Clipping is out now! We caught up with the duo to chat about the release and more.
Bristol based electronica duo Sun Spot recently unveiled their superb EP, Clipping, released via Rosecoloured Records.
Continuing their exploration of spatial and atmospheric sonics, the release leans into the abstract dream-pop, comparable to The 1975, juxtaposing technical electronics with human topics. Across the collection of songs, the duo capture confronting emotions of vulnerability and anxiety, offering a space of relatability for listeners. Frontman frontman Will Palmer's spellbinding vocals float above scintillating production with with synthesised ambient sonics.
The musical project of George Turner and Palmer, the pair met whilst studying in college and originally began working together in a former band, before venturing out and creating Sun Spot. Taking inspiration from a vast selection of genres, Sun Spot have been firmly cementing their place as one of the most exciting up-and-coming dream-pop duos in the game.
Tell us a bit about your musical background and Sun Spot’s origin story…
WILL: Sun Spot basically came around as a way for the two of us to make music together with no pretence over how it would sound or who it was for, it’s just us having a really good time fumbling our way through whatever our sound is and seeing how much we can mess with it.
George and I are from really different musical backgrounds - the man’s a musician genius in every sense of the word; he can shred, he’s theory savvy, a master producer, incredibly handsome and available for music tuition for just £30 an hour! I, however, am a himbo. I haven’t had a lesson in my life and have absolutely no idea what I’m doing - I’m winging it, but somehow it works.
We’ve always been really fond of artists like Porches or From Indian Lakes - their sound evolves pretty drastically from each release and that experimental approach is something we try and incorporate into the art we make together. We love pop music, but we also love the freedom to make whatever kind of music we want.
Congratulations on your superb new EP, Clipping. There’s an interesting juxtaposition with the EP, pairing technical electronics with very human topics, capturing confronting emotions of vulnerability and anxiety. How important was it for you to use this release as a vehicle to document these themes and offer up a relatable body of work?
W: Thanks so much! And thank you for your support on the record too - we really appreciate it!!
It’s kinda strange to think of anything I’ve done as relatable haha, I guess I hadn’t really given it much thought but the process of songwriting has always felt really personal and cathartic. Sometimes I’ll look back at a finished song after a while and then it hits me what I was on about, so if anyone takes anything away from the songs on Clipping, that’s sick, and I’m deeply honoured.
The EP was created during lockdown. What challenges did you face creating during this period, or did it allow you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself within creating?
GEORGE: Definitely the latter! Getting totally lost in something creative is one of the only things that’s felt normal during that period. It was a mad time, and it really gave us space to ruminate, we were able to be more fragile and meticulous than we’d ever been before at every step along the way.
You self produced the EP, which sonically leans into the abstract dream-pop that could perfectly slot into The 1975’s discography. How did you arrive at the overall sonic exploration of Clipping?
G: Wow, thank you! The short answer is we wrote/recorded/produced an awful lot before we arrived where Sun Spot is now. By the time we started work on Clipping I think we both knew exactly where we wanted to take it.
Will and I grew up mostly playing in DIY punk bands, and definitely always loved the harsher more chaotic side of music making, I think we both had a lot of fun letting that seep its way into Sun Spot in varying degrees.
For me, Clipping was the first time I felt I could approach working with the laptop with a genuinely open mindset - I really think that let us make all our ideas happen. I think it worked well, pushing all of that twisted nonsense into something where the sound design is inherently quite clean and crisp. I love that combination of very human, sometimes ugly sounds with something as sterile and ‘accurate’ as a drum machine, or arp bass.
What are the advantages of having that control over your own music (through producing), and what’s the most important thing you’ve learned about producing your own music whilst making this record?
G: Again, I think it comes back to that freedom to be meticulous, me and Will both seem to operate on ‘the big picture' almost as soon as there’s an initial idea floating around. With that type of songwriting its nice to have the space to try everything and let the song reveal itself through constant changes and developments.
We also both listen to a lot of artists where its made by one person, or a small group of people - I’ve always rated how it allows you to use each instrument or sound totally selectively. I know when I play guitar in a band, I wanna make noise on that thing all the time!! I love making music where that chaos mentality influences what instruments, or sounds are taking place, and how quickly and drastically you can switch it up and flip it all on its head.
