Bands You Should Know About: Seattle’s Hey Marseilles

I devour music and books like organic salad. Okay, Toblerone bars. I’m guessing if I don’t have something particularly pertinent to share in a blog, a lot of my blogs will be about bands I adore.

If you haven’t already found the group Hey Marseilles through Hydraulic Level 5’s previous incarnation, at Seattle’s Bumbershoot, or at your local music venue, I’d like to introduce them to you. A rising star from the Seattle burbs, Hey Marseilles has this unique, eclectic sound that takes bits and pieces from all sorts of musical genres—folk, rock, orchestral. They are so stinking fun in concert, with their array of percussion and accordions, strings and brass.  What really drew me in, though, is they connected to my little writer’s heart. A couple of years ago, I had the chance to chat briefly with lead vocalist Matt Bishop at Seattle’s Sausage Fest (how awesome a festival is that?), who commented that he failed his college poetry class. To that professor with their head up their tush , I say “boooo.”  Their lyrics are pure poetry, vivid imagery, thoughtful, an eloquent use of rhythm and sound:

I am leaving harbor if you cannot remember
Take me where you’re going in the light shade of December
The plains I see are floating, the grains I see are growing
Take me to the only place I see you’re going

[excerpt from “Café Lights”, Lines We Trace]

And they know how to tell a story—through lyrics, and also by creating both nostalgia and suspense in the music itself with swells of strings, unresolved chords, and building percussion. Then, at the end, they bring sweet catharsis by resolving that tension. It’s just one big musical climax, so awesome.  Case in point, from their first album, To Travels and Trunks, is “Calabasas” (which is on the Hydraulic Level 5 playlist):

So, I’m having a baby Monday (by the time this blog goes up, baby will probably already be here!) Imagine my delight then instant sorrow when I saw that Hey Marseilles was finally coming to D-town (that’s Des Moines, not Detroit)…three days before baby’s arrival. But, like the dedicated music aficionado I fancy myself to be, I’m heading out to Vaudeville Mews with the lovely Linzk78 and our husbands, 40-week watermelon tummy in tow.  Call it a last hurrah before I hole up for a while with my precious but exhausting little one. Thanks, Hey Marseilles, for the send-off.



  1. Kassiah
    KassiahJune 15, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Love this song! Congrats on the little one ♥

  2. Kassiah
    KassiahAugust 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Just checking in. You’re pretty.

    1. SarahAugust 8, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      Your site design is pretty, as are you!

  3. Marv Bell
    Marv BellAugust 24, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Sarah, this is your BC English teacher, Marv Bell, now retired after 47 years of teaching. Your sister sent me your website address. I am proud of each of you and your individual accomplishments. Keep up the good work. —Marv Bell

    1. SarahSeptember 2, 2013 at 9:50 am

      Mr. Bell! It’s amazing to hear from you. Thank you immensely for everything you and the other BC teachers shared with me–most importantly, the emphasis on storytelling. When I was working on my thesis, Mary Swander (Iowa’s Poet Laureate) commented that she’s met several great writers who’d graduated from BC, and we must have really good English teachers. I agree! Keep in touch, please. S

  4. Lindsay
    LindsayAugust 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    It was an awesome concert !! So excited to get my hands on a copy of HL5!!!! So proud of you!

  5. Natalie
    NatalieSeptember 3, 2013 at 4:20 am


    Congratulations on the publication of HL5.

    I know these beloved characters mean an enormous amount to you, and I very much look forward to reading HL5 with fresh eyes to see how you’ve evolved their stories.

    I hope that many others will come to love this story as much as I always have.

    Good luck with everything.


    1. SarahSeptember 3, 2013 at 5:03 am

      Hey Nat! Thank you so much! It has been quite an experience so far. The thing I’m most happy about is really making this story what it was meant to be, as much as I can with the limIted experience I have. Omjific has done a lovely job with its edit and assembly–it really is lovely. Do you still have my email? If not, use the contact form here and I’ll make sure you get it so we can keep in touch 🙂

  6. Leanne
    LeanneSeptember 6, 2013 at 6:24 am

    I”m so thrilled you’ve gotten this published. Honestly, Hydraulic Level 5 is one of my favorite stories. And I can’t thank you enough for the introduction to Hey Marseilles. I’ve seen them twice now and you are right about how much fun they are to see live. I cannot believe Matt failed his Poetry class! That man can tell a complete story in one sentence and bring the reader along for the ride before they even know what hit them. They’ll be back in Minneapolis in October and I’m hoping to catch them again. Congrats on your little one…exhasuting as it is, being a mom is great!
    Good luck to you and all your future endeavors!

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