I would characterize Steady Sun’s music as psychedelic, folky, jazzy, baroque pop. Though Dylan Nowik, Steady Sun’s front man, prefers to describe his band’s sound simply as “jive daydream.” What The Sound had the opportunity to sit down with Dylan in a $5 pizza and pint parlor in Williamsburg to talk about the new LP, the band’s short-term and long-term goals, and much more! Steady Sun plans to release Flora, their 2nd full-length LP, by the end of this year. Two of the eleven tracks, "Lover Knows" and "Irises," are already available for your listening pleasure. You can check out WTS’s interview with Steady Sun’s Dylan Nowik and links to their music below!
What The Sound: How was Steady Sun formed?
Steady Sun: SS was formed by me [Dylan] in 2011, I knew i was ready to have a musical project that i wanted to put a name on. I released and recorded a collection of 5 songs, called the Steady Sun EP and I did it all by myself, kind of as a jumping off point in order to recruit other members, to have something to show them. Then I reached out to a few friends that I met my freshman year at NYU, some of which who I played in a jazz hip-hop band with, earlier. It was a fun time while it lasted, but it kind of dissolved and I was ready to pursue the music that I was actually interested in. So, that was the roots of Steady Sun’s formation.
WTS: Where did the name "Steady Sun" come from?
SS: I wanted a name that sounded evocotive of our sound. I had a few parameters that I was using as a jumping off point, I thought alleteration was cool. I thought that the word “sun” was this universal thing that I liked and didn’t have a problem with. Then found an “S” word adjective, and felt like it was fitting.
WTS: And how many members are there currently in your band?
SS: Currently there are five members in Steady Sun. We have two guitarists, myself being one of them. A bassist, a keyboardist, and a drummer. Three of us sing.
WTS: As a quintet, how did you all meet?
ss: I met Danny, my bassist, Misha, my former keyboard player, and Andrew, my drummer, they were all NYU members. MIsha, our keyboardist, later went on to do his own thing. But Caleb, was the frontman of that jazz hip hop band, The Loot, ended up becoming our new keyboard player. Then my friend Pete, who I grew up with my entire life, I knew him since 1st grade and then went on to NYU with me ended up becoming our guitarist in the last year.
WTS: What's the songwriting process like? Is it mutually distributed?
SS: I would definitely say that I am the main songwriter. I’ve written every song that Steady Sun has put out with the exception of “Garden Path Song” which was written by our former violinist, Audrey, who is no longer playing with us but she’s got an awesome other project called Lightning Bug. As for songwriting process, the lyrics are always the final thought. It usually either starts with a chord progression, a particular rhythm that I’m going for. Then the rest of the song takes shape around the seed of that idea. I try to sing about whatever the musical component sounds like in my head.
WTS: I'm a fan of all the genres you listed on your Bandcamp, including "Jive Daydream", how did you come up with that?
SS: I thought that was really funny, and wrote it as a joke. Then again, I thought it would be cool to make music that sounds like Jive Daydream music.
WTS: You already touched on it a bit, but were there any notable projects from you or any of the other band members prior to the formation of Steady Sun?
SS: I mentioned that 3 of the still existing members were in a jazz hip hop band a while ago. My drummer, Andrew, was in a really cool band called Sweet Boys, and they released a really cool album called Foible Pangs. Really awesome, check it out. My previous violinist went on to form Lightning Bug, which whom I played drums in for about a month or so. My drummer currently is in a different band called Friend, which is really cool, really experimental stuff. My guitarist, Pete, is in this group called Breanna Barbara. She’s actually the front woman of this group, and they just released an album produced by this guy Andrija, who produced Alabama Shakes’ Boys & Girls album. So yeah, there are lots of projects surrounding the members of Steady Sun.
WTS: How many instruments can you play?
SS: I’d say if I have a single hobby in life, it’d be to learn new instruments. My best instruments are the drums, bass, guitar, keyboards. But I play some weird stuff, a little accordion, and a little mandellin. I used to play saxophone and violin. I do a lot of composing work for films, so I try to use whatever the director is looking for.
WTS: "Lover Knows" had me in awe, I'm so excited to hear the rest of the album. I think everyone else is as well. The track reminded me a lot like Jacco Gardner or Foxygen. Is that the vibe you were looking to get out of it?
SS: I love Foxygen, and I think in some way, they’ve been somewhat of an influence on this album. Jacco Gardner, I’m familiar with but don’t know too well. I think marrying old sounds with new sounds is really great. I love late ‘60’s psychedelia, but at the same time, I don’t really want to be a pastiche. I like the idea of making something new. I think weirdness is awesome. I don’t want to make weird stuff for weirdness sake, but I’d like to make weirdness for awesomeness sake. I think that’s something to aspire for. I love old sounds and try to incorporate that.
