Sean Cleland is an award-winning songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist based out of Honolulu, Hawai'i. He is a 3-time Na Hoku Hanohano (Hawaii's state-wide equivalent of the Grammy awarded by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts) winner for 'Alternative Album of the Year' (2019, 2021, 2022). Described as an "innovative singer-songwriter and prolific performer who plays pop, rock, and soul" by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, his music can in one moment be introspective and refined, and in the next, fiery and emotional. Blending together a hooky pop-songwriting aesthetic with the raw emotion of his electric guitar, Sean traverses and synthesizes the frenetic passion of rock and blues with the sultry sounds of r&b, jazz, and soul. Beyond his full band studio recordings, he performs as a one-man looping experience, layering all the elements of a song (drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals) in a single performance. He also performs with his full band.
Artists as diverse as John Mayer, Tom Misch, Gary Clark Jr., Ryan Adams, Hozier, and James Bay may come to mind when listening to Sean. Sean's guitar playing sits on top of his compositions as a dazzling electric blend of Mayer, Misch, Eric Krasno, and Mateus Asato.
Sean's latest album is the 2021 release, "Chroma" (vol. 2)". Everything from soul and funk inflected grooves, guitar heavy blues-rockers, and intimate acoustic numbers are represented on this record. The album won the state-wide 2022 Na Hoku Hanohano Award for 'Alternative Album of the Year', as well as the 'General Engineering' award (produced by multiple Na Hoku Award-winning and Grammy-nominated producer Imua Garza). Alongside the album, Sean was also a finalist in the 'Male Vocalist of the Year' category in 2022.
His 2020 album, "Chroma (vol. 1)", won the state-wide 2021 Na Hoku Hanohano Award for 'Alternative Album of the Year'. The singles released along with this album have been featured on multiple blogs and Spotify playlists, and have received regular airplay on 90.1 FM KTUH college radio, appearing on their NACC charts for multiple weeks.
His 2018 album, “The Process Of”, won the state-wide 2019 Na Hoku Hanohano Award for 'Alternative Album of the Year'. He accompanied the album with two acclaimed music videos for the songs "Salary Man" and "Curl".
Sean has also self-produced three albums, "Wanderlust", "Silence Speaks Louder", and "The Winter Room".
He is a relentless performer, and has played at the 2020 NAMM Show, opened for multiple international acts (Iron & Wine, Houndmouth, Henry Kapono), and performed at world-class venues like Blue Note Hawaii. Sean has also had music he co-wrote placed on shows on The CW, NBC, Apple TV+, and Freeform networks. Currently Sean performs live in two basic configurations: 1) a solo act featuring a completely live (zero pre-recorded material) looping performance of vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, and sampled drums, or 2) a full band format (trio, quartet, or quintet).
Sean was born in Hawaii, but was raised in California. He is Hawaiian, Chinese, Scottish, Irish, and English. Sean began playing music at the age of 13. He also has a degree in philosophy and anthropology. After a life-changing trip across Europe and Africa 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.
Sean currently lives in Honolulu with his wife Chelsea (the owner of Rock Candy Hawaii, LLC) and their two cats, Toasty and Oslo. They are both avid travelers. Every part of his history informs his art today.