2019 Na Hoku Hanohano Alternative Album of the Year
“Innovative singer-songwriter and prolific performer plays pop, rock, and soul.”
— Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Sean Cleland is a Na Hoku Hanohano 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 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.
His solo act and band seamlessly blend together singer-songwriter, rock, pop, blues, r&b and soul genres. Artists as diverse as John Mayer, 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 SRV, Hendrix, and Mateus Asato.
Sean's latest single, “Three (For You)” is a meditative look at the past. Acoustic guitars and piano intertwine on a perpetually moving figure, while harmony vocals shimmer behind the confessional lead vocal. The narrator speaks to the parental love that we often take for granted: “There was love before I knew it’s name, but I felt it just the same. Maybe I can give back some of what you gave. I owe everything I’ve become to you”. And reflects on the regrets of the past: “Hold on, because that wasn’t me. I see now your love was given for free. I was wrong for most of the time, a love absentee”. The song is grounded in it’s acoustic simplicity, but is ethereal as well, drawing comparisons to artists like Fleet Foxes and Iron & Wine. “Can I take a moment to retrieve the single syllable that we all need? A parent’s love is the only reason I’m me. I miss how things used to be. When it was just us three.”
His five other recent singles are “Ego” (an effortless groove, blending elements of ambient pop, rock, and jamband styles into a soulful mix perfect for a chill Sunday), "White Noise" (evoking the ambient textures of Boards of Canada and late-era Radiohead), “No Ceiling Above” (a rocker that bursts with blues-rock swagger in the same vein as Led Zeppelin, Rival Sons, or The Black Keys), " Misfit" (a funky track in the musical neighborhood of Lettuce, Soulive, or Jamiroquai) and "Wake" (shades of Mayer Hawthorne or a jazzier John Mayer). These singles will be compiled into the 8-song album "Chroma (vol. 2)" by the end of 2021.
His most recent album is "Chroma (vol. 1)" (released in December of 2020). It features the previously released 2020 singles "Comfort Kills" (feat. ATOM), "Able (Break The Clock)", "Aim Higher", "Sleepless", "Cheap Thrills", and "Chroma", as well as 3 additional songs. The singles have been featured on multiple blogs and Spotify playlists. The album has already received regular airplay on 90.1 FM KTUH college radio, appearing on their NACC charts for multiple weeks. All tracks and albums are available to stream at the links above or for purchase in the store.
Sean is the 2019 recipient of the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts' state-wide 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 and Grammy-nominated 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.
His 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 has opened for Iron & Wine (2018) and Houndmouth (2016) at Honolulu's famed Republik, as well as performed at the 2020 NAMM Show, 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). 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. 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 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. Sean has also self-produced three albums, "Wanderlust", "Silence Speaks Louder", and "The Winter Room", prior to his latest solo release. 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 the northern California wine country. He is Hawaiian-Chinese and Scots-Irish/English. Sean began playing music at the age of 13, and has never looked back. He attended college in southern California earning a degree in philosophy and anthropology, all the while playing and honing what he knew to be his primary passion - music. After a life-changing backpacking trip across Europe and parts of north 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 and their two cats, Toasty and Oslo. They are both avid travelers, and have satisfied their wanderlust in places like Kenya, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, China, Japan, Norway, Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, England, Scotland, and Switzerland.
Every part of his history informs his art today.
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