Six Questions With Sun KinSix Questions With Sun Kin

Welcome to “Six Questions With…,” a series of interviews with emerging artists, musicians, and bands focusing on the music scene and how they live within it. It started as a quick, fun project, but has quickly gained serious interest, so we’re making this a permanent feature on the site. Over time, the questions may change, but the sentiment will stay intact. This is a way for independent artists to be discovered by new fans on a global scale.

Within in each post, you will find all of their social media links, and also either a link to their music, or the ability to stream at least one of their tracks or videos, depending on the availability.

We hope you enjoy this series, and if you know anyone that might be interested in being part of it, please have them reach out to us for more information.

Next in the hot seat is Oakland-based indie alt-pop-rock band Sun Kin. We’ve not covered Sun Kin in the past, so we are new to their music! If you’re not familiar with Sun Kin, sit back and enjoy! This is what is great about this series – the discovery of new music.

For those who may not be familiar, please tell us about your music: the type of music you play, where you are from, and how you got started?

Sun Kin’s music has evolved over the 6 years or so that it’s been a project of mine. It began in Berkeley, California as a recording project with my friend Patrick. We would rehearse for 10 hours a day, alternating between doing pitch-perfect Beatles and Elliott Smith covers and recording our own material. My personal beginnings in songwriting were in New York City, where I went to high school, and I think NYC’s no-nonsense attitude is always going to be reflected in my songwriting, which is hook-based, texturally exciting, and leaves no room for semiotic or clichéd bullshit.

As an artist, how do you define success?

I define success as someone messaging me and telling me about how hard of a time they were having before they heard my song–or just that it let them cry without shame. I also define it monetarily, because not being paid as a musician is a betrayal of the music community, and playing “for exposure” is a crime. If someone’s singing along at a show, and feeling like they’re transcending their problems and/or gaining a larger understanding because of my music, it’s been a successful day.

What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?

My greatest struggle is reaching the right types of people–today’s click-based internet economy is far-flung from the halcyon days of blog attention in the early to late ’00s, and social media algorithms make it hard to communicate even with your own fans. Neoliberal politics also make it so that bookers and promoters must “prove their value” AKA make sure that anyone they put on stage will be able to justify skyrocketing rents in every major metropolitan city in the world, and this is a struggle that I share with anyone trying to start a band in 2017.

If you could only play ONE of your songs for the rest of your career, which one would it be? 

I think my new song “Under Standing Waves” is the closest I’ve gotten to making something that embodies my principles of vulnerability and emotional honesty while still carrying a sense of fun and a hint of sex within the stylish synths and danceable rhythms. Hearing a lyric about wanting to FaceTime with your isolated family while feeling the intangible euphoria of a deep groove is a juxtaposition that only pop music can imbue, especially brave, independent pop music that has a perspective.

Who do you consider your greatest influences?

Like my tastes, my influences have changed over the years. I’ve had many, many phases, but I would say that the artists that have stuck around are in the realms of baroque-influenced pop (Donovan, The Beach Boys), shoegaze (My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, New Order), contemporary hip-hop (Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt), and any contemporary music that defies genre (Hundred Waters, Noname, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Neon Indian, etc.)

Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?

Outside of making music, I like to read contemporary lit, watch a LOT of Adventure Time, banter at parties, and…well I’m not sure who I’m kidding here. I basically just hole up after work and write or listen to music for as much of the day as possible… the world’s going to hell in a handbasket and I’d like to get as much work done as possible before that happens.

Amen, brother.

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Kelly Murphy
Owner, writer, and editor of Indie Minded; Social Media Marketing & Relationship Consulting via Indie Minded Media; Be sure to give me a follow on Twitter @IndieMurphy or @IndieMindedMedia