sunbeam sound machine
Words by Hosna
After attending the Bon Iver listening party in Fitzory, I went to watch Sunbeam Sound Machine at the John Curtain hotel in Carlton, to continue on with the soft and whimsical sensitivities in music.
Nick Sowersby, the man behind the Sunbeam Sound Machine project perfectly nails the relationship between groovy upbeat sounds and delicate vocals to enchant you. He is a multi-instrumentalist who curates layers of ethereal fuzz and sounds from his bedroom located in Collingwood. Perhaps it is Melbourne's dynamic environment that inspires Nick, he likes to thank creators such as Solange who also is a master in tuning the delicacy of music. Since 2013 Sowersby has released music that you can play on a sunny afternoon or during dusk, on an empty highway drive, and every time feel equally elated.
His debut album Wonderer is a harmonious and cohesive playlist that speaks of personal endeavours, as well as the weirdly wonderful world around us. Even the track list alludes a celestial impression before you press play, for example 'Wandering.' 'Autumunal' or 'Fever dream.' The overlaying of various vocals juxtaposed with unusual but relaxed sounds in the background makes for a calming listening experience but triggers a visceral visual experience. Although the music reminds you of an intangible sensation, simultaneously it is really that universal feeling of escapism and wandering, or a feverish dream. He is a narrator and creator at the same time, where the listeners do not feel alone or isolated but are invited to share their moments of solitude in an illusory setting.
Describe your aesthetic in 3 words?
Whatever feels right.
How’d you get into music? What made you realise the significant of music?
I was always encouraged to play and listen to music, I guess it was probably in through my teens that it took on a bigger and bigger significance. In my late teens and early 20s I really got into writing and recording music and it started taking up most of my spare time.
What is your production/writing process?
I try not to do things the same way all the time, but usually my production and writing and recording has all taken place at the same time. I’ve tended to write the song by recording it if that makes sense, but I’m trying to do things differently now and demo an idea and sit on it for a while and make changes to it over time.
A lot of your songs are about love, dreaming or waiting and longing for someone, would you say there’s a lot of personal ties? Or is it more about general human emotions that are universal?
I think I’m probably going for something universal, even if it’s inspired by something personal. I try to keep lyric writing kind of subconscious but it always ends up being a mix of general and personal. I like to try and capture a feeling in a song more than tell a linear narrative.
At times theres almost moments that remind me of summer in the late 80s or 90s (not that I was alive) but do you draw any influences from there?
I think a lot of the lyrics have a sort of childlike feeling to them and summer in the 90s makes up some of my strongest childhood memories. I wouldn’t say it’s something I’m aiming for necessarily, but it’s probably in there somewhere.
Biggest music inspirations?
There’s too many to name in general so i’ll just say lately I’m inspired by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Solange, John Luther Adams, and Mark Hollis
The best gig you have been to?
Grizzly Bear at The Palais, The Specials at Splendour In The Grass, The Saints at The Forum, Boomgates on The Evelyn rooftop and a bunch of others.
Are you working on new music for 2017?
I'm working on a second album which I am very hopeful to put out this year!
What is your favourite driving music?
Before Hollywood by The Go-Betweens, Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear, Black Up by Shabazz Palaces and the cricket.
What was the first film you saw at the cinema?
The first one I remember seeing at the movies was The Mask. At the time I thought it was the funniest thing in the whole world but I saw it on TV not long ago and unfortunately it doesn’t hold up that well.
Do you untie your shoes before taking them off?
I’ve learnt the hard way that you’ve just gotta. Look after your shoes, kids.