WTS: What are your thoughts on Temples and Tame Impala?
SS: I’ve heard a little bit of Temples, I’ve heard a few songs that are kind of cool, they definitely have that throwbacky thing which is cool. Tame Impala is one of my favorite bands. I really respect Kevin Parker, I feel like he’s one of the best modern musicians out there right now.
WTS: Your new album, Flora, which will be released later this summer, where was it recorded? Was it recorded in any unique spot?
SS: Yes it was. It was recorded about two hours north of New York City, in my hometown of Rhinebeck, NY. Over the past couple of years, my bassist has built a gorgeous recording studio with all the wonderful recording gear that I could ever want. But, we took all that gear in a U-Haul, took it two hours upstate, and for two weeks last summer, day in and day out, all hours of the day and night, recorded this album. It was really nice departing New York, the place where I’ve come to live, and reverting back into a quieter, more pastoral place to record this album. I think in some ways, that influenced it.
WTS: Reminds me of Frank, the film.
SS: It’s kind of a cliche I know, but it’s a great feeling to be removed from your daily obligations, put in a pretty place, and have nothing to do other than to make your music.
WTS: You say your songwriting comes after the instrumental component of the songs. Do your influences at all switch between the instrumental and lyrical part?
SS: Probably in some way. For instance, I mentioned that I was really into Tame Impala. I can’t say that they’re lyrics are the thing that really moved me about their music. Where as there’s a band like The Shins, who I was super into growing up in middle school and onward. I still really respect them. I can’t say that they’re a huge musical influence anymore, but I think James Mercer’s lyricism is some of the best out there.
WTS: You were saying that you couldn't really put a band to a genre, but if you were to characterize Steady Sun...
SS: We don’t write out music with the effort of it being classified into a particular genre. That being said, I’m not ready to be the guy that says our music is genreless. I think that psychedelic rock of the ‘70’s and ‘60’s has made it in. I think baroque pop is really cool. Definitely a little bit of soul has made it into our music. I got really into Fela Kuti in the last year, maybe towards the tail end of writing this album. So, I don’t know how much anyone would pick up on an afrobeat in the album. But from afrobeat to bossanova to soul, those are sprinklings. Then I think there is definitely a psychedelic rock influence, that someone may say. Let’s just go with “jive daydream”.
WTS: You mentioned that The Shins were a favorite band of yours from middle school, onward. How about growing up, in your parent's car, cassette tapes. What music were you exposed to constantly at a young age?
SS: I remember that every summer vacation, my parents would play Hell Freezes Over by The Eagles and Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette. Not ready to say that those were at all, in any way, influences, but my dad was a huge Beatles fan and that’s certainly made it’s way in. My parents were really into the Talking Heads, and I think they’re really cool still. David Bowie was another cool one that my Dad was into. They probably all permeated in one way or another.
WTS: Have you ever been on tour?
SS: Yeah! We went on a little tour of the Northeast two summers ago. We toured with another group called Sun Boom who are no longer making music, but they have an album out which I actually mixed. It was bar gigs, we had a few packed houses that were really exciting surprises. There was also a lot of sleeping in national and state parks. My car broke down two hours out of Boston which is like the biggest touring band stereotype. But, I can check that off my list now.
WTS: Is a tour going to be planned around the release of Flora?
SS: It’s kind of to be seen. It’s time and money, but if there’s a demand for it, if there are people in other areas than New York who seem receptive to it, I’d love to travel around and play for them. That’s what I would like to do more than anything.
WTS: What does Flora mean to you?
SS: The album name came from a lyric that was kind of talking about reincarnation, in a sort of scientific sense, you know, people die and decompose and then become the flora growing. Sort of Lion King, Circle of Life thing. I looked into the word, I thought it was a beautiful word, it sounded like a woman’s name. I also learned during my looking into the word, that it’s also the goddess of fertility. and i just thought that it seemed like a pretty succinct word, that was deserving of being an album name.
WTS: Is there any band in mind that you would love to accompany on tour? Anyone in particular that you would love to open for?
SS: I would love to open for a band such as Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Foxygen, Tame Impala. You know, a lot of those guys, I would love to someday share a bill with. If you guys ever hear this, I mean it.
WTS: What are some albums that you are currently listening to that you think we should be listening to?
3. Joao Giberto’s first album
4. Fela Kuti (anything by him, anything at all)
WTS: Do you have any huge aspirations, where do you hope to see your music take you?
SS: I think my big dreams are very straightforward. I would love to support myself by playing music for the rest of my life. I would also like to travel around the world doing it. I hope that my music also makes people feel good, or at least feel something.