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Interviews
Getting to Know  Sunn m’Cheaux

Getting to Know Sunn m’Cheaux

Susan Underwood-Island Stage

Island Stage has been following this artist for the past 5 years or so, and we were delighted to catch up with him for a conversation! If you have not yet met Sunn, read the interview, watch the music videos, and then go and get the Music!! You will be happy you did!!

Sunn has 5 released albums-Sassafrass,After Dark, Dreams Deferred, Good Morning Stranger and The Price of Tea In China and he is currently working on new projects-Beast of Burden Blues, Dirt Road Politics & Venus In Retrograde (ooohhh we can’t wait!!!) Enjoy Getting to know Sunn m’Cheaux……

Sunn Is Shining!!

Susan-
Greetings Sunn! So nice to finally catch up with you for a chat! How have you been? what’s been going on with you lately?

Sunn-
Peace… Just living and loving life, as always. Took some time away from the grind to reconnect with close family and friends. I’m a bit of a recluse, so it’s important for me to make a conscious effort to step outside my own personal space and be sure my inner circle is taken care. And now, it’s back to the grind… I’m restless.

Susan-
Being that you were born and raised in ‘Low Country’ South Carolina, tell me how you came to have such a deep Jamaican influence in your music.

Sunn-
I am an islander, just not a ‘bawn yardee’… I’m a Gullah/Geechee bwoy. Most people abroad aren’t very familiar with Gullah people or our language, mainly because there wasn’t a Gullah version of Bob Marley or reggae music to serve as ambassadors of our culture to the world. My upbringing and environment on the coast was very similar to my Jamaican kin. Even the cadence and vernacular are very similar between Gullah and Jamaican patois. Which is no coincidence, considering Gullahs and Caribbeans share a common ancestry and history. We don’t just sound like one another; in essence, we are one another. Though, I would be remiss to not mention the direct influence Jamaican artists had on me growing up by way of the great ‘Mr Reggae’ Osei Chandler’s ‘Roots Musik Karamu’ radio show. The night he played a couple cuts from my album After Dark was dream come true… literally. I’d always dreamed about him spinning my tunes! Nuff love and respect to him for his influence and acknowledgement.

Go here to learn more about Gullah Culture/History
Go to Wiki to learn more

Susan-
You describe yourself as a “fiercely independent troubadour” and I cannot say that I disagree with this description of you!! Talk to me about why you dub yourself this way.

Sunn-
I dig that term because a troubadour isn’t just someone who does art; they live it, they embody it. It’s not just their passion, it’s their personality trait. I grew up admiring real-live men like that in my family and neighborhood. They taught me early on, the difference between just being artistic vs being an artist. Some call it ‘swag’… I prefer ‘panache.’

Good Morning Stranger

Good Morning Stranger


Susan-
Listening to your music is an experience in my opinion. I am reminded of artists such as Ben Harper, Prince, Lil Wayne, Cat Stevens just to name a few! You are clearly very versatile in your genre span and I love this about you! Do you ever find though, in the industry, that not “leaning” or “sticking” to one sound or genre has made things difficult?

Sunn-
Nuff respect. Absolutely. It’s not just the industry, though. I’ve found that fans generally prefer artists to stay with whatever made them a fan in the first place. It’s often an artist’s growth vs their fans’ nostalgia. Prince fans hated him rappin’ and Lil Wayne caught flack for his rock album. Being an eclectic artist may gain critical acclaim and/or a niche–i.e. small–loyal fan base, but mainstream prefers familiarity. I don’t make a conscious effort to be eclectic, though. I just manifest whatever comes to me and let whomever else sort it out for themselves.

Susan-
Let’s talk about “Sanctified” Wow! I think that someone who is very relevant today.. I won’t call any names “Frank Ocean” shhhhhhh!! saw and heard this and, well? Let’s just say got a few ideas for a song and video.. uhhh ummmmm “Pyramid” …This is just me talking so if he sees this he can come talk to me hahaha!! What inspired the song and video treatment?

Sunn-
(laughter) Yeah, when I saw his video, my first impression was, “Hmm… Interesting.” (more laughter) The video was essentially a metaphor for going nowhere fast, on a journey that ends without having found what you’re looking for. This is why the final shot is me exasperated under an ‘End’ sign where the road stops in the middle of nowhere, leaving me at a crossroad of sorts: either keep forging ahead in the rough terrain or turn back and travel the paved path of least resistance that I tried to free myself from in the first place. That’s basically the way I felt about the situation I was in when I wrote the song, “Sanctified.”

Susan-
Who is MiNG72?

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Sunn-
Rudey! (laughter) He’s an amalgam of myself and homies I grew up with, many of whom are now either dead or in prison. Basically, I got to a point where I overcame the immediate circumstances of the past that inspired most of my rap material… but once an emcee, always an emcee. He’s not an alter-ego, though. ‘Sunn’ and ‘MiNG72’ are one and the same. I just use different monikers with respect to their different styles. An unsuspecting listener could get whiplash switching from ‘Good Morning, Stranger’ [Sunn] to ‘Dreams Deferred’ [MiNG72].

Susan-
“It Serves Me Right to Suffer” Deep song!! Can you let us in on what inspired this tune?

