Music Video Premiere: “Lonesome” by Dadadoh [premiere + interview]

We’re super stoked to be the first to share this sweet new music video from local hip hop legend Dadadoh. We even got a chance to chat with the man behind the music (and music video) about all the shizz coming from his camp this year.

But, first, we want to give you inside eye on the music video for “Lonesome”. The track itself feels more atmospheric than your usual hip hop jam and that’s part of the reason we dig it. “Lonesome” is where Dadadoh gets into one of his more meditative moods and that musing quality echoes the emotional implications of the track’s title.

Check out the music video and the continue on below to read our Q&A with Dadadoh about the making of “Lonesome”, the fact behind the fiction, and what’s next for PHX’s favorite musical hustler. Oh, btw, make sure you have Radicalhere – the album from whence this track came – in your own personal collection (available ).

YabYum: So, first of all, I’d like to know more about the making of the video. Who directed it? And did you have additional help from any key players to bring the new video to life?

The ideas behind my videos are so specific that I really couldn’t imagine anyone else directing them other than myself. My ideas are never set in stone. They’re really just rough blueprints of what-ifs that I’m always expecting to evolve into something else later down the line.

I’m over performance shots in hip hop videos. I mean how many ways can you shoot a video looking into a camera and mouthing the lyrics. The concept has been beat to death in my opinion so when it came to making my next video I wanted something that was more of a film than a commercial for my song.

Andy Warpigs had just released his video for “Everybody Likes You Now” and I loved the feel of that video. I found out it was shot by this really cool cat named Indy Prince. I reached out to them and tried to explain this crazy idea I had and, fortunately, for me they were totally down to help me make it happen.

It looks like the new music video might be continuing the tale that we first got a glimpse of in your last music video. So, I have to ask, is this narrative entirely fictional?

This video is definitely another chapter in the same universe as my last video. Hip Hop has so many unspoken rules and I’ve always felt that those limitations have hindered the art form at times. I try to play with those sensitive areas in my visuals. I can’t really confirm at this time what’s real and what isn’t but I can assure you that the truth will come out in the end of the narrative.

The single featured in this video came from your last album, Radical. Where did you record the songs for that collection?

I’ve been producing music for myself and other TVLiFE Entertainment artists at my home studio that I’ve coined “Jamarvin’s Room” in Tempe, AZ since 2012. The entire thing took thirteen months before it got wrapped in cellophane and I finally had the release party on my birthday last year.

You perform as Dadadoh but you’re also involved in other musical projects. Mind enlightening all who might not have the full Dadadoh-music-hustle picture just what you’re up to these days?

I wrote and recorded a song for the evangelistic rap group 20 Ft. Neon Jesus awhile back that should be on their next album. I just shot a concert film for Red Tank! that I’m really excited for the people to see. We’re in pre-production on the next two MC/DC projects. I engineered and played percussion on Andy Warpigs next two albums. I’m working on an EP with Indy Prince (who you can hear wailing like an old black lady on Andy’s “Dog Ate My Dope” single).

Ricky Smash and I just spent two months recording and releasing a new project called They Don’t Think It Be Like It Is But It Do by our band Exxxtra Crispy that I’m really excited about. I also DJ for this super cool femcee called Bert who’s ill! I put on a women’s event four times a year called Women Only that gives new female artists a platform to perform and connect. I started a podcast called “Before The Show” that is currently recording its third season and that will be released soon.

What’s next on your itinerary? You’ve already been in a feature film, directed your own music video, and put out some killer music. I want to know what else Dadadoh has on his bucket list?

I’ve been working on my stand up movie for awhile now and I think it’ll be done by the end of the year. I’m also working on booking a summer tour for 2018 where I want to get overseas and I plan to release my next album right before that tour.

I’m playing with the idea of re-recording some songs I’ve already released as a full band where I play all the instruments as well.

I’m mixing a cover I recorded that I’ll send to the When In AZ Vol. 2 compilation when it’s done.

We start production on the next Exxxtra Crispy album next week and I’m hyped on where we’re going to take that sound next.

