We chat with Sunny War
Described on her website as “folk-punk”, Sunny War’s new album isn’t pigeon-holed quite so easily. Covering soul, funk, and tones of jazz, as well as folk, I asked Sunny a few questions about Simple Syrup and how her last 12 months has been.
Hey Sunny, how’s your day so far?
Hello! It is 9:30am as I type and things are going good so far.
Where are you right now?
I am home in Los Angeles right now.
Tell us something about you that we won’t know.
I am pretty good at cooking and hope to have my own catering company one day.
You’ve just released Simple Syrup, how would you sum up the album in a couple of sentences?
I would say it is light but experimental. It’s not committed to one style of music.
It’s got a relaxed vibe to it, but some of the songs don’t seem as chilled out lyrically. What was your overall ambition for the album?
I am not sure. I felt like it was all over the place long before it was released. There wasn’t much of a plan with this album as far as keeping the mood consistent musically/lyrically.
Your producer said you’re like Thelonius Monk, that’s quite a comparison, how does that make you feel?
That is very flattering.
One of my favourite songs is ‘Love Is A Pest’, what’s that song about?
That song is about how it feels when you’re very independent and fall in love. When someone forces their way into your heart and you have to surrender. In my mind I picture the song as a number in a very colorful musical.
I really like ‘Kiss A Loser’ as well, what can you tell me about that song?
I wrote ‘Kiss A Loser’ when I was drunk one night after arguing with my boyfriend. I was too drunk to win the argument but recorded a slurred version of the song on my phone (voice memo). The next day I listened to it and was like… hmm… I kinda like this.
What can you tell me about the studio experience of making Simple Syrup?
It was a lot of fun. With other albums (With the Sun, Shell of a Girl) it was mostly me and Harlan recording one part at a time. But with this album we played a lot of songs live as a trio (bassist Aroyn Davis and drummer Paul Allen). It was the first time I ever recorded with a live band and I think it made the songs come out a lot cooler. Like for example ‘Mama’s Milk’, we ended up playing that song way faster than I originally planned. There were lots of other happy mistakes like that.
You’re quite the chameleon, using a variety of styles, how would you describe your music?
I would just call it folk at this point. I think a lot of genres fall under the folk umbrella.
Last time I spoke to you you said “I get treated like shit daily in everyday life. Being a black woman is exhausting” has anything changed for you on that front?
Not really. I still get treated like a thief in all the local stores in my neighborhood that I go to frequently. I still deal with a lot of microaggressions every time I leave my apartment. It’s still exhausting.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you personally over the last 12 months?
COVID-19 and the new anxiety attacks I’ve been having. I never had these panic attacks before COVID. I have been trying to learn how to get them under control. They are very scary and I always think I’m gonna die. So that has been a new challenge lately.
And what’s the thing that’s made you happiest?
I think Simple Syrup finally being released has been the highlight. I can finally move on and write some new stuff now.
What can you tell me about Food Not Bombs?
I started the DTLA Food Not Bombs chapter in 2020. We serve 100 vegan meals in Skid Row every Wednesday. It’s been hard at times but we have a pretty good system now and a lot of great volunteers. We’ve had benefit shows, food drives and different fundraisers to keep our chapter going. One of our members teaches Yoga classes every week where participants donate what they can to our chapter. Anyone interested in volunteering with us can hit us up on Instagram.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
I’m really digging Sudan Archives lately, so I’d recommend checking her out.
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
I’m currently on a no sugar diet…. so I drink it with cream and monk fruit.
Simple Syrup is out now and available to stream on Tidal, Spotify, and Apple Music. Or available to buy on Bandcamp.