Baroque, classical and renaissance music is not something you would generally think can be mixed with pop and rock. Well, this is exactly what The Sundots are doing as they bring their classical background to a unique brand of anthemic hooks, choral ballads and rocking harmonies. Constantine Novotny, Efthimi Matsamakis and Daniel Seiderman draw on wide-ranging musical influences and intertwine them with a unique blend of sound to form a musical experience that won’t forget. This is clear on their album Flowers In Mythology: Polemonium which is a kaleidoscope of tones, styles and genres. We had the chance to chat with primary songwriter Constantine Novotny about the album, blending styles, creative processes, challenges and much more!
OSR: How did the band first get together?
Novotny: I have known both Efthimi Matsamakis and Daniel Seiderman since childhood! Efthimi and I were both involved in the Greek culture of the Detroit area since we were very small, and Daniel and I met in elementary school when he was the “new kid” in 4th grade. Efthimi and Daniel became friends when they were both attending Michigan State University having played in their band Chief Larson and the Fire Puppets. When they graduated and the members scattered around, we formed The Sundots.
OSR: You have recently released your second LP Flowers in Mythology: Polemonium, does it have a backstory or theme?
Novotny: All three of us have a love of ancient history and cultures, and I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of floral or fruity references in the collection of songs. It felt appropriate to identify the songs with flowers, many of which have Greek names tied to a mythical backstory. We also appreciate that flowers can all look completely different while still looking, well, like a flower. The songs on this album showcase a variety of styles and moods, yet still sound like the same group.
OSR: The LP is considered the first half of a double album. Can you tell us more about this?
Novotny: This double album is a collection of songs that have been cultivated from 2018 to 2020! The original plan was to have a longer than usual album with several B-sides to go with singles, but it became too difficult to downgrade certain songs as B-sides. The result was to create two equal halves which will be released separately. Recording and mixing each half one at a time allowed us to get new material out there sooner, as opposed to waiting extra long to put out a single huge release.
OSR: Your music is full of both grace and a quirky edge, is this something that you actively try to achieve or has it built organically?
Novotny: The quirk comes naturally! But I do make serious decisions as to how I use the quirk or what type of unusual lyrical or musical effects would be appropriate for the subject or mood of an individual song. I can easily ruin something with potential by being too weird, so I use a lot of brain energy trying to reign it into something palatable.
OSR: What is your creative process for creating the LP? Did you start with the concept or a single track that you work around?
Novotny: Most songs were written individually, at a time and place of their own choosing, and placed under the vague umbrella of “second LP”. Then when it came time to plan the album and construct a tracklist we noticed there were holes that needed to be filled and so a couple more songs were written to make an album that felt balanced and complete! One of the more recent songs was written after the album had a title and it was very fun trying to figure out how it would fit in with the theme.
OSR: What do you feel is the biggest influence on your sound?
Novotny: We really look up to musicians like The Beatles and Regina Spektor. The Beatles gave the world a catalogue of songs that demonstrate an enormous range of the sonic and emotional spectrum. Regina Spektor used her classical piano training and unique outlook on poetry to create a beautiful songwriting style. Both The Beatles and Regina built their senses of humour into their amazing songs, and that is also something that I really admire about them.
OSR: As this is your second album, how do you feel it compares to the last
Novotny: We feel this album is a natural step forward! In a way, it kind of feels like we’re solidifying and settling into our own personal style. Hopefully, there’s a sense of growth musically and lyrically, and we’ve experimented with some larger textures as well!
OSR: You have played in venues all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, but what was the best gig you have performed?
Novotny: So far our favourite gig has been at The Cutting Room. It was the album release show for this record and it was really a blast for us. It was a huge honour to play for that crowd. They were wonderful and fun and made us feel at home. It’s a really beautiful venue. Plus, they have a baby grand piano which is an amazing luxury for me! Legend has it Lady Gaga performed on it just before she was signed.
OSR: What was the biggest challenge you faced when creating the album?
Novotny: We did the entire thing ourselves. Aside from several piano tracks recorded at our friend Matt Wood’s apartment, we took care of all aspects of the engineering, editing, and mixing process. The first album’s piano and vocals were at least recorded at a studio, but due to the pandemic, this one was done almost exclusively in our apartment. So, we were constantly working around our schedules and desires to not think about the enormous project that we were undertaking. But we kept moving forward and pulled it together!
OSR: Other than the second album in the double release, what else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?
Novotny: We will be playing more shows in the New York area and, hopefully, outside of New York! We will start booking shows elsewhere on the east coast soon, and probably play in LA and back home in the Detroit area as well! Also, once the double album is finished, it gives me the peace of mind to begin writing the next batch of music, which is my favourite part of the process.