Setting It Off
Local electro-pop duo Sun City have made impressive progress since uploading their first tracks to Triple J Unearthed 18 months ago. Now one of Perth’s most promising upcoming acts, they’re launching their latest EP, Set Alight, next weekend. JOSHUA HAYES chats with Tobias John.
Sun City’s resume doesn’t read like that of a band that emerged in January 2011. They’ve performed at Parklife, Stereosonic, Summadayze and Sets On The Beach, supported The Aston Shuffle and had one of their tracks, Zoetrope, featured on national ads for MasterChef. So what has made Sun City so successful, so quickly? “I’d like to know the answer just as much as you would,” John says, laughing. “I’m sure a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time, as clichéd as that sounds. But, further to that, as far as I know there isn’t a great deal of bands in Perth that are doing the exact same thing that we’re doing.”
One reason why Sun City stands out may be the classical music background shared by John and his band mate, Daniel Mackey. The pair have known each other since high school, where they both had music scholarships. They stayed in touch after graduating, continuing to play music together, before forming Sun City. Their high energy show – which has the pair playing up to 10 instruments live – soon earned them an invitation to open the Parklife main stage.
Sun City will be returning to Parklife again this year, but not before launching Set Alight at Villa shortly. The EP was released digitally last week. John describes Set Alight as an evolution from Sun City’s self-titled debut EP – which, he notes, was recorded under time constraints so it would be available in time for their first Parklife appearance. “[On] this record we’ve really had a lot of time to think about our sound and develop our sound and decide on the direction,” he says.
However, this did prove to be a challenge for the group. After playing so many dance music festivals, they found that it was starting to influence their live shows. “We definitely come from a more traditional music, band based background,” John says. “We have played in school orchestras and we’ve played in bands – we played in a punk rock band when we were in the 10th grade… For us it’s really important to play as many instruments as we can on the record, as opposed to producing fairly generic dance music.
“We’ve got a lot riding on how receptive Australia is to this new album; I guess we’ll just play it by ear and see what happens,” he adds. “If it goes well, we’d love to play a few more festivals and really get it out there and hopefully keep developing our live show, and share the experience with as many people as we can.”