SUNFLOWER BEAN leapt out of New York around five years ago, and the trio have been making their mark across the US and Europe ever since. After the success of their critically acclaimed debut album, Human Ceremony, the release of their second album was imminent. TwentyTwo In Blue lands later this month and focuses on themes that are not so alien to us.
The penmanship of the second album reflects the tumultuous period between December 2016 and 2017, a year-long period which saw America open the door to a TV personality and business mogul to the highest office of government, an amounting public outcry over police brutality and the introduction of a more prominent Women’s Rights movement. The world is a very different place to when their first album hit the floor, and with this comes a more mature sound. The choice of involving Jacob Portrait as co-producer makes sure that Sunflower Bean are still exploring their sonic textures with more direct and progressive themes.
Crisis Fest the latest single from the upcoming release is less about the turbulent political landscape, and more about those who will make sure a change will come soon to the US. The single and music video focuses on the fans and younger generation, rather than the band, and that is something that the trio believe is the key.
Ahead of their upcoming Liverpool show, Daisy Scott caught up with vocalist-bassist Julia Cumming and drummer Jacob Faber to delve deeper into the influences behind the new album, and what it means to be a female-fronted trio in the midst of a post-Weinstein era.
It has been said that your new album, TwentyTwo In Blue, is more mature in nature. How do you think that idea has evolved on the album?
Jacob Faber: Over the past two years since Human Ceremony came out we’ve done so much touring and playing together. We’ve experienced so many different things from traveling around the world it keeps us constantly growing as a band. I think we definitely set out to make a record that is more mature, we always want to keep growing and moving forward creatively as a band.
Why do you think Jacob Portrait was a good fit to work with on production for the new album? Was there anything you’d seen/heard from his previous work that you particularly liked?
JF: JP was so fun to work with! We have been fans of Unknown Mortal Orchestra for a while as well some of his other work mixing and producing bands like Tops and (Sandy) Alex G. We had a meeting with him and played him some of the recordings we had and he seemed genuinely excited so we decided to give it a shot! He has such a good ear for mixing and production.
We can’t talk about the inspirations behind the new album without discussing the political and cultural changes in America. You wrote the album between December 2016 and 2017: how do you think this time period influenced your writing?
JF: Yeh! So, Fall 2016 we had just finished up the last Human Ceremony tour around the US, and had seen so much of the country and met so many different people around the time of the election. When we got home and started writing this album I think the thoughts of meeting all these people and seeing so many different places all over the world were weighing heavy on us and manifested itself in some of the music.
Julia, your new @angercanbepowernyc project aims to help integrate people’s DIY spirit with their political activism. Why do you think this is something important to implement?
Julia Cumming: I wanted to create something you could do on a Tuesday or Thursday evening that would help build community.
I read somewhere that you wanted to make the album “lovable”. What do you think you have done to make the album just that?
JF: We put all of our love and energy into it!
As a female-fronted trio, do you believe that you come across any limitations in the industry?
JC: I don’t think we experience any limitations at this point that scare us or affect anything we do.
If you had any words of advice for young girls who want to be involved in the music industry, whether that be journalists or involved in a band, what would they be?
JC: Stop thinking that you’re an imposter. You have the right to be wherever you are, doing whatever you do. Don’t listen to the voice in your head that says you’re unqualified, that says you’re not ready, that says people are going to judge you for not being good enough yet. Don’t let anyone’s weird little comments burn forever in your mind and hurt you over and over. Find the people that make you feel strong and good, and grow with them. Practice, because nobody can take that away from you. That is your freedom.
Why is music important to you?
JF: Music is important to me because it’s been my best friend since I was born, music has never left my side.
JC: Music is everything. It is the flavour of life, it’s the reason for living, it’s the reason for breathing. It starts the day, it ends the day, it keeps every moment alive. What else is there to say?
Sunflower Bean play the Substation @ Invisible Wind Factory on 31st March. TwentyTwo In Blue is out on 23rd March via Lucky Number.