The main thing we learnt during that writing and recording process is that nothing is off limits. I feel, Clipping got to where it is sonically because we weren’t afraid to try anything, and always let our wide range of influences creep in as naturally as possible. I appreciate it's a little vague, but during the making of Clipping it felt like we communicated more than before, but somehow spoke to each other less. The whole thing seemed less literal or tangible than it ever had before, yet somehow more concise in its finished form.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process when writing and recording this particular collection of songs?
W: So these songs came about just after last New Year’s, it was during lockdown so we were bunkered away, piecing together this really weird pop monster, which in reflection was a pretty intense process. It was really rewarding too, though, and we’re really proud of what we did with Clipping. We were pretty set on being as weird as we could, I remember that for sure.
I wasn’t in a particularly bad place mentally when we made the record, but I was definitely set on exorcising some demons I’d been sitting on lmao
How did the EP evolve and change as you were creating it, and were there any tracks left on the cutting room floor that you think might have a life in the future?
W: To be honest, I think we have a pretty ruthless approach to songwriting - there’s a lot of music we’ve made together that will probably never get released. We have a lot of fun writing songs together and try to always use it as a learning experience.
The process for Clipping stands out to me as coming about in a very organic way, I think Ego Death was the first song we wrote and it all snowballed from there. We always try to have a bunch of finished songs to choose from but the first 6 we wrote actually ended up being the record. I’d love to look back at the other ones at some point but equally I’m excited to see what we write next!
You’ve released some great visuals that accompany the EP, both visual and still. How important do you think the visuals are when it comes to creating the identity of a body of work?
G: Thank you again!! A lot of those visuals were done by our friend Harry Steel who’s an amazing artist and videographer (go check it out now!), the rest were done by myself. If I remember rightly, we had some artworks floating around when we finished recording the EP and decided quite far down the line to scrap it and start over.
By that time the mixes were almost done and we had a much better handle on exactly how the EP was sounding, so the artwork followed suit. We were able to make it more personal too - the photograph used on the front of the EP is taken from our living room window, that kind thing.
Me and Will both LOVE physicals, and that naturally leads to a love of the visuals that accompany music too. Clipping is our first vinyl release and we’ve gone ham with it! Beyond the visual element being hugely important, I think we both just love doing it!
If Clipping was a piece of visual art that already exists, which artwork would best capture the essence of the record?
G: That’s a great question! Definitely something surreal, more specifically Conversation between Rock and Flower by Roland Penrose comes to mind. It’s a painting of two very different creatures existing in the same space, one soft, delicate and beautiful, and the other, cold harsh and brutal. It feels like a good illustration of that balanced relationship between human and computer that we tried to achieve with Clipping.
Clipping makes the most of a minimalist songwriting approach, but there’s also a lot of almost shoegaze- like textures and plenty of hidden elements all across the record. It’s that idea that often goes hand in hand with surrealism, look at a brick wall until you can see an entire universe inside it - hopefully with each listen, you find something new tucked away somewhere.
Which song off the EP would you pick to play to someone who had never heard your music, to make them an instant fan?
W: I reckon Mercury - that one’s been really fun to play live and people seem to respond well to it. I remember we had a lot of fun getting carried away figuring out all the crazy harmonies in the chorus, plus my mum once described it as “very chilled out” which definitely helps!
What’s one line from the EP you find at times could be stuck in your head? Or a line that you come back to?
W: I’m really proud of all the lyrics on Slowly. I’ve been on antidepressants for nearly two years now I think, but this was my first time actually writing about my experience with that in a song. Call me basic but the line “thinking clearly, I don’t wanna die” really sticks with me - it’s a pretty intense thing to put in a bedroom pop song but it’s also brutally honest. A lot of the writing and arranging on Clipping was extremely cathartic for me - if you couldn’t tell hahaha
We are OBSESSED with your cover of the Kate Bush classic, Running Up That Hill. What made you choose this track to cover, and what was that process like recontextualising the track into your own unique sound?
Thank you! It’s really lovely to hear you dig our version of the tune! It’s no secret we both love Kate Bush, like ALOT. This was another lockdown project, but this one was much earlier on. Our friend Ashwin put together a compilation called ‘Peering Out’ for a charity called Shelter. It was a massive collection of covers and originals all from artists in lockdown at the time.
