We recently introduced you to up-and-coming (and really promising) London-based duo SUNS with the premiere of "The Void," a track off of their We Were Kings EP. We always want to get to know artists responsible for such good tunes better, so here's an exclusive interview with Andy McDonnell and Michael Tyrrell.
PopWrapped: Hey guys, it’s nice to be doing this with you! So, to kick things off, would you like to shortly introduce yourselves to the world?
SUNS: Thank you for having us! We are SUNS; a duo from London comprised of Michael Tyrell and Andy McDonnell. We’ve been working together for the past 2 and half years.
PW: What were you two up to before forming SUNS, and how did that come along?
Michael: I have fronted a couple of bands before SUNS. I was actually introduced to Andy by the bass player in my last band. We clicked instantly and once we started writing together, it became very clear where my heart belonged, so that was that.
Andy: We were both in various bands and making music. I was working as a producer and a session musician.
PW: How did you decide to name your team-up SUNS? Is there a meaning behind the name?
A: We had a few names on the table but, personally, I liked the image that the name SUNS created when I thought about it. I imagined two suns orbiting each other. Balanced.
M: Coupled with an interest in imagery of pagan sun worship and a propensity to dance into the small hours (a very modern form of sun worship), all roads led to SUNS.
PW: The sound of your brand-new EP We Were Kings feels different from the one of your debut, WeAreSuns. Tell us a bit about your sonic evolution.
M: The WeAreSuns EP was a collection of material we’d written when we first met. Our sound has definitely developed since. It would be weird if it hadn’t. But I think we’ve stayed true to the elements that have always inspired us.
A: It’s funny, as I hadn’t really thought about it until you mentioned it. I think that it may be part of our process; that we mainly concern ourselves with what we’re working on and not what we did before. I think we have certainly evolved, both as songwriters and as producers. I’m not sure if we had a complete idea of what we wanted to sound like when we put out the first EP. It was a collection of tracks we really liked, but there wasn’t a lot to tie them together, but with this new EP I think the link is musically clear. We’ve also become a lot more ruthless with our songs…
PW: If your music was to be placed under one specific genre and you could create your own, what would you call it?
M: We’ve had a lot of chimera genres affixed to us. Synth-Pop, Dream-Pop, Dark-Pop, Alt-Pop… I’m pretty comfortable inhabiting all of the above, as the common thread is something close to our hearts - Pop. But if I had to coin it, I’d say ‘Prism-Pop,' in light of the spectrum of influences that come together to make our sound.
PW: In what other ways would you like to further experiment with your sound in the future?
M: We’ve recently been talking about collaborations. I’d love to see someone else interpret our sound, so we’re going to look through that door pretty soon.
A: Yeah, I think bringing some more musicians to the recording process would be a good experiment. Whether it would be a singing collaborator or a musician playing on one of our tracks, I think having someone else’s approach and way of playing can only add to what we do.
PW: Which track on the record is each one of you emotionally connected to the most?
A: “The Void” – I like the intimacy that you feel at the beginning of this contrasted with the big pop chorus. This track almost didn’t make it so many times and went through many different guises. It’s a bit of a survivor for me and has a few quirks, which I like as a result of that process.
M: Honestly, I connect with them all emotionally. They all recount very personal things. Some I would be reluctant to say out loud. But, here they are. Right now I’m particularly uncomfortable with “The Void” existing in the real world. It’s an open letter to my father and I haven’t really thought about what happens next.
PW: I suppose you have a full-length studio album on the way. Is that the case? If so, how is it coming along?
A: We’re writing the album at the moment. We have enough songs, but want to look through the door a bit longer to see what else we can come up with. There may be another single or two before we put out an album. I think when you’re mainly releasing stuff online, it’s fun to just keep putting tracks out and an album can come later. Also, there are a lot more visual things we want to create before making an album.
PW: Between experimenting in the studio and performing live, which one do you enjoy the most and why?
M: Nothing gives me more pleasure than performing live. You hear lots of people say that you lose yourself on stage. For me that’s kind of true, but paradoxically, I never feel more complete and there isn’t a place I feel more at home. I love writing in those moments of artistry, but it can’t compare to performing.
A: I think it’s live now. I say ‘now’ as I’ve always loved the studio, but I think once you have a collection of songs that you’re happy with, it’s a lot of fun playing them out and seeing what people’s reactions are. I think some times people get a much more raw version of us live, which I think we’re both into, and it’s fun to make the live show different to the records.
PW: After dropping We Are Kings, what’s next in terms of promotion? A music video, any performances scheduled?
A: As we remixed and kind of re-wrote the title track from the EP from an earlier release, we have also re-cut the video. That should be popping up very soon…
M: …As well as shows, music videos, more music. There’s a lot more to come.
PW: You’re releasing the EP under your very own label, Taiyō Records. How did it come to that?
M: When we first started releasing material, we just didn’t find a label that felt like home. So we created our own, and it allowed us to put our music out there without the influence or pressure that come with a label. It really helped us define our sound.
A: We would definitely like the next thing we do to be with a label ideally, but as we were nearing the end of work on this EP, we found that we didn’t have much time to speak to labels and also fit into every schedule this side of new year.
PW: Some believe that being signed by one of the market’s leading gives artists more hype and promotion, while others support that it takes away from their creative control over music. What’s your opinion on the subject?
M: I don’t really go in for anti-industry snobbery. It’s a difficult business to crack. You just have to take the opportunities that make sense to who you want to be as an artist.
A: I think it’s something we would like to do. Even though things are a bit tighter in terms of spending money, I think there are quite a lot of different deals and labels out there... It kind of has to work for both parties. I think it’s got a lot to do with where you are creatively and who you end up working with. I think you also really need to know what you’re looking for and be willing to walk away. I’ve seen some friends have greatest time with labels and I’ve seen some banging their heads against the wall.
PW: From producers and songwriters, to fresh musicians or established artists, can each of you pick his #1 dream collaboration?
A: So, so many, but I would say Depeche Mode.
M. I’d love to work with Sohn. Or Frank Ocean could be really cool. SBTRKT? Arggggh. It’s tricky to pick one.
PW: Is there a song on the radio/charts right now that you wish you had recorded?
M: Two songs I couldn’t get out of my head when I first heard them are "How Deep is Your Love" (Calvin Harris) and "Where Are You Now" (Justin Bieber). "Lean On" with MØ is cool too. I wish I’d written "White Light" by Shura, though.
A: Even though it’s a pretty different sound to ours, I would say the Tame Impala record is pretty perfect.
PW: And before we call for an end, would you like to leave us with a few words for the people that support you?
M: Thank you for your support! We’ve got loads more to share with you and a lot of love to give, so spread the word.
A: stay close. <3
For more from SUNS, check out their SoundCloud.