The Sea The Sea
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The Sea The Sea

Albany, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Albany, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Pop Folk




""...lush, intuitive, enveloping harmonies...""

Everything about The Sea The Sea is focused on balance, from their rhythmic, repetitive band name to the palindrome for which they titled their full-length debut, 'Love We Are We Love.' The duo – Mira Stanley and Chuck E. Costa – have only been making music together for a little over two years, but in that time have set their sights on striking this delicate but reliable mix.

The disc is packed with languid melodies and less-is-more instrumentation, made ever more haunting by the pair’s lush, intuitive, enveloping harmonies. Producer Todd Sickafoose (Anais Mitchell, Nels Andrews) kept the spirit of the music understated without sacrificing any of The Sea The Sea’s apparent instinct toward fullness. That alone takes some crafty wielding, but luckily the songs are built on a strong foundation of Costa and Stanley’s languid poetry. The lyrics are full of flowers and birds, wind and rain, and the revelations that come from considering these natural metaphors deeply.

Like a boat set adrift on the sea, their music allows plenty of room for silence and storm, subtlety and fullness. From the spirited title track to the spacious and banjo-driven “Boat Song”, 'Love We Are We Love' depicts a two-voiced effort which never rests entirely on the quiet, understated expectation most folks usually attach to a singer-songwriter duo. - It First

""Two of the loveliest male-female voices you might ever hear this or any other year...""

On this first day of spring, flowers are blooming and romance is in the air, signaling a fresh start in life or renewed hope and faith. As birds chirp and bees buzz, what cannot be denied is love, promising love.

A smart, sweet and embraceable singing-songwriting duo known as The Sea The Sea convey all those feelings in a what's-old-is-new video that premieres here today.

"Fists Full of Flowers" is a beautiful song from The Sea The Sea's outstanding debut album, Love We Are We Love. The February release is loaded with tender, swoon-worthy tunes driven by rapt lyrics, sparse accompaniment, gorgeous harmonizing and a matchmaker's dream -- two of the loveliest male-female voices you might ever hear this or any other year.

Chuck E. Costa and Mira Stanley are The Sea The Sea, and listening to them wrap their words and melodies around each other on record is a calming, enthralling and, yes, aurally pleasurable experience. If Joni Mitchell and Elvis Costello had ever decided back in the day to write, sing and make a duets record together, it might've sounded something like this.

Costa, who went to high school in Staten Island, New York, and majored in philosophy at the University of Colorado in Boulder, met Stanley prior to a showcase event at a 2006 songwriting contest she had volunteered to stage-manage.

They formed The Sea The Sea in fall 2011, plunging into ancient history to take their group name from a chant by joyous Greek soldiers upon their return home after an inland struggle described in Xenophon's Anabasis.

Like most musicians, they spend most of their time on the road, with shows lined up this spring from the Midwest to the South to the East Coast. When they're not touring, Costa and Stanley divide time between East Chatham, New York, and Charleston, West Virginia.

Stanley, who attended high school in Charleston, studied theatre and dance at Boston Conservatory and the University of Michigan, and considers herself "a closet visual artist," edited the "Fists Full of Flowers" video that includes clips from Charlie Chaplin's silent films.

"We were drawn to use silent film footage because of the expressiveness of the interactions between characters, and also the quirky but beautiful uses of special effects at the time that feel like art pieces in and of themselves," Stanley offered in an email.

"They don't make 'em like they used to. Also, within that, there's this recurring idea in the song of things still being beautiful when they're old, and I think that's one of the magical things about film -- we're able to appreciate it now, so many years later. And then to look at someone like Charlie Chaplin -- seeing him then, and knowing now even after his passing how many beautiful things he left in the world."
So get ready to fall in love, either for the first time or all over again, by soaking in the black-and-white simplicity of "Fists Full of Flowers," its artistry enhanced with the natural ease of these two kindred spirits.

Then after watching the video, get to know the real-life couple behind the song and inspirational creation that is Love We Are We Love.

To celebrate that spring has sprung and continue the theme involving matters of the heart, Chuck E. Costa and Mira Stanley (whose birthday was March 19) agreed to play 20 Questions on the road to Cleveland, providing responses via email. They were given the option to pass on certain questions and reply either together or separately.

1. Who's the silent film buff?
Mira: I wouldn't call either of us silent film buffs, though maybe that will change now. This video process has definitely given us a different appreciation for them. Chuck is the non-silent film buff, however. I'm one of those people who has some almost embarrassing voids in my movie education. But I'm working on it!

