Ineffably haunting multi-instrumentalist Sondra Sun-Odeon recently took a step away from her duties of being one-half of NYC psych-rockers Silver Summit and into a spotlight of her own. She released her solo debut, Aetherea, last week. The album has the singer/songwriter displaying a far more intimate side of her artistry. The album was recorded throughout the better part of 2011 and features a number of Sun-Odeon’s most notable musician friends, including Philthy’s own Helena Espvall of Espers. I recently chatted with her about the process of writing and recording the album and also a number of projects she has planned for the future.
Izzy Cihak: So your solo debut dropped last week. What can fans of Silver Summit expect of this project?
Sondra Sun-Odeon: They can expect a similar introspective mood and voices, as some of these songs were written around the same time as the Silver Summit self-titled album. My solo album has more traditional instrumentation and is a bit more intimate. Lyrically, the themes are also similar–death, being between realms, living truly and loving truly—though perhaps the perspective is more personal, rather than removed, or conceptual. Definitely expect some really excellent and more elaborate string arrangements.
IC: What were the album’s biggest inspirations, whether musical or otherwise?
SSO: A lot of big loves were inspirations… separations from people, whether through death or distance, or other circumstances. I’m a great admirer of Robbie Basho and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
IC: Can fans outside of NYC expect a chance to catch the live experience of your new material?
SSO: Hopefully yes. I’m working on it, but very slowly. Hoping to tour Europe in early 2013 and the states later. If anyone wants to help me, maybe it can be sooner :).
IC: Are you planning on more solo work? Are other projects in the works?
SSO: I am realigning my work life so that I can devote more time to music and writing. I’m working on a collection of poems I hope to publish in 2013. There are a few new songs that I do live that I’ve been waiting to record, so that will likely happen next year also. Then, of course, there’s touring. But, I’m actually more interested in recording than playing at the moment, as these last two years have given me a lot to write about.
IC: This is a Philadelphia-based publication and you’ve spent a lot of time here, recording and collaborating with local musicians. What are your thoughts on the city? In your mind, how does its music scene compare to that of New York?
SSO: I used to live in Philly, briefly, and I liked it a lot, back then. That was in the 90s. There were a lot of drugs, things were much rougher around the edges. I used to sneak into bars and hide in the bathroom until shows started so I could see bands I was into. I feel like I grew up there and get very nostalgic when I’m there… Well, I can’t speak to the Philly music scene as I’m not really a part of it, but I do admire the close-knit scene centered around the Espers compound, whose musicians I had the privilege to work with. Philly felt much smaller and more close-knit that NYC but, honestly, I don’t think I’m qualified to make comparisons when I don’t really “make the scene” here in NYC either. I feel like a weird hermit who makes occasional music, studies yoga, and writes a lot.