I’m looking for more radio, television and movie placements in my future too. Hell, if I haven’t done it and it seems borderline impossible, then consider me all in.

 

5 Stellar Indie Singles

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

The Fuzzy Crystals

“The King is Dead”

Are you ready for the transcendental expierence that is The Fuzzy Crystals? These spaced-out pysch rockers from California (where else?) create a dynamic sound that will have you wandering through the acidic flower fields of our hippie parents’ memory mindspace with their new single, “The King is Dead”. If you feel like you might have missed out on Woodstock, I suggest delving into The Fuzzy Crystals right away.

Swellshark

“Numb + Insensible”

How should we describe the music of the musical duo known as Swellshark? Sweet and somber? Lonely but playful? Sad and happy? It seems like all the words apply when listening to “Numb + Insensible”. Shélan O’Keefe and Henry Kellam (aka Swellshark) fuse together a buoyant indie folk sound with pensive lyrics that seek to root out all those insecurities you sought to subjugate. The pair are heading out on tour this coming June so check with Swellshark to see if they have a stop in your neck of the woods. For us in Phoenix that means The Trunk Space on June 3rd so mark your calendar!

Joy Downer

“Stranger Places”

The husband and wife team behind Joy Downer [Jeffrey Downer and Joy Bishop] are originally from San Diego but they recently made the jump to Hollywood. “Stranger Places” takes that casual Pacific air and adds some L.A. production for a super fun summer single. This track comes to us from the duo’s EP, Radio Dreamer, which was recorded and produced by Rob Kolar at his Echo Park studio. Check out the single from Joy Downer below &/or head here for the complete Radio Dreamer EP.

Loyal Wife

“We Notice Homes When They Break”

There’s something nostalgic about that early indie sound “popularized” in the 90s by alt-rock bands that had too much buoyancy in their sound for grunge. It definitely feels like Loyal Wife has continued the tradition on their new single, “We Notice Homes When They Break”. Loyal Wife has that bright bummer rock thing down and I’m totally digging it. Check out the single, available through Sunset Alliance Records, below…

Shadowgraphs

“Eastern Holiday”

This psych-rock act from North Carolina is passing through Phoenix in June and all you locals are not going to want to miss out on the vintage sound of Shadowgraphs. “Eastern Holiday” starts off with a bit of Western amble before giving way to a mellow and nostalgic rocknroll that is quite enchanting. Give “Eastern Holiday” a spin below and then be sure to check in with the Shadowgraphs’ complete tour schedule (through Facebook).*

*This sentence was modified from its originally published content because some writer got a show date wrong. The jury is out on whether to blame the band or the staffer. Trial to begin at noon.**

**That was a joke. There’s no “trial” other than trial by combat and that always starts promptly as dusk.

7 Rad Music Videos: The Folk & Alt-Country Edition

Tall Tall Trees
“SeagullxEagle”

KaiL Baxley
“Killin’ Floor”

Slings & Arrows
“That Was Me Then”

Joe Marson
“Gotta Be Good”

Tally Spear
“Wrong  Side of the Road”

Mason
“Rockstar Paperboy”

Alice Wallace
“I Just Don’t Care Anymore”

5 Hawt HipHop Singles

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

2Reps

“Been Wild”

There’s a fun summertime feel on “Been Wild” that’s perfect for the over-25-crowd (uh, maybe over 30). You know, those of us who might have had our wild days but now we maybe just want to kickback and use all those bills we save on booze for tropical vacations. Of course, 2Reps throw enough bounce into “Been Wild” to keep the kids interested even if they haven’t crossed that “Still Wild” threshold quite yet.

Susspect

“Jelly”

At nineteen, Susspect might be a little green but you won’t be able to glean that from his new single, “Jelly”. This kid sounds pro. I mean, he’s got some serious lyrical prowess and a slick delivery. That’s a winning combo. But, right now, Susspect is doing the collegiate thing by day at Emerson so don’t start pressuring him to spit out singles faster than his schedule will permit. #StayInSchool

J. Reid Prime

“All Mine”

This slouchy single from J. Reid Prime brings a little chill to these increasingly hot days. “All Mine”, produced by Gage Green, features Sonny from Mars on the vocals. This is the first single Prime has released in a year so fans will be stoked to learn that this track is just a prelude to the artist’s forthcoming album, Braille Teeth. Roll around your city with J. Reid Prime and his single, “All Mine”.

