and performed at Aloha Stadium, HNN, KHON, KITV, Perry & Price, etc. as part of a publicity push).
- -In May of 2014, Sean toured with rock band Linus in Japan.
- -In November 2012, Sean became a semi-finalist for RAW Awards as a solo act.
- -In October 2012, one of Sean's bands, The VeJJs, became semi-finalists in the Mai Tai Rumble.
- -In April 2012, Sean was selected as 1 of 25 finalists in the state of Hawaii for the "KHON X Factor Audition Pass Contest" as a solo act.
- -In 2011, The Hollow Spheres' track "Lights" was included on the “Alternative HI” compilation album (recorded at Soul Sound Records by Shawn Moseley and Brandon Apeles, and distributed internationally by Mountain Apple Company) and got played regularly on Star 101.9 FM.
- -In 2010, The Hollow Spheres released their self-produced EP "Silence Speaks Louder".
- -In 2009, Sean released a self-produced solo record titled "The Winter Room".
Sean has played (or currently plays) at venues such as:
- Blue Note Hawaii, The Republik, Womb (Tokyo), Hard Rock Honolulu, Hawaii Convention Center (Na Hoku Hanohano Awards), Workplay, Market Restaurant, Horizon Grill, and BLT Market at The Ritz-Carlton, O Bar & Swell Bar at The Alohilani, LBLE at the Hilton, Kuhio Beach Grill and Moana Terrace at The Marriott, Tommy Bahama, The Study at The Modern, Rumfire and Edge Bar at The Sheraton, Haus Supper Club, Wai'olu Lounge at Trump Hotel, Princess Ka'iulani, Outrigger Canoe Club, Hyatt Centric, Tiki's Bar & Grill, Duke's Waikiki, Hawaii Public Radio, Star 101.9 FM, KTUH 90.3FM, HiSAM, Hawaii News Now - Sunrise Show, Perry & Price Show, SKY Waikiki, Aloha Stadium, Kincaid's, Pakele Live (The Willows Restuarant), Mori, Hickam Harbor, Honolulu State Art Museum, Bethel Street Tap Room, Buho Cocina Y Cantina, Halekulani, Lanikuhonua, Aston Waikiki, KITV Morning Show, KHON Morning Show, Turtle Bay, Hale Koa Barefoot Bar, Shokudo, The Modern, Maui Brewing Company, Top Of Waikiki, The Hyatt, Jimmy Buffett's, The Row Bar, The M, The Plaza Club, Bishop Museum, Pearl Ultralounge, The Crown Bar, Park Restaurant, BambuTwo Lounge, Mai Tai Bar, Kumu Kahua Theatre, ARTS at Mark's, Cheeseburger Waikiki, Honolulu Elks Club, Hallowbaloo Music & Arts Festival, First Friday in Chinatown, The Honolulu Museum of Art, Moose McGillicuddy's, Downbeat Diner & Lounge, Rivals Sports Bar, Aloha Beer Company, ThirtyNineHotel, Brasserie Du Vin, Bar 35, Jazz Minds Art & Cafe, Next Door, Grand Leyenda Cantina, Station Bar, Irish Rose Saloon, Apartm3nt, Mercury Bar, Vice Nightclub, Hawaiian Brian's, Wahoo's, Cha-Cha-Cha Salsaria, Anna O'Brien's, among many others.