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    HomeCultureQ&A: Here Comes the Artist Known as SUN Bringing Us Brutal Pop!

    Q&A: Here Comes the Artist Known as SUN Bringing Us Brutal Pop!

    I am so excited to introduce SUN. She’s an incredible singer, songwriter, actress and overall artist extraordinaire. This interview was special because of how open and vulnerable SUN was in sharing her history and artistry. From the German Black Forest to Paris and now the Americas we discuss Edith Piaf, Nina Hagen and all things Brutal Pop. Her new single “John & I (money)” drops in the US market on December 9th. Don’t miss it.

    MH: Can you talk about where you grew up?

    S: I grew up between the Black Forest in Germany and Champagne, France. My childhood was very tumultuous, I was always surrounded by music, artists, and interesting adults but also by tragedies. I was a very lonely child, but I loved drawing, singing and dancing in my room while my mom would throw parties downstairs. I wouldn’t say my childhood was my favorite part of life, too many hardships for one little heart but dealing with difficult stuff early on made me very strong.

    MH: What music played in your environment and who was playing it?

    S: My father (who died one day before my sixth birthday) would play super loud music in his car. We would cruise around the highway at 200 km/h and listen to weird disco pop/new wave stuff from England. He made me listen to disco, German bands of all kinds and also some French chansons.

    My mom on the other hand has always been singing. She had to support the family with day jobs but every weekend she would sing somewhere else and take me with her. It definitely made me want to be on stage too!

    MH:  It makes perfect sense to me that you were inspired by Courtney Love’s first Hole album “Celebrity skin”. Can you elaborate on being 12 years old, hopeless, feeling like “an emotional ashtray” and in what way the song “Violet” gave you hope?

    S: Courtney Love literally saved my life! I had a very hard childhood, filled with the deaths of loved ones, heavy bullying at school and severe depression. Adding to that I was in a very isolated place, the Black Forest. I often felt like there was no way out for me… I was VERY lonely. And then one day Courtney Love popped up in my TV with her pink Fender Venus… I was blown away, I felt like there was someone that was a little bit like me, with a voice like me and who took shit from no one. She became my Idol. Then one day I got very sick and as the doctors told my mom there was not much they could do to help me she made me listen to “Live through this” on headphones in my hospital bed. I was unconscious at that moment, so I don’t remember, but the next morning I woke up (which I wasn’t supposed to) and the medication that my body had rejected the night before started working. Courtney Love saved my life! Literally!

    MH:  In the Instagram post where you cover “Violet” (which, BTW is genius!) you thank Courtney for her advice. Was this personal advice she gave you or advice you took from her songwriting? What advice was it?

    S: Thank you so much, I’m so glad you enjoy it! I wanted to make a little wordplay because Kurt Cobain says “forever in debt to your priceless advice” in Nirvana’s song “heart shaped box” about her.

    So, I wanted to thank her for her unintentional advice in Violet “Go on take everything”. In my life it didn’t mean what it was probably intended to mean in the original song. To me it meant “go on, live! Take what’s yours! Get out of this place that chokes you! Be what you truly are!”

    MH:  At what age did you think you would pursue music and acting as a career path?

    S: My mom likes to say that I sang before I could even talk. At eight months I apparently sang the Italian classic “volare” without speaking Italian! But I really decided to become a musician at the age of twelve. And from then on my whole life revolved around music and I have never stopped since then.

    Acting came into my life a lot later when directors of musicals and French theatre plays would give me more and more lines to say when I had only been hired as a singer. The big screen came like that, too. Tony Gatlif had heard of me, we met and something just felt right. So acting is more like a very cool hobby that I love and that fascinates me buy music is the air I breathe, the blood in my veins, the reason I’m still standing!

    SUN – Brutal Pop

    MH:  You were raised in the small German village of Etzenrot in the Black Forest and moved to France at a crucial age of 15. Talk about what effect it had on you.

    S: Moving to Paris was not the best move on the map of rock n roll. France is not a country that pushes its rock and metal artists. Gojira had to be nominated for a Grammy in the US to have a short live performance on French TV… but moving to Paris was a very good move to start all over after all of trauma I had left in the Black Forest and develop as an artist. There is so much beauty and innovation in Paris. I just let the Brutal Pop ooze out of me.

    MH:  Did this move at such a pivotal time affect your future songwriting or creativity? If so, how?

    S: I developed unexpected skills in Paris. Because there aren’t many infrastructures that care about rock and loud music, I had to make my songs work in other environments, in small cabarets, in a contemporary dance show, rearrange them more edm to get into the rooster of a promoter, more urban to get a gig.

    MH:  The story of how you came up with your stage name “SUN” to pay homage to your father who passed, is so touching. The Sunflower on his Gravestone that was destroyed was what gave you the name SUN. knowing it would give you the opportunity to speak about your father during interviews like this. Is there something you would like to share about your relationship with your father and how he continues to affect your creativity both in music and acting?