Sunn-
Depression and suicide aren’t typical topics in “urban” music. I wrote the song during a personal catharsis, but I felt like clinical depression and suicide were issues that needed to be addressed. African-Americans are particularly reluctant to deal with emotional and mental health. I wanted to challenge that taboo, leading by example. Still, it’s not just a Black thing. I want anyone from any background who can relate to it to be inspired to talk about it and hopefully get help.

Susan-
“Drug of Choice” from the After Dark EP… Now that is a sexy song, and the video is HOT too!! Do you have someone special, a “drug of choice” in your life? Do tell! All the ladies wanna know!!

Sunn-
Funny thing about ‘Drug of Choice’ is my favorite part of the song is the intro, where I say that I don’t drink, smoke or get high. Even more than making ladies swoon, I wanted to represent that those vices weren’t necessary to be cool, charismatic, romantic or whatever else people — especially kids — feel peer pressured to do to fit in or have fun. Not side-stepping the question about a special someone, but that message meant and means more to me than being sexy. As for whomever I’m doing whatever with in private, a gentleman never tells. (smile)
Susan-

Respect!!!!

Susan-
“Gabriel” (Perfect Boy)….. I am almost speechless after hearing this song. It touched me deeply.. Tell me what inspired this song.

Sunn-
A close friend of mine was having a really tough moment with her young autistic son and she called to confide in me about it. In that moment, I just wanted to lift her spirits and show him some love, too. The song was more of a deeply personal sentiment than a public statement, but, it took on a life of it’s own with other parents of autistic children. That was unexpected, but I’m humbled and grateful that it connected with other people living with autism, as well.

Susan-
You are a self taught musician, and could play over 20 instruments by the time you were 17! Wow!! Where did you get your musical abilities? Who inspired you as a youth and who are your inspired by now?

Sunn-
I have no recollection of not being musical. Even as a toddler in church, I’d pretend to play the organ on the wooden slats in my seat. My older brother was a multi-instrumentalist. He was my first musical influence. Other than sneaking a few minutes on church instruments after service or in department store music sections with my parents, my big brother’s instruments were what I first practiced on–unbeknownst to him. I don’t master any instrument, though. Virtuosity was never my goal. I just wanted to be able to share the music I heard in my head. As long as I can do that, I’m good.

Susan-
There are not many artists of your caliber out there who interact the way you do with your fans. You have even said that you consider your fans, your friends. What makes you different from other artists who may not converse with their fans? What do you get out of it?

Sunn-
I’ve always been conversational. I just transferred that over to social networking. My Facebook wall is especially bananas! Still, I’m launching an autonomous blog soon to be able to stay connected with people without having to fret about privacy settings, apps, and trolls. Most people expect conversing with me to be like pulling teeth, but in no time at all we’re talking like old friends or enemies. (laughter) For better or worse artists have to be willing and able to really make the most of social networking to stay relevant without being artistically over-exposed.

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Susan-
You consider yourself to be a modern renaissance man. Can you elaborate?

Sunn-
By definition, a renaissance man is a man “whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas.” For me, it is not only being proficient at many things, but also being open to many different perspectives… being open to exploring the full circumference of life and sharing the best that I have to offer with whomever’s down to receive and reciprocate that energy. I know it might sound a little cosmic, but I think living well begins with being well.

Susan-
I love your personal credo:

“If you Love it, Live it”

You come across as living up to that credo!! What’s next for you? Tease us……!!

Sunn-
More! More music, movies, muses, motivation… more LOVE.”

Link up with Sunn m’Cheaux and go get the Music!! One Love!

Purchase

The Price of Tea in China:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/Sunn

Ming72 featuring Sunn http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/ming72

Ming72 featuring Sunn
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/ming72

Good Morning Stranger http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/Sunn1

Good Morning Stranger
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/Sunn1

Link with Sunn on Facebook

Sunn’s Twitter

Follow Island Stage on Twitter

Comments
  1. Stephanie

    7 years ago

    Wonderful interview.

  2. SunChon

    7 years ago

    Outstanding.♥

  3. j adams

    7 years ago

    I really enjoyed this interview, this Sunn guy is some kinda special!

  4. j adams

    7 years ago

    I really enjoyed this interview, amazing energy! This ‘Sunn’ guy is some kinda special!

  5. Cynthia

    7 years ago

    Great interview Sunn! Thanks for tagging me…keep it coming!

  6. jade

    7 years ago

    Going back to the myspace days, I had ‘Hello World’ on my profile for like a month. Sunn had me Continuously entertained on his blogs for years and it was refreshing to see an artist engaging the people with no ego intact. It is awesome to see you continued the tradition on facebook. Great interview Sunn and Susan…continued blessings to both of you!

    psssst Sunn..Drug of choice???!! hehe

  7. Nico

    7 years ago

    Great interview Susan! Sunn is the real deal. It’s great to know that there are independent musicians who stick to their dream and continue to use their gift to make positive tings happen! BTW, I really enjoyed TAKE IT EASY! What an IRIE track!

  8. Robin B.

    7 years ago

    Wow! I didn’t know you were so talented!

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