2. How does Charlie Chaplin best illustrate "Fists Full of Flowers"?
Mira: (Beyond what I already mentioned...), there's something almost musical about the way Charlie Chaplin moves that seemed to fit so perfectly with the song.

3. What's your favorite romantic movie (and why)?
Mira & Chuck: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Hands down. It's an incredible movie for so many reasons, but it's also such a perfect illustration of how two people who are connected can find each other despite the odds.

4. Who's the more romantic of the two of you (and why)?
No reply

THE_SEA_THE_SEA5. What mode of transportation do you prefer for a romantic getaway -- plane, train, automobile or cruise ship (after all, you are The Sea The Sea)?

Chuck: Electric car! What's more romantic than saving the world?! But seriously, we've been touring in a Chevy Volt since last year and it is amazing. It does feel like we're doing our small part to move things in a forward direction. Although we still use fuel, the Volt has cut our consumption by about a third. And we do a LOT of driving :) We don't normally characterize our tours as romantic getaways, but they're about all we have time for right now, and they're really fun!

6. How did you both celebrate Valentine's Day?
Mira & Chuck: Dinner with Chuck's sister, brother-in-law and nephews. Ha!

7. What's the most romantic thing you've ever done?
Mira & Chuck: Deciding to give up our day jobs and make music together.

8. When you want to get in the mood, whose album (other than your own) do you play?
No reply

9. Who's your most serious celebrity crush (and why)?
Chuck: Zach Galafanakis :) "A day without laughter is a day wasted." -- Charlie Chaplin

Mira: Jimmy Fallon. I was a seat-filler at the Tony Awards for three years, during which you are instructed not to schmooze and bother the celebrities. But one year, Jimmy Fallon was there in support of Avenue Q and they sat me next to him for a few minutes, and he was the only person who ever spoke to me and asked me about myself, and was just incredibly kind (not that anyone else was ever rude or anything). It was just unexpected and I appreciated it.

10. What was your first kiss-and-tell kiss like (and feel free to share any juicy details)?
Mira & Chuck: Keeping this one private! ha :)

11. Best pickup line you've ever (or never) used?
Chuck: "If I come back to Michigan / will we kiss again?" (From "In the Dark").

12. What's the most romantic line in a song you've written (and did you try it as a pickup line)?
See #11.

13. What's the most romantic song you've written?
Mira: There are a few, but "Fists Full of Flowers" is one that I love because I think it honors and embraces just being present in the world together wherever you, we are in our lives. It celebrates all of the "good" and "bad" things that have happened in life that make you who you are. Loving and being loved unconditionally, for all of our imperfections and fallibilities, feels like the most romantic thing ever.

14. Borrowed from Almost Famous: Do you have to be in love to write a love song?
Chuck: We have this belief that all songs are love songs. Writing, singing and sharing songs is one of the deepest forms of connection with other people that there is. So engaging in songwriting at all feels, in a way, like an act of love.

15. Which is easier -- writing a song together or separately?
Mira & Chuck: It depends. Lately we're in a co-writing flow. It isn't all that different, though, to be honest at this point. We're comfortable enough around each other now to put forth whatever thoughts -- however seemingly ridiculous -- are buzzing around in our brains...including the hilarious voice memos of nonsensical word melodies.

16. In case the Bee Gees never answered this: How can you mend a broken heart?
Mira & Chuck: Honesty. Time. Music.

17. What singing couple do you relate to the most (and why)?
No reply

18. Who is your favorite TV couple (and why)?
Mira & Chuck: Eric and Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights. They're this decade's version of (The Cosby Show's) Cliff and Clair Huxtable.

19. If you didn't make music, what would you love to be doing?
Mira & Chuck: That's difficult to imagine now, but we'd both probably be working with kids in some capacity (both facilitate songwriting workshops with children) and/or still be involved in the arts in some other way.

20. Choose your most romantic way to spend an evening:
A. Sitting in front of a raging fire with a glass of wine and a great book;
B. Binge-watching a TV show's entire first season on DVD or Netflix with a bowl of popcorn and your significant other;
C. Staying in bed and getting an uninterrupted eight-hour's sleep with only Mr. Sandman at your side;
D. Predictability aside, taking your loved one on a dinner-and-movie date night.
E. None of the above (supply your own answer).
Mira & Chuck: F. All of the above? We're fans of long walks...on the beach or anywhere :) - Huffington Post

"Mind-Blowing Music Video / "...five-and-a-half minutes of audiovisual perfection...""

This is the music video for “Waiting,” the 12th track off of folk duo The Sea The Sea’s self-released album, “Love We Are We Love.” It’s five-and-a-half minutes of audiovisual perfection, and is also OVER THREE THOUSAND individual oil paintings in sequence. In an interview with BuzzFeed, artist Zachary Johnson explained how he got involved in making the video.

