Arts

SunSquabi shares their insight about live improvisation, the use of technology in funk and connecting with fans

Colorado based trio SunSquabi will be performing at The Sylvee with The Floozies and Late Night Radio.

Colorado based trio SunSquabi will be performing at The Sylvee with The Floozies and Late Night Radio.

Image By: 11E1even GROUP

On Saturday, March 7, Colorado based trio SunSquabi will be performing at The Sylvee in Madison with The Floozies and Late Night Radio. Described as Electronic Hydro Funk, SunSquabi offers a blend of tight melodies, liquid grooves and improvisation to create an addicting sound and an energetic live performance. Having shared the stage and the spotlight with bands such as Umpherey’s McGee, Lettuce and GRiZ, SunSquabi carries more than its weight as part of the world of Electronic Funk, while simultaneously being able to innovate and create new ideas that give the band a sound of its own.

Chris Anderson, the drummer from SunSquabi, answered questions about his band’s sound, music and live performances, including how live improvisation is incorporated into their recordings as well as the use of technology onstage. Anderson also shared his thoughts on the genre as a whole as well as how SunSquabi connects with their fans. 

What sticks out to you about playing in Madison?

“We love Madison, it’s got a young, vibrant college vibe similar to CU Boulder. That’s where I went to school, [SunSquabi] all met each other going to see shows in Boulder. But yeah, Madison has a great scene and a vibrant student body and we’re really looking forward to playing there … we did The Sylvee with Umpherey’s McGee last time, so we’re excited to be back.”

What can you share about what fans can expect from the show on Saturday?

“We have a lot of new music we’re working on. We actually just finished up our new album, so we’ll be playing a lot of songs from that. We’re going to be putting out our first single in a few weeks, and then the whole album should be released later this spring. We’re really looking forward to playing those new tunes and trying them out.”

SunSquabi is considered Electronic Hydro-Funk, what are the similarities and differences between the music you make and the funk of old?

“We definitely incorporate the use of newer technology. For example, Josh [on bass] plays the old-school funk bass lines that he’s been playing for years, but then we’ve also implemented the synthesizer bass … we’re incorporating a newer age sound to an old style of music.

It’s really cool what we can do in terms of audio manipulation. We do a lot of live looping and stuff like that. I think that we have the roots of old funk music in us — we all love it, we all listen to it all the time — but [we’re using] these newer tools to [put] a new spin on an older style of music.”

What is the role of technology in Electronic Funk?

“It definitely enables us to [create more sounds] than would be possible with six hands. It can enable us to bring some layers into the live show that physically wouldn’t be possible. We can put our heads together to create a [new] soundscape … it’s endless possibilities. And we’ll do things like sample stuff on the road that we hear or that we experience and put it in the track on the live show.”

SunSquabi incorporates elements of both Jam Bands and Funk, what is SunSquabi’s role in the link between those genres?

“We have songs that are really tight in their format and I think that is more on the funk side of things — where we have these specific sections that we wrote [and] we feel great about. But we also have parts of the live show where we’ll go off on total tangents. We’ll write it in the set list to say, ‘hey, in the middle of the song, we’ll do a breakdown and start up a new idea, a new jam … and then bring back the song format.’ [That] mixes it up, because we don’t want to be playing the same set every night. That’s no fun for us, it’s no fun for [fans].”

What is it like to be a part of that improvisation live onstage?

“It’s exciting … it’s kind of like taking a risk with music, which is really fun. We know the songs that we’ve written, and we feel confident knowing exactly how we want to do them, [but on the other hand] to take these risks and really go for it is really enjoyable for us. We push each other to come up with new ideas on the spot. [We also] go back and listen to the recordings, and maybe there’s a new idea for a song. We’ve totally done that before, taken those ideas back to the studio and made studio pieces out of those elements.”

SunSquabi is currently touring with The Floozies and Late Night Radio, you’ve worked with GRiZ, played festivals and shows with Lettuce and Umpherey’s McGee. What is it like to be a part of that community?

“It’s awesome. You know, we grew up listening to all these bands. I discovered Lettuce when I was a sophomore in high school googling funk bands when I got super into the genre. Then 10 years later [we’re] playing shows with them, and [I’m getting to hang] out with their drummer, [who’s] one of my favorite drummers, Adam Deitch. It’s just been really cool to have these guys be heroes and kind of lead the way for the kind of music scene that we’re in, and then now being able to share stages with them. It’s something really special and it’s something that we don’t take for granted.”

How does being a Colorado band influence your music?

“Well, Denver is a huge hub for music … It’s a really friendly community, it’s not competitive. It’s more like everybody is pushing each other to be better, to think outside the box and do new things with music. You see that with collaborations and sit-ins. It’s a real community feel and we’re stoked to be a part of it.”

What can fans expect from your new live album, “Live 2019,” and how does it differ from your last live album, “SunSquabi (Live at Red Rocks)”?

“Well the Red Rocks live album was one particular show, one we co-headlined with Opium. That was a super special night for us and we wanted to capture that whole moment, that whole set, and put it out on Spotify, [and] we have it pressed for vinyl.

The “Live 2019” is a compilation. It goes all the way back to January 2019 when we headlined the Filmore in Denver — it was one of our biggest headline [shows] in Colorado to date — the first couple songs are from that. [From there, the songs] are in chronological order of the year, all the way to our fall tour. So they’re all different selections from different shows but we tried to create a feel like it was one set.”

Congratulations on being added to the roster of Pearl Drums. What does that award mean to you?

“I’ve been playing drums my whole life. My father was the head of the Berklee Percussion Department, so I’ve been playing since I was five years old. It’s really cool to be a part of Peal Drums after playing them all these years.”

Tell me a bit about how the Squab Hotline, a phone number where fans can text the band directly, has allowed you to connect with your fanbase in a new way.

“It’s been a super fun platform, especially while we’re out on tour. We’ll do ‘ask me anything’ times where we’ll open up the … hotline while we’re just sitting in the green room or hanging out waiting for sound check or before dinner or whatever.

We’ll also do setlist requests. For each show, a couple days before, we’ll pop on [the hotline] and say, ‘hey, what do you guys want to hear,’ and people text us their requests. That’s a fun way to build our set and know what people are wanting to hear.

We’ll hear stories, or people will send pictures of their pets wearing merch, funny stuff like that. It’s been a great experience and a cool direct connection with fans.”

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