    S: I was very lucky to have had the best dad ever! My father was a very strict, but very funny and loving man! He would take me on crazy car rides, with super loud music during which he would smoke out of the window. Sometimes we would drive at night, and I loved seeing the bright city lights and the loud music. My dad was a businessman, so sometimes he only came home on the weekends. But as soon as he arrived he would come to my bed, tell me jokes, do some math exercises so I would be good with money (that was his thing, making me good with money). We laughed a lot, he made me hit him in the stomach to “train me” – my mom could not stand this – but he wanted me to be strong. Now that I took on his symbol as my stage name, I feel like I carry his strong mind with me! I love him so much and I’m truly grateful that he was in my life! Even if it was too short.

    MH: As a young woman in the French music scene were their obstacles and challenges you had to overcome that may have been gender specific. If so, what would you tell and or advise a young female musician just starting out?

    S: When I moved to France from Germany, I felt the sexism pouring down on me like rain! Not that it doesn’t exist in Germany, but my creativity, my guitar playing and screaming were encouraged there and I had clubs to play in and band mates that where very excited about my skills. As soon as I arrived in France, I felt that loud women were not very welcome and that there where specific ways to do things in order to be approved by male peers, professionals and even girls. You had to be either a blues rock shredder or a very arty model to be accepted. Technicians, producers, A&R people… everywhere I went, I had to deal with remarks or insults regarding me being a woman who played guitar with her own unique technique and who likes to scream from time to time. What helped me through it was the strength I had gained in my childhood. After all of those hard things I had overcome I was not going to be discouraged by a misogynist system. Nuh-uh.

    MH:  You discovered the bestial growl/scream after a tragic incident in the Black Forest where you had to protect yourself and save your life. It’s so mind blowing to hear this sound come out of you. We find this scream of expression on most of your songs. What does this bestial roar/scream do for you now as you introduce it into new songs?

    S: Yes! Screaming literally saved my life when I was thirteen years old! It didn’t prevent me from getting hurt but that scream gave me the seconds I needed to get away! Since that day I have been obsessed. I always wondered: why me? Why did I scream that way in that moment? How did I make that? Why do I have the ability to form such a weird, loud sound? Since then, I have used screaming to get strong emotions across – positive and negative. Sometimes belting is just not enough, even raspy singing is not on the same level of intensity as a true scream. So when I write a song that has a strong climax or intense lyrics and I feel that it could sound more authentic, I just scream the notes. That’s also why I call my music “ Brutal Pop”. Traditional Pop and Pop Rock is just a little too tight for me, I have a large emotional spectrum to get across and I love intensity.

    SUN – Brutal Pop

    MH: We need to know about your fashion influences and how your look has developed.

    S: Fashion was my first love! When I was a little girl I would draw designs of clothes in my room for hours and then put the outfits together with whatever I had and put on fashion shows for my mom’s tipsy friends.

    I have always been influenced by Japanese fashion and anime characters. The anime “Nana” for example but also Sailor moon. It goes without saying that Vivienne Westwood’s work and brands like Come des Garçons or Jean Paul Gauthier are core influences of mine. But I’ve also been inspired by the traditional costumes that surrounded me when I was a child in the Black Forest. Traditional dirndl dresses, winter coats, Romy Schneider’s dresses and hair in “Sissy the Empress” have also played into my weird princess esthetic. The third element that molded my style has always been urban sportswear. I got that from my big brother who used rap in a band (in French) and just hanging out in the Parisian suburbs.

    So my fashion goal in life is to be a real-life princess sissy with a Vivienne punk edge and some unexpected sports elements and colors in there.

    MH:  Your fashion choices come across as authentic, intentional, and confident. Can you speak about your thought process regarding wardrobe as you prepare for a show, appearance, or music video?

    S: I’m very aware of my image and the power of fashion. Every piece of wardrobe I wear is there to make a statement or to help bring a strong message across. When I prepare for a tour, I make sure that a have outfits that I can restyle several times, that way the pictures the fans take always stay exciting and fresh. Stage clothes need to be practical, I headbang and play the guitar so I’m not afraid to cut up some designer stuff and make it work for sweaty live shows.

    For music videos I have an archive that I ongoingly supply with thrifted pieces. I never buy something if I don’t love it or see myself wearing it in a music video.

    I also work with designers but very specific ones who make dresses and pieces themselves (or who are very involved in the fabrication) that require real craftsmanship and passion. For Cannes Film Festival 2021 for example I had two options: Go with a very big fashion house but take whatever they had prepared for me or go with the coolest goth designer David’s Road (through the Parisian store “Springsioux”). I went with option two and slayed that carpet with a huge, black “princess of the darkness” dress and “Parts of 4” Jewelry. In a sea of stars wearing what the big brands had prepared for them I felt so good being myself and having great friends and artists to wear when the flashlights went off.

