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WITF Music: Sun Not Yellow

Building things up and breaking them down.

  • Joe Ulrich
Sun Not Yellow performs for WITF Music on Jan. 11, 2024 Jeremy Long - WITF

 Jeremy Long / WITF

Sun Not Yellow performs for WITF Music on Jan. 11, 2024 Jeremy Long - WITF

In 2022, Sun Not Yellow released their latest album A Hip New Hell. Singer Jesse Barki, drummer Cory Paternoster and bassist Caden Myers joined us in the WITF Music studio to play two songs from the album and talked about leaving space in the music, self-control and musical maturity. We began by talking about how they were experimenting with adding more sounds in their latest album.

Listen to the radio feature:

Joe: A Hip New Hell you said was your pandemic record. Can you talk a little bit about the genesis of that album?

Cory: I think we actually had that name and then when we started writing, we’re like, all right, this is going to be the album name. So let’s try to capture some songs that represent that.

Jesse:  And some of the concepts that we came up with were like a hip new hell. It’s like a lot of things we do today, in past generations where things that you’d go to hell for, but it’s so much more loose these days. And we know so much more that it’s not as simple as like banishing someone to hell in the afterlife. 

So we just tried to pick different topics and poke a little fun at it and be like, our society is what it is today and don’t be so stuck in your ways. Continue to be open minded as you get older, [that’s] something I was trying to keep in mind.

“Body Language” is about communication today and how hard it is and how easy it is to take things out of context. Like text messages, when you’re texting someone who texts with a period at the end, it’s like, are they mad at me? “Body Language” is about that kind of stuff. Trying to talk about your political views today is like walking on eggshells sometimes, so trying to work past that is what “Body Language” was about.

Joe Ulrich: We were talking about synths and [how] you were kind of filling space, but then we were also talking about not filling it up. What’s the appeal of stripping it down?

Cory: The two things that we said from the beginning was we wanted to tour as much as we could, and we wanted to push ourselves musically.

And I think that A Hip New Hell is a really good example of that, where we were like, all right, we have these songs, where could we put a synth pad or a keyboard part or some really weird sounding instrument in general.

Jesse: With the stuff we’ve been writing more recently, I personally want our records to feel more like what we are live, which is very much a three piece. So I’m excited to really play into the negative space, the reverbs of rooms and stuff like that, that will become instruments on top of drums, bass and guitar, instead of trying to fill that negative space. Just like really encapsulate the space a little bit more and capture the time that we are recording.

Caden: When we lost that fourth person, it made me realize what I need to play, like just me and the kick drum, just driving it. That’s what makes the song good.

Joe: Was that difficult to pare back in some ways?

Caden: I think it’s extremely difficult to practice self control as a musician.

Jesse: I feel in control when I’m not playing. I think there was an insecurity before where I felt like I should be filling space. It’s empowering I would say.


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