22 March 2011

Interview with Sun Airway!

"The craziest nights of our lives always happen in New Orleans."

Last Sunday night, after Art/Official’s Foburg showcase at Saturn Bar with Small Black, Cults, Cloud Nothings, and Sun Airway, I caught up with Jon Barthmus, frontman of Philadelphia bliss-pop outfit Sun Airway. They started the night off beautifully with a visually and aurally engaging set. This outstanding band has been turning heads in the indie world recently, and righteously so. They bring to mind a hybrid of Animal Collective and The Postal Service, with their own added authenticity. Their debut album Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier came out last year. In the front seats of their tour van, we discussed the following…

art/official: You guys have found a great medium between organic and electronic in your music. How did you accomplish that?
  • Jon Barthmus: That was the main intention going into the record. We were coming from a guitar rock background, but I always wanted to make electronic music. For Sun Airway, the music is “synthetic,” but I wanted to make it real.

a/o: How do you usually approach writing a song?

  • JB: It really runs the gamut. Usually lyrics come first because that’s the hardest part for me. I really write in every possible way. Sometimes I’ll work on a song for months and months, and sometimes I’ll finish a song within a day. There’s really no rhyme or reason to the process.

a/o: I saw a video of you guys playing an acoustic version of “Oh, Naoko,” and it had a real folk/Americana vibe. Do you tend to experiment with different ways to play songs?

  • JB: I’ve been experimenting with electronic music for a really long time. I wanted to make a record that was mine. All of the songs can be played with real instruments, but that’s really expensive, and during recording I didn’t have a ton of money. A lot of the songs can be played in different ways. The final product on record is what I wanted to put out there, though.

a/o: Do you write all of the songs yourself?
  • JB: Yeah, I write them all myself. After everyone quit my old band (the A-Sides), the drummer and I continued making music. I would record a bunch of stuff on my own in my basement, and bring some of it to the studio.

a/o: After touring, what’s your next move?
  • JB: We’re working on a 7” to put out this summer. We’re going to try to do a European tour. We’re doing Pitchfork Festival this summer along with a few others.

a/o: Do you have any collaborations in the works?
  • JB: I really wanna do something with Jana from Lower Dens. I love doing remix swaps, too.

a/o: Judging from the sound of the songs on the album, it sounds like somewhat of a break up album, but I see you’re wearing a wedding ring. What’s the story there?

  • JB: It’s not really a break up record. A lot of it was inspired by the book Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Actually, the songs “Oh, Naoko” and “Waiting On You” come directly from the novel. The book just really spoke to me. It’s this great, heartbreaking, coming-of-age work. I won’t give too much away, but I definitely recommend it. Then take a song like “Put the Days Away,” where it might sound like a break up, but it’s more about time in general. But yeah, the album isn’t entirely autobiographical.

a/o: What do you think of New Orleans so far?
  • JB: I love it here. The craziest nights of our lives always happen in New Orleans.

More Sun Airway:

For more from Sun Airway head over to: http://sunairway.com/

Article and interview by Connor Crawford

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