Bad Poetry Club

“Victory Lap”

Bad Poetry Club throws out some mad energy into the mix of their new single, “Victory Lap”. BPC lays out fresh instrumentals on this single to support the wisely sparse lyrics. After all, with a beat like that, who wants to get too wordy. This is nu jazz, not your normal HipHop hit. Give “Victory Lap” by Bad Poetry Club a spin below…

Jaac

“Minutes”

Jaac recorded this track last year at the tender age of seventeen. On “Minutes”, Jaac proves you don’t always need to throw a lot down on the beat if you have the lyrical strength to carry your audience. Jaac does and you can hear that stripped-down style on “Minutes”. Let’s hope Jaac has more singles in the works this year.

Music Video Premiere: Foresteater Release Critical Cultural Commentary in “Very Friendly People”

Foresteater dropped their stellar debut EP, Nightlife of the Exploding Heads, last year, but they have this brand-new music video to provide us with the perfect excuse to revisit some of the gems from that release.

“Very Friendly People” sets a stellar soundtrack for a contemporary tale of tragedy that unfolds in the music video created by Foresteater frontman Mikey Pro and Coach Taylor of Camelback Media.

I had a chance to chat with Mikey about the making of the video, the album, and the impending Mescal Porch Collective tour that Foresteater will be taking part in. But, first, check out “Very Friendly People” below…

YabYum: I see that this video was made by “Coach Taylor and Mikey Pro”… So, first of all, who is Coach Taylor and how did you two come to work together on this new music video?

Mikey Pro: Coach Taylor is firstly one of my oldest friends. We grew up together as next door neighbors so we’ve known each other since we were 8 or younger. Present day, he just started a media company called Camelback Media and I believe this is his first music video.

It’s also Foresteater’s first video so it’s really fitting as far as having the freedom to do or try anything we want without any rules like “this is the way we do things when we make music videos” or something. It was really just two long-term friends being creative together without any rules. I ended up being in charge of the content/story while he was in charge of making sure everything looked good and, of course, the editing. It was really nice to work with someone I’m so comfortable with.

Please tell me a little bit about this single. This was from Foresteater’s debut album, Nightlife of the Exploding Heads, correct? When did that album come out? And where did you record it?

Yeah. This is the first Foresteater single off of the debut EP. The album came out last year and I recorded it with Bob Hoag at Flying Blanket Studios. I knew I wanted to give it the video treatment for a bit and finally felt comfortable enough to do it once Taylor and I started talking about it.

It feels like the video is commenting on selfie culture or maybe scene culture in general. As one of the music video creators, maybe you could tell us a little about the underlying concept for “Very Friendly People”?

The video is a satirical dramatization of people being way too concerned about moving up in a social scene. Also, it shows how judgmental, fake, and ruthless the culture of a social scene can be. We wanted to show that the more the story’s protagonist, Patty, changed herself to fit in, the more the scene accepted her.

I also wanted it to be creepy so there is a sort of supernatural-psychological-thriller element to it where I represent the “nightlife” in phantom form and slowly get closer and closer to Patty until she is completely consumed. The scenes outside the bar with Grey “the doorman”, Lindsey “the selfie queen”, and Zak “the dealer” represent social tests and when Patty finally passes them she is celebrated by everyone who had ignored her before only for it to be revealed that the band and I have been working together the entire time to transform her.

At the end, my “we’re all mad here” smile and Patty collapsing to the flat-line sounding guitar feedback represent that the person she was is truly gone.

So, the album is out, the music video is out, what is next for Foresteater?

We are taking our music on the road for a West Coast Tour thanks to Mescal Porch Collective. Our tour kickoff is Friday June 9th at Last Exit Live with The Sink or Swim, Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold, The Lonesome Wilderness and some very special guests.

