A sharp collaboration fusing disparate talents into a music whole, Sun Shakers are a mixed-genre outfit that forge a sound they call ‘Psychedelic Soul’.
With twin EPS behind them so far, they’ve already shown substantial artistic development, with songwriting changes contributed to by the developing band, each of whom is outlined in detail below.
As frontwoman Davina Brady tells me, their aims are broad and ambitious, and their hopes born more in the love of what they’re doing than any great dreams of success. Here’s what they told me ahead of the launch of ‘Back To Us’…
You describe your music as ‘psychedelic soul’. Tell me what new listeners should expect…
Psychedelic soul put simply is music working on behalf of peace and love! We describe psychedelic soul as music based on the ethos of soul music which combines a mix of genres such as rock, funk, jazz, folk and elements of old-skool hip hop. Colourful music, we aim to make each track a little bit dreamy and otherworldly through melody and arrangement.
Can you tell me the backgrounds of the various members of your band?
As a four-piece we have all come from very different places. Conall Heffernan, our Drummer is from Bray, Co. Wicklow. A curious mind, Conall has a love of travel and being culture shocked! Conall is a fluent Irish speaker and has a passion for language. The most recent language he has attempted is Russian. Conall currently works in management in a Tech firm and even with such a high-pressure job; band practice is a very important part of his week. A programmer by trade, Conall is the most sociable tech person you will ever meet. A warm heart and a wonderful calming nature, Conall is the Zen of this band.
TJ Screene, our bassist, is from London, England but if you asked him where he was from, Ireland would be the answer. More Irish than most, TJ has lived in Dublin half of his life and has family connections to Tipperary and Galway. A mosaic artist and builder extraordinaire TJ has worked in the construction field for years. In the last few years though he has swapped
his tools for bass guitars and now it is more common to see him playing than building. TJ’s big loves in this world are his 2 dogs, Toby and Oscar. He is one of those people who are welcoming and open to everyone and every species and when you get to experience his hospitality, you take a little bit of it home with you in your heart.
Aidan Mulloy, our guitarist and songwriter, is from Blackrock, Co Dublin. Brought up on the seafront, Aidan carries this calm with him wherever he goes. If you knew Aidan, you would think he was born with a guitar in his hand. When he plays it, he literally becomes it. As a character, Aidan has an analytic mind. A critical thinker, he studied the social sciences for some time and while this has not been his vocation, he has taken what he has learned and brought it with him. Aidan is also a budding entrepreneur and runs a mobile music teaching business. In any one day, he could cycle 30kms getting from lesson to lesson. This shows his character and this hard-working nature shines through in everything he does.
Davina Brady, our singer and songwriter, is from a village called Ballygarrett in Co. Wexford. A trained psychotherapist, Davina is one of those people who never stops learning about herself and others and in many ways, this is what drives everything about her. Also a budding entrepreneur, Davina has 2 small businesses. One involves personal development education and the other involves social research. Always learning and never still, Davina is one of those lucky people who believes she can literally do anything. She has no fear whatsoever and this openness to everything spills into her music and out through her mouth. She believes in people and their capability and it is this, which has guided her every move. A peace and love advocate, her music is the place where you will get to know her best.
What are the common themes in your music?
The themes, which run through our tracks, include social questions/ statements, facets of personal growth, a better humanity, and an overall a greater connectedness to each other and the world around us.
How did you develop your sound between your two EPs?
The first EP we released was called The Union. The tracks on this record were all written by Davina. When we first started the band, we worked with the music that was already there and Davina had a large back catalogue of work. Roughly, 3/4 years back Davina and Aidan began to write together. Now at a live show, the majority of the works you hear will be from this joint collaboration.
As Davina and Aidan began to write together, they began to develop a
sound that was unique to them. This was psychedelic soul. The current EP ‘Back to Us’ is the beginning of this journey.
How have you found the Irish music industry since you started out? What are the good and bad sides?
In honesty, the Irish music scene at a grassroots level is wonderful. It is supportive, constructive and progressive. As it starts to extend up the ladder, it becomes a little less pure, for want of a better term, and very competitive.
It is a small market and this will create a cutthroat attitude naturally. It is not easy in Ireland to climb this metaphorical ladder and the cream does not always rise to the top in the way it does in other countries. This is probably the downfall of it.
Like any small community, it can become closed and unless you are within the bounds of this community, it is very hard to progress here. While the scene in Ireland has helped us a lot and we appreciate every gig or opportunity we have ever gotten, the industry on all levels needs to be more open and less dependent upon the voices of a few. I guess this is the same everywhere but by no means does it make it right.
Davina, I understand you had some solo work released before the band started. How does Sun Shaker differ to those times?
The work I have released prior to Sun Shakers was mostly soft soul stuff. The ethos and the backbone of the themes were the same but how the story is told now is different. I am mostly a self-taught musician and with this comes many restrictions when you go to write a song.
Aidan on the other hand, has a lot more musical information than I do and this is the major difference between the two sounds. My own stuff was simple musically. ‘Our’ stuff is more complex musically.
Music streaming seems to be one of those ‘mixed blessings’ for musicians. How have you found it so far?
Streaming has allowed our music to be heard in many countries. While the monetary gain is small, the message is the most important thing so if streaming helps us reach listeners in Mexico, in Africa, in Taiwan, we are OK with that.
The reality is, throughout history, artists made art to make art. No artist in the old times was in any way rich and nor was getting rich a factor in their creation.
I think nowadays some artists have forgotten this and while we all want to get paid for what we do, the making or creating is not the part we need to be paid for. Money is made from performing and I guess artists need to look at streaming in general as a free advertising tool to get people to these performances.
So, to answer the question, streaming has been good to us so far. It has done what it has meant to.
What’s been your favourite moment as a band so far?
Getting to know one another. In April of this year, we are together 6 years. Watching us all grow from year to year as people has been such a pleasure. Each one of us has our own quirks and the more time we have with one another the more these appear. I could tell you about the cool gigs we have played and people we have met but what makes this journey special is the four of us. I could not have asked for a better bunch of people to share music-making with.
So, this sharing of people, of music, of life is what I love and what I will always favour most.
Are you more geared towards live shows or recording?
We have the second part of our album to finish and once this lockdown ends we will get stuck into it. Prior to lockdown, we were also embarking on our second Irish tour but many dates had to be cancelled or postponed. Keep an eye on this space though because what we are gearing up for next will even surprise us!
What are your plans for the future?
When the world becomes worldy again we aim to take our show abroad and to start visiting our fans in the countries where streaming has worked its magic.
We are at a point where we are ready to move to the next stage so the next year will be focused on building the team we need around us to do that.