Despite only releasing their first EP last year, The London-based Suns have grown into a rather productive band. From collaborations with Crystal Fighters and Mount Kimbie to an original soundtrack with Scott Walker, the band is a force to be reckoned with. We were able to sit down with Andy McDonnell who makes up one half of the electronic duo. He offered FDRMX some choice words about music as well as hinting what the future holds for Suns:
FDRMX: You and your bandmate Michael Tyrrell met at a party. At what point in that conversation did you realize “I have to make music with this guy”
Andy McDonnell: Very soon on, actually. I realized we had very similar interests despite coming from different worlds of music. Just one week after that party we were in the studio together, so it was quite instant. It was very much unlike any musical connection I had had. A very weird feeling, but good. Very good.
FDRMX: Was that Conversation in London?
AM: Yes it was, in East London. Which Brooklyn reminds me of with the lack of high rise and more of an artsy feel to it. I believe we started that conversation so late that the sun started to come up over the East part of the city. Our studio is near there now.
FDRMX: Are you more familiar with East London side than the urban buildings?
AM: I guess so. London, like NYC, is a city of many villages and you often end up to visiting all of them. But I do feel more at home in the east. Michael is originally from the west side and when I first came I lived in the South, so we’re familiar with all sides.
FDRMX: You recently released a short snippet of music called “Strings of Spring“ via Facebook. What prompted that release?
AM: That was just a taster! I got bored one day and thought it would be cool to put it out there. It’s more of a teaser for what’s happening later this year. Strings of Spring will be a part of a bigger thing at the end of Summer, but that’s a secret. We’re about to shoot a video for our main single “We Were Kings”. The plan is to release it on August 4th. We’re really proud of it. It’s just our single with no remixes and it will be followed by a single launch/show in september.
FDRMX: Is there a typical time of day to write music?
AM: I’ve been a prouder for many of years (artists like Crystal Fighters and Scott Walker) so I’ve seen many different methods. Creatively, I find that I need to get in early even when I’m working on my own because I know the creative process takes time. If I get in the morning it may not hit until the afternoon, though sometimes I’ll wake up at a ridiculous time of night with an idea and immediately cycle down to the studio. I wont leave until its done. You can’t be beholden to wait for the light bulb to go off. You need to set up the game to allow for it to happen.
FDRMX: “Plight of the Hunter” is an incredible video. Did you have a lot of input in its creation?
AM: Yeah! We like to have a hand in everything. So we kind of came up with the concept with our friend and Director Marnie Hollande and and producer Chantelle Lue. We then picked the dancers. They auditioned at our studio so in that way we were there from the ground up. During the filming we were the runners. I made lunch for everyone. We wanted to be there because a lot of people put in a lot of effort for a very low budget. We got it done in just two days. Near the end of one day we saw a storm come in sideways and it got very hectic. We wrapped up the dancer in cloth and jackets and right when the director said shoot we sent him out and immediately wrapped him back up when it was done!
FDRMX: I Can’t believe you filmed it in just two days. It’s your most iconic video.
AM: Very much so. We didn’t plan on the video but the palate it used was something we wanted to be our tone. The soft tones are both dark and light so that it doesn’t have to be too much to one side.
FDRMX: The Suns Logo is very cool. Who designed it?
AM: Russell Palmer, a friend of ours who I was actually just talking about some artwork for an upcoming single! He was the one who came up with the interchangeable letters. We loved that you could put that on anything and still have the same tone conveyed throughout. The logo works with fan images or artwork.
FDRMX: What’s it like having a foot in England and one in NYC?
AM: Helpful. I also lived in Texas for a while too. I go to Austin every year for SXSW. I love New York though I’d say musically we’re still a European sounding band. The American pop has definitely influenced how we write but not how we sound. I would love to be out here. This city is more compact than London so it fuels a different kind of creativity. We definitely want to come out and play.
FDRMX: What was it like to work with animator Stuart Sinclair for Bells. Did you have the same level of input as you did for Plight of the Hunter?
AM: Not so much. We didn’t plan on doing a video for Bells though I really wanted one for it, but Sinclair suggested we work on something together. He’s brilliant and wanted to branch out. We sent him a few track and he picked Bells. The one thing I suggested was having a linear story even if it’s very subtle, hence the ending where they head off towards the sun. Other than that, it was all Sinclair.
FDRMX: Have you done any club performances recently?
AM: Not so much. We’ve been kind of writing and playing more than that. We’re trying to choose our shows very carefully. We have that one show London this September which will be for a single launch. We just want to make it very special. We want each and every show that we do to be special rather than 500 shows that mean nothing.
FDRMX: What’s been the biggest career highlight for Suns?
AM: The responses from the videos and the tracks. Bells was picked as a Vimeo Staff Pick so that was really cool. To see that so many people are getting into our work is great as well. Also our first London Concert was awesome because we officially realized this is what we want to do.
FDRMX: What is the best piece of musical advice you have ever received?
AM: Follow your nose. Nowadays you can learn too much (especially if you work in production). When it comes to your creation you should do your thing and don’t limit it. Don’t let your influences dictate what you’re going to create. Use them as a vehicle for where you want to take yourself.
Best of luck to Suns with their future endeavors, and a big thank you to Andy for some terrific answers. Keep up with Suns on their Facebook and Soundcloud. You can be sure that the Music Exchange will be on the lookout for their August 4th Single!