~

 

7 Stellar Songwriters You Need to Know

songwritersThe SunPunchers

“Screwtop Head”

The SunPunchers released two singles in prelude to their new EP which comes out THIS WEEKEND. These songs have a sticky summer warmth, like laying on a screened-in porch on a day buzzing with mosquitoes. There is an aesthetic here of sun tea and swimming holes brought to life through stunning, and stunningly demure, musicianship. The release show goes down at The Newton on May 20. Once you hear “Screwtop Head” from The SunPunchers, I can’t imagine that there’s anywhere else you’ll want to be this coming Sunday. More info on that event can be found here.

Violetta Zironi

“Half Moon Lane”

Wait until you hear the ethereal voice of 21-year-old Italian singer/songwriter Violetta Zironi. It’s not just her voice that enchants listeners of “Half Moon Lane” but the charming narrative of her songwriting style.  The single has a stripped-down sound reminiscent of those swan-throated folk musicians of the 1970s like Vashti Bunyan. Just part my hair down the middle and wrap me in an afghan and I could listen to “Half Moon Lane” from Violetta Zironi all afternoon. I certainly hope to hear more from this artist soon.

Tuelo

“Saint Margaret”

“Saint Margaret” kicks off with just a minimal guitar line and the soulful voice of Tuelo Minah. That’s actually all you need. But, as the underlying instrumentation picks up, Tuelo continues to drive the single with those powerful pipes of hers. The song pays tribute to Minah’s mother in a way that I find both empowering and tinged with a certain sorrow that I feel many women hold for the experiences of our mothers. “Saint Margaret” by Tuelo is emotionally moving and sonically compelling so I suggest you check the single below…

Luca Chesney

“Maria, Promise Me the Next Life”

There are some really interesting things happening in the subtle sound permutations on “Maria, Promise Me the Next Life”; the new single from NYC-based singer, songwriter, and producer Luca Chesney. This alt-electro track is a disembodied but emotionally textured journey. “Maria, Promise Me the Next Life” is the first single from Chesney’s s/t debut EP. I’m hoping to get my hands on that release sometime soon. In the meantime, enjoy this new single from Luca Chesney.

Madeleine Dopico

“Me to Bleed”

This isn’t the first time we’ve featured the music of Madeleine Dopico in our publication and I’m starting to think that we’re going to build a lasting relationship. The promising young songwriter crafts emotionally powerful soundscapes that she meets head on with her robust voice. On “Me to Bleed”, Dopico creates a haunting atmosphere for her brooding lyrics and manages to throw in just the right amount of dramatic flair to keep things interesting. That’s a combo a mortician’s daughter like myself can get behind in her pop music.

Bradford Loomis

“Drive You Home”

Bradford Loomis (of The Banner Days) dropped his first solo album since 2013 in March. Bravery and the Bell features this gem of a single, “Drive You Home”. Loomis penned the album after learning that his father was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. The soulful sound of Bradford Loomis’ folk style comes through with an earthy Americana that feels like it could easily find a home in Nashville, but the artist calls Washington (state… not that other one) home. Check out “Drive You Home” from Bradford Loomis here…

 Arpeggi

“Songs Don’t Help”

The Los Angeles songwriter who pens somber ditties under the name Arpeggi released her debut album, Senioritis, around this time last year. On that album, you’ll find “Songs Don’t Help” which delves into those Bell Jar moments when nothing seems to push back the skulking clouds of depression – not friends, not love, not even music (gasp). If you like your indie music stripped down and brooding, I suggest checking out “Songs Don’t Help” from Arpeggi. Or head here for the complete album.

7 Rad Music Videos: The Neo-Soul Edition

Kai Straw
“Hurricane”

Paul Rey
“All Falls Down”

Adam Naas
“Please, Come Back to Me”

Ashleyi Ascent
“Self Revelation”

Joel Culpepper
“Don’t Mean I’m in Love”

Population:7
“Blindspot”

Live Lan
“Whine”

For the Record: Silver Alert by Serene Dominic

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Dementia Awareness Week kicked off yesterday and, to mark the occasion, Serene Dominic released Silver Alert, his musical examination of the perils and joys of aging. Dominic dealt with the disease directly when it affected his own father. And now, as the artist moves into the realm of AARP, his work looks inward to explore what waits for all of us in that approaching Winter.