“The Made Shop did this really beautiful, massive hand-made mobile of lettering for The Sea The Sea’s cover art, evoking a murmuration of birds,” said Johnson. “I work as The Made Shop’s illustrator in addition to my own painting, so when The Sea The Sea contacted them to see if they knew of anyone to do an animated music video, my brother Marke recommended me.”

He also explained the process of making a five-and-a-half minute rotoscope animation. “This is a rotoscope animation, so I shot and edited a reference video to work from before I began painting each frame by hand. That first month of coming up with the concept, honing it with the band, editing the visuals to the dynamics of the song — that was the fun, creative part. And then it was just kind of time to sit down in my kitchen and paint lots of little pictures for the next seven months.”

Though it took Johnson five months longer than anticipated, The Sea The Sea’s Mira Stanley and Chuck E. Costa (pictured below performing in Duluth, MN) were pretty cool about it. “It became clear pretty early on that I had maybe bitten off a bit more than I could chew, but they really believed in the concept and were very encouraging the whole time.”

Their album, “Love We Are We Love,” was released in February of 2014.
And for anyone who’s curious, this is what eight months’ worth of hand-painted animation looks like stacked on a table. More of Johnson’s work can be seen on his website, and The Sea The Sea is currently playing shows along the East Coast. - BuzzFeed

"Heavy Rotation: 10 Songs NPR Can't Stop Playing"

Their harmonies remind me of The Milk Carton Kids and The Weepies, with feather-light production which includes the obscure glass harmonica. I love the central image of "Watertreader," as well as the song's ability to evoke the feeling of suspended animation we sometimes experience in our lives and loves. --Larry Groce, host of NPR's Mountain Stage - NPR Music

"Official TED 2015 Short Film Festival Selection"

Watching more than seventy live, perspective-changing TED Talks back to back for five days straight is nothing to scoff at. Let’s be honest: Your brain gets tired. That’s why TED’s curators program each session with short video breaks to give the mind a rest before the next set of talks. Funny, inspiring, silly, beautiful, here’s all the videos shown this year at the conference. Think of it as TED’s short film festival. -

""A magical first album debut...""

On November 9, 2013 Chuck E. Costa and Mira Stanley, two musicians based in Connecticut with a dotted line to West Virginia, who travel around and make beautiful music together, sent me a copy of their new album Love We Are We Love. This was not unsolicited. Last February I had written about seeing them as they were in the process of recording at the Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, and mentioned that I couldn't wait to hear the recording process evolution. They remembered. They sent me the album. And this is the note I sent them right back:

Dear Chuck and Mira,

What a gift for a cloudy Saturday afternoon in the valley. And as luck would have it, I'm sitting at the computer going through some of my favorite albums that I've discovered this past year and now, as if by magic, I've found the first of my favorites for 2014.

Of the 27 minutes of your music that I've listened to so far, I can only say that this is simply a beautiful set of music. I'm so pleased you thought of me to share this with, and you've put a smile on my face. While I'm sort of an anti-review type of writer, focusing more on artist profiles like I did about you guys earlier this year, a story always writes itself when I have a soundtrack like this to guide me.

Be well..and congratulations on this.


Flash forward to four months later and their publicist sends me a bio, press release, cover art and a very artistic photo collage. I read the release and say to myself "Darn..someone has already written about them here on the website." The beautifully understated quote credited to 'No Depression' that they've chosen to use as sort of the headline in the release reads: "On top of well-crafted songs, commanding stage presence and instrumental abilities, their voices in close harmony evoked for me a sound landing somewhere between Bowling Green and Bakersfield." Pure poetry. I searched the site for the author. It was me. Sigh.

I'd like to play a song for y'all that I think is one of the prettiest duets I've yet to come across.

Larry Groce, the host of NPR's Mountain Stage:

"I first met Mira Stanley — half of The Sea, The Sea and co-writer of "Watertreader" — when she was about 8. Her father, Ron Sowell, is the leader of the Mountain Stage Band, so she was often backstage. I decided to let young Mira and a friend "audition" once, and they were very serious. I told them, "Don't call us — we'll call you," but 20 years later, I did. By that time, she had a new friend in Chuck E. Costa. The two aren't well-known at present, but they're about to release their first album, produced by Todd Sickafoose (of Ani DiFranco fame). Their harmonies remind me of The Milk Carton Kids and The Weepies, with feather-light production which includes the obscure glass harmonica. I love the central image of "Watertreader," as well as the song's ability to evoke the feeling of suspended animation we sometimes experience in our lives and loves."

