WTUL New Orleans

Colorado-based band, SunSquabi, has mastered the art of engaging their audience and listeners. Before gearing up for the last leg of their tour, they’re stopping at BUKU Music + Art Project in New Orleans this Friday, March 22nd. The group fuses electronic, funk, hip hop, metal, and jam band-like styles, in creating a sound defined as an “electronic hydro-funk experience.” I was lucky to speak with Kevin, the group’s guitarist, producer, and keyboardist, on the group's musical production style, Denver’s music community, their multiple roles in creating the whole live experience, and how he believes music is being defined today.

Part of the meshing of these musical styles can be attributed to SunSquabi’s involvement in the Denver music scene, which connects them to musicians all over the nation. Kevin, who lives close to the music venue Cervantes in Denver, described the community-feel that he and touring musicians share.

 I’ve got this constant flow of musicians from all over the country who are here playing gigs and then will come over and jam. We’ve kind of created that network from all the festivals we’ve played, bands that we’ve toured with, and when they’re in Colorado it’s like “Come over and play my drum set and hang out!” We’re really blessed because of the combination of those factors of living in a place where music is very vibrant and alive and then also getting a lot of experience from traveling and listening to a bunch of different bands and getting to open for different bands.

These various genres are evident in SunSquabi’s recent release, Instinct. Kevin shared the production process of Instinct and the commonalities and differences of producing this album compared to their last one. The group combined two methods: 1) recording what they improvised on tour and then layering these tracks differently in the studio, and 2) bringing tracks they’ve recorded ahead of time and improvising over those tracks with more complex ideas. Combined, the two methods composed an album that keeps listeners alert while still possessing the same textures and rhythmic ideas that have defined SunSquabi’s style and creativity.

SunSquabi’s music production aspect is matched with an engaging and detail-oriented visual production for their shows. Similar to the improvisational aspect of their music, SunSquabi’s visual content also varyies from show to show. When asked about what attendees can expect for BUKU this Friday, Kevin explained that they worked closely with Ian Davis, who also does lighting and visuals for GRiZ, in creating video that aligns with the mood of their tracks that also tells a story. They are also bringing a new visual element on the last leg of their tour, which we should keep a look out for!

The questions surrounding both the musical and visual production aspects set the foundation for my last question for Kevin, which gauged his thoughts on how music is currently being defined if it is not being explicitly defined by genre. Kevin credited traveling and seeing a wide range of musical styles as altering genre’s role in defining music.

My category for if music is really good is not if you like a certain kind of music or you don't, it’s more, does it make you feel something? Does it engage your attention in that moment and really pull you into it? It’s really about gripping someone by their soul in that moment, and I think that’s what people are really looking for.

As the music environment is moving away from the “hating everything is cool” attitude, Kevin expressed that this more open-minded approach has allowed bands to be more open about experimenting with music, which paves the way for diverse styles and sub-genre

I’m really excited about where it’s at right now. I think what people are really looking for is something that’s really engaging and interesting. The way we try to accomplish that, if we’re consciously thinking about it at all, is to keep ourselves interested – always changing it up, always be pushing the limits of what we know we can do. You gotta do things that make you uncomfortable and challenge yourself. We try to do that and keep things fresh like that.

You can catch SunSquabi’s epic performance at BUKU this Friday at 3:45pm at the Ballroom Stage.

Can’t make it to BUKU? See them at a tour stop near you while they’re on the East Coast and in the Midwest!

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