I have to say, this is a very timely topic for me this year. As my partner and I approach Middle Age (ahem), our parents are preparing to entering their Golden Years. And, at this pivotal time, there are things to be considered. Conversations to be had. For my family, the family of a coroner and mortician, we’re pretty comfortable with those little chats. How do you want to be cared for if you are no longer capable of caring for yourself? What do you want done with your remains after you die? That’s a normal Friday afternoon chat at my house.

Silver Alert takes a more personal approach to the topic of aging and delves into matters like cougar bars and vanishing record stores. The album explores a variety of different sounds as it explores its host of topics.

Of course, that’s no surprise given the breadth of Serene Dominic’s body of work. As you move through the discography, there are moments of pop, of glam, of vintage rocknroll, and just about everything else you might sample in a “History of Popular Music” course at your local university. Silver Alert provides a similar melting pot of sounds as the narrative unfolds.

I had a chance to chat with the man himself about the making of, and the inspiration behind, Silver Alert. Read my conversation with Serene Dominic below and don’t forget about the release party later this week! The album release happens on May 19th at The Rogue Bar in Scottsdale. A number of local favorites will be joining Serene Dominic’s GemSeekers including The Lonesome Wilderness, Carol Pacey & the Honeyshakers, The Bittersweet Way, and The 1140s. More information on that event can be found here.

Carly Schorman: Where did you record the album?

Serene Dominic: This was recorded at home, where I’ve recorded everything I’ve done since 2010. The Green Room is a spare bedroom in my Sunnyslope cinder block house, no sound proofing or anything and yet it sounds pretty dead which is great for drums and vocals. I always love reading about historic studios that it turns out were once former meat lockers or a movie theater like Stax. Or that Motown was once somebody’s home. I love hearing records where you can sort of hear the room. That has something to do with capturing a band performance as opposed to just writing a song as I record it with drum loops or samples, which is what I always do. So Silver Alert is half me recording with the GemSeekers and half what I usually do which is make up something with drum loops and write songs around beats. I hope it doesn’t sound like two different extremes.

And who might the “GemSeekers” be in this instance?

Since the beginning it’s been Nick Pasco who plays with The Breakup Society (who are gonna put a new album out soon on Onus Records) and Andrew Jemsek (from Drunk N Horny, Moonlight Magic, Fathers Day and a bunch of other bands). We used to have Andrew’s brother, Tristan Jemsek from Dogbreth and Diners, but he moved to Seattle. We also have Jedidiah Foster (from The Bittersweet Way) on guitar, although he was doing bass for some shows. Now we have Jim Dustan (from World Class Thugs and RPM Orchestra) on bass. If this lineup solidifies, we’ll probably do a whole album of just the band. Or maybe an EP.

Do you keep a running tally of the number of songs or albums you’ve released? Rough estimates also welcome.

I did when I was a teenager and first began writing songs and I had hundreds then. Of course, they were mostly crap but they had something that I might use later on. There’s two songs on the new album that are really pretty old, music-wise. “Go Value Yourself” was made up from bits of an older song I wrote when I was 18 and all jazzed up about Saturday night. And now it’s a pep talk for an old guy taking a job as a Walmart greeter!

I do the RPM Challenge every February, when you pledge to record an entire album of new music in 28 days every February, so I’ve built up quite a backlog. I’ve been doing that for seven years now and I’m kind of on a constant recording schedule year round. So it’s hundreds of songs. I’m in the middle of compiling a Serene D album discography /timeline and hopefully will get all of these up on the Onus Bandcamp site.

