Sunmonks to Release Debut EP In A Desert of Plenty out October 28, 2014 on Crossbill Records!
Sunmonks is a band based in the foothills of Northern California, in the outskirts of Auburn, a gold rush era mining town that’s now home in equal measures to survivalists, pot growers, and suburb dwellers. Vocalists Geoffrey CK and Alexandra Steele met in 2005, but didn’t start the band until 2012 which gave them plenty of time to develop a fervid music philosophy and aesthetic.
“We’re musical gluttons who love all kinds of music from all over the world and from all different eras,” says Geoffrey. “A short list of influences would include really old popular vocal stuff like Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Les Paul and Mary Ford and other early recordings of vocal jazz and popular songs.” Geoffrey continues, “we listen to a lot of the R&B, funk and afro-beat of the ’60s and ’70s, as well as other great artists from the era such as David Bowie and Roxy Music.” In addition to the long list of genre spanning classics, Geoffrey also cites contemporary favorites like St. Vincent, Tune-Yards, James Blake, and Kendrick Lamar on the list of influences.
Initially the band was composed of just the two of them using a loop pedal to flesh out the arrangements of Geoffrey’s songs that saw him playing guitar, keys, bass, percussion and trumpet. “We use the kinds of instruments that one would expect a pop or rock group to have around (horns, saxophones, guitars, drums, loops, samples, bass guitars, synths, keyboards), but we try to use them in novel ways.” explains Geoffrey. “This mindset helps to serve in creating details and subtleties within the music without necessarily seeming overly technical or distracting focus from the vocals.”
Growing up in the foothills devoid of much of a scene, the LPs in their parents’ console stereos formed their initial influences: Wings, Talking Heads, Nat King Cole, Earth Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, Elton John and The Eurhythmics were early musical touchstones.
In 2013 Julian Loy and Dave Middleton joined the Sunmonks on drums and bass respectively and the looping pedal was retired. Their first EP, In a Desert of Plenty, finds the 4-piece band finding their own footing with a quirky blend of melodic pop and classic R&B which is freely reminiscent of a time when horn sections were more prevalent than computers. The band is currently working on a full-length album to be released in 2015.