While it's very true that I have a warm spot in my heart for young musicians who have chosen to follow a path that many, including myself, thought was a dead end after the music business crash of the mid-2000's, that alone doesn't make me want to spend my Sunday afternoon sitting here writing about this new album. No. There's got to be more. And Chuck and Mira have a unique set of circumstances that have aligned to make me a huge fan. First, they seem to be very nice people. I like nice people. Second, they have a sound, especially on stage, that is different than anything else I've come across. It's not just that close harmony witchcraft of theirs, it's the entire package of melody, chords, the touch of the strings and the delicate layers of percussion. This album is special because in each song recorded, they've captured it. And most important, it's the way they look at each other and smile when everything comes together. Those are the moments they'll remember forever. And the moments that I want to experience when sitting in the audience.

The new album will be released on February 25th, just 387 days after I first heard, heard about and actually heard of The Sea The Sea. They'll be presenting it 'officially' to the people who can help them take the next step in their journey at this winter's Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City. I'm happy we have an organization like FAI, and glad that they have evolved into the powerhouse in acoustic and roots music that they've become. (In addition to having Graham Nash as keynote speaker this year, they've also wisely included special presentations from Tom Rush, and President-Elect-But-Stolen Al Gore who, as many of you know, invented folk music in addition to the internet.) All that aside, Mira and Chuck will be playing a whole bunch of showcases in KC. If you're there, go see them. If you're not, buy their album when it's available. Here. And support live music...they're playin' all over...go here and check it out. - No Depression

"The Sea, the Sea and Their Video That Only Took 3,454 Oil Paintings to Make"

A police van flickers in the gloom. An ambulance pulls up. And a taxi drives into the night, past billboards and bridges and fleets of its fellows, the entire metropolitan landscape rendered in blurred oils by Zachary Johnson, an artist based in Los Angeles. Johnson painted 3,454 separate works in order to fully animate the video for "Waiting", a song by the Albany folk duo The Sea, The Sea, a task he says took eight painstaking months to complete.
"The fun part was coming up with the concept and then it was just kind of slow tedium," Johnson says of the process. "Halfway through the project I was like ‘fuck me, I’m an idiot.’ But then when I finished I was like ‘Let’s do another.’"

Taking inspiration from the Richard Linklater films Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, Johnson used a technique called rotoscoping, filming footage of a nighttime cab ride in New York and then translating each frame into a painting. The "Waiting" video scrolls by at 12 frames per second, meaning that every second the viewer is seeing 12 individual paintings. Initially, Johnson had hoped to film at six frames per second, but when the video looked too choppy, he knew he needed to double his workload to get it right.

Mira Stanley and Chuck Costa, the couple behind The Sea, The Sea, have never met Johnson in person. They learned of his work from his brother Marke, who had worked on the group’s album art. "This is the first video that we’ve ever commissioned," Stanley said. "It can be a tricky thing trying to find a visual representation of a song because you’re essentially burning an image into a person’s mind for every time they hear it. We loved the way that this offered some visual space to pick your own journey in the cab ride. It really enhanced what was happening without distracting from what the song is." - Pitchfork

""If smart, intricate lyrics are your thing, check out 'Love We Are We Love...'""

If smart, intricate lyrics are your thing, check out “Love We Are We Love,” the title track and first single from The Sea The Sea’s upcoming debut Love We Are We Love. Formed by Chuck Costa and Mira Stanley in 2011, The Sea The Sea are known for their impressive harmonies, which are definitely not lacking in this tune.

The duo describe the upbeat indie-pop ballad as “a palindromic play on the adage ‘too soon old, too late smart’. A puzzle. A question and an answer. A leap into the unknown, just like love.”

Perfectly put. Love We Are We Love is set for release in late February. - American Songwriter

"The Sea The shout of joy - No Depresion"

Last night, inside a cold Dobbs Ferry church with the snow falling outside, I sat and listened to a young couple who just this week recorded their first album together. If their performance is any indication, the April release will bring a welcome relief to a cold winter. To say I was taken with Chuck E. Costa and Mira Stanley who perform as The Sea The Sea would be an understatement. On top of well-crafted songs, commanding stage presence and instrumental abilities, their voices in close harmony evoked for me a sound landing somewhere between Bowling Green and Bakersfield.