1. Box City: The Compleat Recordings [1992-1994]
2. Heathens of Vaudeville [1996]
3. Adult Contemptuous [recorded 1998 – released 2003]
4. Songs From The Serene Dominic Show EP [2008]
5. Unnatural Blonde [2010]
6. 24 Originals Happening Now [2011 – this had 25 songs!]
7. Winter Trance Party [2012]
8. Speculation [2013]
9. The Holiday Slides Project [2013 – cassette only]
10. For Your Extreme Convenience [2014]
11. Cutting Taylor Modern [2015 unreleased]
12. Swimming in the Head [Cast Album]
13. Dark Lullaby [2016 unreleased]
14. Silver Alert [2017]

Cutting Taylor Modern will come out when all the songs on it have been recorded by someone else. Dark Lullaby is a new musical which will come out when the musical is ready to be performed.

Silver Alert is proving quite the timely art piece in my personal life, but I’ll get to that in a moment. I was hoping you might share with our readers where the inspiration for this album came from?

I became preoccupied with aging because, well, I’m aging. The last two years are the first time I’ve been treated by people like I’m old, giving me the senior discount without me asking for it. I was looking for a title that reflected that.

I was originally going to call it From Here to Senility but then I kept driving around 1-17 and kept seeing Silver Alert warnings. And I was wondering where these old guys are fleeing to. Anthem? I just pictured Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond just not seeing a familiar tree and then running scared in a wrong direction for miles. I put myself in that mindset for “Pain In My Joints.” And there’s a song called “Where’s the White Shadow?” which I contributed to a Beastie Boys’ hardcore tribute album of Related Records last year. Its pretty unrecognizable from what they did. They wrote a bratty song about the TV show, “The White Shadow”, being cancelled but instead of coming from a young punk it’s coming from an old guy who’s disoriented because he can’t watch Ken Howard anymore.

I’ve seen that confusion up close and I’m scared because my father had dementia in his 80s and I saw a man who was always so meticulous all his life suddenly become permanently altered. And he watched a lot of TV towards the end which didn’t help because every newscaster or TV detective he’s mistaken for someone in his early life.

I freak out at the slightest thing that can seem like a senior moment. Like, all the sudden, I can’t remember the name of someone who was an SNL cast member. And I get defensive that, no, this is not a senior moment. I mean when I was 20, sure, I could name all the SNL cast members. I can still name those ones. But now we’ve had 40 plus years of names to forget. Fuck me if I forget the guy who played Deuce Bigelow for a couple of minutes. Who cares? I could look it up on the internet on my fucking phone. Why bother to commit anything to memory?

It seems to me like we’re much of the same mind. You don’t seem afraid to confront the notions of death and aging head on. Is that the result of your upbringing? Or the result of your years as a songwriter spent delving the reaches of your psyche for workable material?

I don’t think it has anything to do with my upbringing. I didn’t have deep philosophical conversations with my parents about death or anything like that growing up. I didn’t have anyone close to me die until I was 21. So my working knowledge of death when I was a child, the only people I always thought of as being dead were Buddy Holly, Laurel and Hardy, and JFK. And Nat King Cole because he died of cancer because he smoked.

So all my ideas about death weren’t fully formed until a lot later. Now this late in life when someone dies, it’s not as weird a thing. It’s like they just moved to The Netherlands. Recently, I found out an old friend and bandmate of mine died and I learned it through Facebook. So I wrote “Subterranean Heaven” about him. One day he was posting about some record he likes. Next day – The Netherlands!

What new project(s) do you have in the works?

[I] will probably release Dark Lullaby in the Fall and try to get [the show] put on then or the following spring. The original idea was to do it as a cast album, but I really love the way it came out as a standalone album so maybe the version I just did myself will come out as is. I mean, doing it as a live musical could take a while just to find someone who wants to do it. That’s my biggest priority. And The GemSeekers are going to be the band in the show so we’ll probably start doing a lot of those songs live too.

As a sideline, I’d like The GemSeekers to do an EP as well, so maybe we’ll just re-record some of the stuff from my previous records we do live and some Dark Lullaby stuff. Maybe do it live at Audioconfusion! I’ve been wanting to record somewhere else and I keep threatening Jalipaz that we’re gonna do it, but then I wind up demoing stuff and then I like the way it turns out. Recording yourself is a dangerous mindset. Like cutting your own hair.