We jumped at the opportunity and, for whatever reason, Kate Bush felt like the way to go. Sun Spot’s music, harmonically at least, usually resolves around a very simple repeating motif, Kate Bush very rarely did the same; so one of my favourite things I remember from creating our version was trying to create chord progressions that still had the same harmonic leanings and emotional impact, without as much complexity.
We also filmed a video for that song during lockdown in our flat. I’d borrowed an old camcorder from my parents and we got to work having never tried anything like that before, which is essentially the Sun Spot mantra in general. It was loads of fun, and it was nice to invite people into our weird little world virtually at a time when we couldn’t see anyone physically.
Bristol has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite local acts we should be listening to and why?
G: There’s so much here in Bris! The music scene is genuinely amazing! A new favourite of mine is the Ishmael Ensemble, I can’t stop listening to their new album Visions Of Light, it’s absolutely wild, I can’t put it down.
There‘s so many more but Dave Huntress, Beheading, Punch On, Kate Stapley, Cruelty, Tamu Massif and Jaimie Cruikshank are all massively worth checking out!
W: George smashed it here but I also really like Garden Party, New Haunts, Toodles & The Hectic Pity, Cosmit and Damefrisør. There’s so many!
Will fans be able to catch you on tour? And what can audiences expect from a Sun Spot live show? Hopefully we’ll see you on Australian stages in the near future!
W: Yes! We’re making plans for early next year that we’re looking forward to sharing but a few one-offs in the meantime; we’re putting on a charity show this Halloween for Caring in Bristol alongside our pals Toodles & The Hectic Pity and Adoring. We’re also playing with Black Marble at Moles in Bath on November 5th and then we have our record release show in Bristol on November 21st with a band from Manchester called Sorebae. More on that soon.
We try to make our live shows as fun and as energetic as we can - it’s mostly down to the two legends we play with live; Scoops and Kris help elevate those songs to something else. I’m also there to chat shit and occasionally make jokes about Takeshi’s Castle - so if we ever make it over to Australia, I’m sorry in advance.
G: It’s gotta be The Japanese House, her music was probably one of my first entrances into proper electronic music back in college and certainly one of the main things that made me desperate to get behind a laptop and try to figure that stuff out for myself.
G: The Marias, this ones purely selfish, I just wanna be in a room with them so I can try my best to understand how they write such incredible pop songs with so much beauty and skill.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
G: Gist Is by Adult Jazz, it blew me away the first time I heard it, and still does, I should stop now or I’ll write a full blown essay about how its the greatest thing ever!
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
G: Crying and dancing...
Best song of 2021 so far?
G: My answer changes almost every week, but this week its Boghz by King Woman, their new album is brilliant
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
W: The Room.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
W: Milers for sure. I want the best of both worlds.
What was the first song you loved to sing?
W: My dad always used to play me Blondie when I was a kid - so it was probably something like Atomic.
A song you would love to cover on tour?
W: Fireflies by Owl City. Easy.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
W: Pinback - Summer in Abaddon
First concert you went to?
G: Red Hot Chili Peppers with my parents and sister at Hyde Park, I was too young to get in by a year or two, but no one asked how old I was, which was great!
Best concert you have been to?
G: Porches at Rough Trade Bristol was pretty amazing! We hadn’t moved up here yet, so everything was very exciting and fresh. The band killed it of course!
First album you ever bought?
W: Weezer’s Blue album!
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?
W: Tough decision. I reckon I’d make a great Spice Girl, though.
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
W: Stinky Spice. No brainer.
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
W: This summer we played Inglefest - it was our first show back and our first full band show in nearly a year.
Guilty music pleasure?
W: Kris and I have been seshing early Blink-182 to keep us awake on long drives recently… I don’t know whether he’d want me admitting that, though hahaha
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
W: From Indian Lakes or Porches!
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
W: T-Pain. I’m a strong defendant of using Autotune as an effect and recently saw a documentary about him and the stigma around it. So good. Massive legend.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
W: Be kind to yourself.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
W: I’d always really loved the idea of being in a band but had no idea how to play anything. I think someone told me that bass was pretty easy to get into and they weren’t wrong. Been a four string king ever since. We love to see it.
Clipping is out now!