Chuck is a familiar name in folk circles with several solo albums to his credit, recipient of songwriter awards at various festivals and as a member in the band Mon Monarch. In 2011 he was named Connecticut State Troubadour. Appointed by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism based on a recommendation by a panel of music professionals, he serves as an ambassador of music and song to encourage cultural literacy and promote the State of Connecticut. In addition to his regular touring schedule, which has seen him playing festivals, coffeehouses, clubs and theaters across the Northeast and the country, he plays at various state events. Something else...he has been visiting schools to share his gift and teach children about song writing.

Mira is a singer-songwriter from Charleston, West Virginia, and is formally trained in musical theatre and dance, studying at both the Boston Conservatory and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. She is co-founder of CT Sings: Stories from the Constitution State and prior to co-facilitating workshops with Chuck, she also did theatre and playwriting workshops with children. Some of you folkies might also know Mira as the daughter of Ron Sowell, the Mountain Stage music director and guitarist heard on NPR.

Carter Smith, the producer for Common Ground Community Concerts which puts on wonderful shows throughout the Hudson Valley just north of New York, booked The Sea The Sea as the opening act for Boston-based Antje Duvekot. (You can read my profile of her if you click here.) "I've been a big fan of Chuck's for a number of years -- he's one of the best young songwriters on the scene. And since I didn't know Mira when I first heard about The Sea The Sea, I wasn't sure how I'd react to the change. There's a lot of comfort in the familiar. But hearing them sing together, in harmonies so close it's like they sing with one voice, it's clear they were destined to be together."

While I patiently wait to hear what comes out of their sessions from these past two weeks at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, it would seem a shame not to share something with y'all right now. So I've found some music and videos, and I'll also throw some links down at the bottom for you to explore. These guys seem to like the road, so catch them where and when you can. - No Depression

""Sparkling harmonies...""

An opening track should not decide exactly what you think about an album but when you hear re:Blah, you know that The Sea The Sea – featuring the duo of singer-songwriters Mira Stanley and Chuck E Costa – is promising. Throughout the 13 tracks their voices weave around each other in a sweet and powerful fashion.
Stanley's father is Mountain Stage bandleader Ron Sowell and it's clear the pair, releasing their debut album, are steeped in music. They are joined by John Inghram on bass and Bob Thompson on piano and the album is classily produced by guitarist and bass player Todd Sickafoose, who has worked with An DiFranco and Anaïs Mitchell. Highlights include If I Go (Chicago) and Ten Thousand Birds. - The Telegraph UK

"This animation of New York at night is made from 3,454 oil paintings"

Artist Zachary Johnson carefully sequenced thousands of oil paintings to create a flickering night-time journey through New York City.

The technique proves very effective in summing up late night booze-soaked taxi rides through the city limits, with bridge arches, billboards and the city's many lights dancing by.

The animation serves as the music video for The Sea The Sea's track "Waiting" and must have taken many hours to make, with 3,454 oil paintings on paper being created, each to contribute just a single frame.

Zachary moved to New York when he was eighteen "to become a failed actor", and after succeeding in this venture, "started wandering around the lonely city and drawing it". - The Independent


How Will We Know (Single) - Released June 9, 2015

Love We Are We Love (Debut Album) - Released February 25, 2014



THE SEA THE SEA is currently working on an FULL Length release in Spring 2018. Singles to be released throughout the Fall!


  • New single "Let It Be Said" to be released (Oct 6, 2017)
  • "Waiting: New York at Night in 3,454 oil paintings" (music video) featured on Buzzfeed, Pitchfork, TED 2015, Laughing Squid, Fast Company, Devour, The Awesomer
  • "Love We Are We Love" single reaches over 10 million plays on Spotify
  • "Watertreader" featured on NPR's Heavy Rotation

THE SEA THE SEA, Chuck E. Costa and Mira Stanley, are an indie folk-pop duo-band. Merging the lyrical integrity of your favorite modern day troubadours with creative, vibrant arrangements and stunning harmonies featuring what Huffington Post calls, “Two of the loveliest male-female voices you might ever hear this or any other year.” The Sea The Sea ushers in 2015 with an inspired collection of new songs, as well as some favorites from their debut release Love We Are We Love.

The album, released in February 2014, has received praise from NPR, American Songwriter, and No Depression, among others, for their honest and ethereal sound. Costa and Stanley accompany each other with electric/acoustic guitars, keyboard, and percussion, but it is their rich vocal harmonies that provide the depth to their songwriting. Two perfectly matched voices sometimes share the back-and-forth conversations of the song’s characters, other times the exchanges of one mind, weighing a decision, analyzing the moment, and trying to find answers.

They borrow their act’s name from Xenophon's Anabasis, the ancient tale of Greek soldiers returning to their coastal home after a long arduous battle inland. "The Sea! The Sea!" is a cry of joy.

Band Members