Head out to the Silver Alert Release Party (and Onus Records’ Two-Year-Anniversary Celebration) at The Rogue Bar this weekend! More info here!

Music Video Premiere: SUNMONKS Release Surrealist Vision for “Cannibal Wit”

The NorCal duo known as SUNMONKS are gearing up for the grand unveiling of their first full-length album with a brand-spanking-new music video.

“Cannibal Wit” (as a single) creates quite a cinematic soundscape but I wasn’t quite prepared for the stunning accompaniment that the music video provides. One might describe this as a DIY effort given that the video was produced, edited and directed by SUNMONKS’ Geoffrey CK (songwriter) and Alexandra Steele (vocalist). Trouble is, when most musicians say “DIY music video,” it means a backyard, some homemade props, and maybe some of their more attractive friends.

SUNMONKS, however, appear to approach music videos as an extension of their creative process… not just visual fodder to function as eye candy while their song plays in the background.

And, we’re super proud to premiere the surrealist vision that is “Cannibal Wit” from the SUNMONKS right here and now. Make sure you keep scrolling past the video for our conversation with Geoffrey CK of SUNMONKS about the duo, making of the music video, and impending album. But, first, this…

YabYum: How did SUNMONKS come together as a musical force?

Geoffrey CK: The project was formed as a way to entertain our musician and artist friends. We used to play in lots of different projects, as vocalists or songwriters or arrangers, and there’d be a lot of downtime during rehearsals, or breaks during performances; so we just started playing whenever there was a crowd. After a few months of doing this, we started getting show requests, so we came up with a name we thought fitting, and started touring. It’s a bit unconventional to begin touring and performing before having recorded a single tune, but it’s the way it was done a long time ago; now, most music-based projects begin as a recording-project, and then move into performing.

Even though we’re based out of California, we actually played our first show as “SUNMONKS” in the west Texan town of Lubbock, but that’s a long story. The project is still an infant, but we’re excited about finally releasing this video and our first album!

Pretty trippy music video. I know the video was a DIY undertaking. Did you go into filming with a concept in mind? Or did you just decide to take some acid and see what happens?

The video wasn’t something we wanted to just “throw together”, so it involved a lot of location-scouting, post-production; we wrote screenplays, storyboards etc. We wanted it to look as sleek as we could make it, even though it was just two people with a camera. Our other videos lacked any kind of narrative-flow, and that’s something that we wanted to change this time around.

Initially, we didn’t intend for the “acid tab” to be exactly that; originally, it was supposed to be a “note” passed from Alexandra to myself. But when we looked at the footage, it was pretty clear what it was implying, so we just embraced it, adjusted the story, and continued. We both love the work of filmmaker, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and even though we didn’t have the production budget to get close to his style, we tried our best to make something that was beautiful, humorous, and also a bit strange, whilst still have some kind of discernible narrative.

Is this single part of a larger release?

This video is leading to the release of SUNMONKS’ first full-length album, called Two Play, out in early June. It was produced by John Baccigaluppi (Sea of Bees, Tape Op Magazine) and heavily features Mike Urbano (Cake, Bourgeois Tagg) on drums. There’s a Vice article about John, if you want more info on his work or background. The album was recorded at Panoramic House Studio, which is a newer studio. It’s the same studio where Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket recorded their newest albums, located in Stinson Beach, CA.

So both you and Alexa seem to have that vibrant-outdoor-NorCal vibe. How are you folx passing the time when not performing with SUNMONKS or making rad music videos?

When we’re not playing in SUNMONKS, we’ll often play in other peoples’ projects, or help people write songs, or go see our friends projects. We have a couple dogs, so we spend a lot of time outside, running around, hiking or swimming. When we’re in “recording-mode”, we’re often out in Stinson Beach, where we’ll go surf with our friend John Baccigaluppi, who produced our first album. Alexandra also makes videos for other acts; the last one she worked on was for folk singer, Tom Brosseau.