An Interview with Laura Colwell of Sun June


On tour with friends from Daphne Tunes, Sun June and co. have been packed in a van for the month trekking up the East Coast. While in transit from Carrboro to Richmond, lead singer/songwriter Laura Colwell took some time to chat on the phone with WRGW’s Kate Twomey about alternate dimensions, regret pop, and their sophomore album Somewhere.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

K8: To start, I wanted to talk about Somewhere. Mainly, I was interested in the creative process behind the initial release in 2021 and coming back to it for the extended edition in 2022. With the bonus track, were they added on later or were they cut from that first release?

Laura: Yeah, they were part of an initial pool of songs we were pulling from and for whatever reason they were unfinished or didn’t make the cut. To me, they’re very similar to other songs on the album, sonically. They felt like, for lack of a better term, an expansion of something we had already done with our sound. But, as a songwriter, it’s fun to write songs from a place you’re already comfortable writing from. We thought they might be on the next record, but when talk of an expanded edition came, we already knew exactly what songs we would put on it — there were about three other ones that we debated putting on there as well but they’ll come out eventually. 

K8: It sounds like there might be another album on the way?

Laura: Yeah, we’re working on it now! We have all the songs, but we just have to put them together.

K8: Exciting! Do you feel like the Europe tour cancellation gave you more time to song write or put more care into that project?

Laura: It led to a bit of a relief because I knew how hard it would be if we went. To make the dates work would’ve been a really big nightmare, and it seemed like the chances of getting COVID and getting stuck overseas were just getting higher. In lots of ways, I was bummed but I was also thankful to not be put in a precarious situation. We got more time to hang out at our homes, and everyone benefited to some degree by not having to leave their lives.

K8: Especially now that you guys are going on what seems like a very long tour–

Laura: It is a long tour for sure! I don’t know if we would’ve been able to come out of Europe and straight into this tour. Creatively, I think we were able to work on the next record a little more. At the very least it got more thought as to how we’re gonna do it– not necessarily anything tangible. 

K8: I’m sure it’ll show in some ways, just being in a better headspace like that.

Laura: Yeah, no waking up in a cold sweat thinking “I never did that thing I wish I could’ve done.” Also now being more charged up for this leg of the tour…you know we’ve never played DC! Should be fun, I hope! 

K8: I’m sure it will be! I was reading that you and Stephen founded Sun June while working in film together, and I was wondering if there were any artistic or aesthetic influences behind Somewhere that pull from that area of your life? The music is so visual, it really feels that there’s a whole movie packed into each track.

Laura: I’m glad you picked up on that– we tend to be more visual, or we try to be. We’ve always worked as a five-piece, and this time we went in trying not to overthink each track before we got to the studio. We wanted to piece things together as we went along, and the way we guided the sonics throughout that was through a visual. We decided to go with an alternate universe in Albuquerque at a prom. I don’t know why, but it’s just where we went. It gave the drums more room and boom. Dreamy elements, softer vocals…

K8: The vocals feel like a memory of the future reaching back–

Laura: Yeah, some distance! It’s weird because the vocals are close but soft, less singery and more a narrator recounting a story to you. But it’s still pop, I guess. 

K8: You guys have described your music as “regret pop” in the past, do you feel like that still applies?

Laura: Oh, we love it. It’s nice to have that also as a vision to think about. We’re not gonna stop writing songs like this, so we might as well really roll with that category. 

K8: Like giving a name to a pre-existing sound and emotion instead of trying to restrict your sound into it.

Laura: It helps to pull it out of how you think it might sound and play around with ideas of the type of music you think you’re gonna hear. It gives us more room to play around in the future. We try to keep it wistful, and our lead guitarist Michael Bain is a huge part of that. Just being his buttery, noodly, self.  

K8: We love butter noodle Michael!

Laura: (laughing) He’s shaking his head at us…

K8: So are you pulling from real life events at all or do you keep to the imaginary wistfulness of a fictional mindspace?

Laura: There’s no literal story being told, necessarily. But since we write from what we know… it’s both autobiographical and total bullsh*t.

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