Miles Cooper Seaton, co-founder of the experimental rock group Akron/Family, has died at the age of 41. The news was confirmed by Dead Oceans Records, which released Akron/Family’s final albums. No cause of death has been announced.
“Akron/Family are the type of band that underscore the whole reason Dead Oceans exists,” label co-founder Phil Waldorf wrote. “Miles was one of a kind person, in a one of a kind band. It’s a rush of emotions.” He added, “I feel lucky that I knew Miles, and sad that I have to say goodbye.”
Seaton grew up in California and Seattle before crossing the country to Brooklyn in the early 2000s. He became roommates with Seth Olinsky, Ryan Vanderhoof, and Dana Janssen, and together the four musicians founded Akron/Family. Everyone in the group was proficient in multiple instruments, and they used layered soundscapes that pushed against the boundaries of popular music with folksy charm, psychedelic curiosity, and swelling choral arrangements.
In 2004, Akron/Family caught the ear of Swans’ Michael Gira, who hired the group as the backing band for his side project Angels of Light and signed them to his label Young God Records. In 2005, Angels of Light and Akron/Family collaborated on a split album together, and A/F put out their self-titled debut. Seaton and his bandmates went on to release several more records, including 2006’s Warrior, 2007’s Love Is Simple, 2009’s Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free, 2011’s S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT and <bmbz>, and 2013’s Sub Verses.
In 2013 Seaton parted ways with Akron/Family and launched a solo career that spanned 2013’s Notes From the Interior, 2015’s Functional Musics Vols. 1 and 2. His final album, Phases in Exile, came out in 2017.
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver was among the many who paid tribute. “I cannot believe Miles Seaton is gone,” he wrote. “He is an integral part of so many musical histories. I am in shock and grieving for those who knew and loved him the most. Hearts out to all of you. His music will live on forever.”
Akron/Family are the type of band that underscore the whole reason Dead Oceans exists. I feel lucky that I knew Miles, and sad that I have to say goodbye. We hope you’ll share some memories. There are too many for me to count right now. – Phil Waldorf (co-founder, Dead Oceans)
— Dead Oceans (@DeadOceans) February 19, 2021
I cannot believe Miles Seaton is gone. He is an integral part of so many musical histories. I am in shock and grieving for those who knew and loved him the most. Hearts out to all of you. His music will live on forever.
— blobtower (@blobtower) February 19, 2021