    I’m also very aware of the morals and environmental aspects of fashion. 

    MH: You’re not only an incredible musician, but you’re a very talented actress. When did you start acting? Who influenced this decision and how did you start acting?

    S: It happened really organically but as I said above, acting is something I really love, it’s like a hobby that I’m obsessed by. Music is my life, my blood, the air I breathe. Both are very important to me.

    MH: Congratulations on Playing Stella in Director Tony Gatlif’s film “Tom Medina”. You also wrote 5 songs for the film. How was it being able merge both of your creative talents into one project (acting, singing, performing)?

    S: Thank You so much! This movie was a dream come true! Playing a bad ass farrier who works with horses and who plays my brutal pop on screen was a big gift in my career! 

    MH:  You’ve played Edith Piaf, what an honor! What would you like to share about that experience.

    S: Playing Piaf in a musical made me learn more about one of her main songwriters Margerite Monnot. It is absolutely mind blowing to play Piaf and to learn about her life, but Margerite was such a talented composer and pianist. We also went on tour in Asia with this show and it was the beginning of my love relationship with Japan.

    MH: You also played the mother of Punk, Nina Hagen. Did she help you with your research? Is there something you can tell me about this project that you have not previously revealed?

    S: I was very lucky to embody Nina Hagen in a play at the Avignon Theatre Festival. I loved playing a character where I could switch from German to French all the time… whilst screaming and singing classical. It was fun and challenging. I opened for Nina in Paris at the Bus Palladium in 2016… but I didn’t get to meet her…

     

    MH: You’re releasing your second single in the US market on December 9th titled “John & I (money)” which I cannot get it out of my head… it’s so great! This is released on legendary music maven, Vicky Hamilton’s indie record label, Dark Spark Music. What is your long-term plan for you in the United States?

    S: I want my brutal pop to meet its audience in the US! I want to meet my American audience and also come over and tour for an extended period of time! I mean, I grew up on riot grrrl’s, Michael Jackson and Metal… so I think I need to give back now. “America, you’ve influenced me so much, now please have this!” is the kind of spirit I’m in. It is a big dream for everyone in the music industry to make it in the US. The US are number one on so many levels!  Since I was a child, I knew there was something I needed to go do in the US. Now that I am so fortunate to be working with rock royalty Vicky Hamilton, I can’t wait to take this further and come play live. In the meantime, my American online fanbase is steadily growing and we have more and more streams from the US. Fingers crossed!

    MH: Your music videos are so brilliant especially your newest “Wave”. I really enjoy the fashion, beautiful locations, and concepts that you put together. Who collaborates with you and who shoots them?

    S: I’m so glad you love them. I pour all of my heart into the videos. I love making music videos, it is a lot of fun. I shoot all of my videos with my bass player and partner in crime Bassem Ajaltouni. It often starts with me drawing the key visual, in “Wave” for example I drew myself in the big heart of thorns. Then we talked about it and I made a story board.

    Bassem directs or co-directs the videos with me, and we hire a director of photography when we can. 

    MH: Are there any acting or music releases that you can mention that are coming up for you?

    S: I’m very excited to announce that my new single “JOHN & I (MONEY)” is coming out on Friday December 9 on Dark Spark Music and my second EP “BRUTAL POP 2” is coming out in January 13th, 2023, Friday the 13 ❤️🔥

    MH: When will you come to the US?

    S: Hopefully soon! Vicky and Bassem are working on making this happen! It is my main priority to come and tour in the US

    Please check out Sun on all streaming platforms and follow her for her newest music and projects coming up her new single releases on December 9th on all platforms. Remember there are a lot of SUN’s so search with all caps (SUN Brutal Pop) .

    Readers, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think or a suggested artist interview. I am always looking for emerging artists who are soon to be household names.

    LINKS:

    Instagram
    @SUN_Brutal_Pop

    YouTube
    @SunBrutalPop

    U.S. bookings
    Vicky Hamilton – Manager
    aestheticvblog@gmail.com

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    Michael Holdaway
    Michael Holdawayhttp://www.MichaelHoldaway.com
    WeHo Times Music contributor, Michael Holdaway has been a resident of West Hollywood since Its inception. He's also a rocker and activist since his inception. As a wardrobe stylist and costume designer, he has worked in film, television and rock 'n' roll tours for more than a couple of decades and is the current chief architect of “Indie Style.” Find him on Instagram at @michealholdaway1. MichaelHoldaway.com Stylist@MichaelHoldaway.com
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    Philliph Bialecki
    Philliph Bialecki
    Offline
    20 days ago

    I’m hooked!! Come to the US!! We didn’t invent punk or metal, but we did, like you , take it a totally new direction – Nirvana-Hole-Metallica. 

    Paul McMullen
    Paul McMullen
    Offline
    1 month ago

    Love your creativity SUN, please don’t forget us in England, we also have need of Brutal Pop!

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