Hailing from California, Sunny State is the personification of bright, energetic and ‘sunny’ vibes. Combining elements of rock with reggae, the fivesome is making a splash on an international level. Sunny State sits down with us to chat about the coronavirus lockdown, their new single ‘Human’ and who they want to meet.
OSR: A cliche question, but can you tell us about Sunny State and how you formed?
SS: Our lead singer, Chris Reed, had a vision to form a band of solid musicians that were good people and wanted to play music with reggae vibes. Trying out different musicians, Julian Perez (lead guitarist), who Reed had met during a live video shoot year before, was the first to join the official line-up. Next, came Freddie (bassist), who Chris knew as one of the co-founders of Heart of Chaos – a San Jose art collective he’d had the honour of being a part of many of their art and music events. The three of them hit the studio and began recording what will be their debut album in July of 2019.
Julian invited his long-time friend James to join the trio on percussion for a low-key performance they had lined up. The group agreed the vibe was right. Chris met Tyler (rhythm guitar) who had helped James load in his drums that night. Soon after, Freddie invited Roman (keyboards) to join for a rehearsal. Soon, we had a day full of performances at the San Jose Fairground and we were officially a band.
OSR: Your latest single ‘Human’ was released before the coronavirus lockdowns. What can you tell us about the track?
SS: We were all set to release another song, but around March 13th all the lockdown talk began and schools began shutting down in our area. We put our single release on hold and just dealt with the issues at hand and the concerts being cancelled. Our lockdown began around March 18th and that’s when we decided we couldn’t release the song we had originally intended as it just wasn’t fitting for the times we were in, but we knew we needed to release something for our fans. ‘Human’ was an unlikely candidate as a song to make it on the record in the first place because it was merely written as a journal entry and was recorded by accident. The rawness of the track and the lyrics made it an obvious choice for the times we are all in.
The song is about self-doubt and exploration. It’s about being honest with one’s self and what is important. With everyone across the world locked in their homes, we agreed that we were all going through enormous amounts of self-reflection. Some days better than others, but we’re all just imperfectly human.
OSR: What was the recording process like?
SS: Julian and Chris were scheduled to be in the studio that day working on tightening up a couple of tracks we had previously recorded. By a mere coincidence, the engineer wasn’t able to boot up our session. We had him load up another recording software and decided to grab Chris’s ukulele Lele and get to work. Chris was feeling very “human” that day, so that song seemed to make the most sense to tackle.
OSR: Speaking about the Covid-19 pandemic, how do you think this lockdown is affecting musicians?
SS: There are the obvious effects: cancelled concerts leading to a serious loss of income. We’re all forced to stream live concerts to stay connected to our fans and keep us going. Playing to a screen is very different than playing to a live audience where you can feel, feed and vibe off their energy. It is a strange thing playing for a screen day in and day out, but a positive thing comes from it, it forces musicians to look inward and play from a place they began. Just them and their instrument, no one else. For me, it’s just like inviting everyone in for a small look at where I like to play music most – my garden in the sun.
OSR: Do you believe the pandemic will change the face of independent music?
SS: From what the professionals are saying we won’t be able to have concerts for at least a year; that will certainly change things. It means we will be in this state in the music industry for a while.
OSR: How are you coping with the lockdown on a professional and personal level?
SS: Some days are easier than others. I’m trying to embrace all the time I get to spend with my two daughters Indigo and Violet. They will never be this small again. My wife and I are reminding each other of this every day.
We spend a lot of time in our backyard working on the garden as the girls play. I love watching their relationship blossom as they become closer each day. Naturally, that also means tons of fights, tantrums, whining and crying, but that’s all part of the process.
Us being in the sunshine together helps us all stay sane. For me, some quiet time with the dirt under my nails planting veggies from seed gives me some very positive things to focus on. I have also been practising during Indi’s naps and that is very therapeutic.
Professionally, I have set up my studio gear and found the most efficient ways for me to stream concerts. As a band, we have been working on “live” videos so we can still jam together and release content for the world.
OSR: What do you hope people will take from the single?
SS: It’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s ok to be flawed. It’s ok to be human. No one is perfect and nor should they be. Love yourself and focus on the good stuff in life, not the small stuff.
OSR: What, do you think, is the best way to discover new music?
SS: Asking my friends what they’re listening to or even sharing playlists.
OSR: If you could meet one person (not necessarily a musician), who would it be and why?
SS: Just one? There are so many. I’d like to just sit and jam with Manu Chao. No talking necessary, just an honest conversation through music.
OSR: Do you have any message for our readers?
SS: Keep it sunny!