Interview – J.E. Sunde / Video for “Hickory Point in the Fall” and 2016 Winter Midwest Tour


Photo from J.E. Sunde Website.

By Kelsey Simpkins (The Aural Premonition)

One year ago, J.E. Sunde headlined at 7th Street Entry, the show in honor of his recently released Shapes That Kiss The Lips Of God. Jonathan Sunde (The Daredevil Christopher Wright) brought a full band on stage to perform the album, making for a fantastic set and a vibrant experience of the songs live. Since then he has been performing mostly solo, and it’s been rare to catch him with an ensemble.

While seeing J.E. Sunde perform live in any format is a treat, it’s exciting to know that he’s on the road again – and this time with more musicians in tow. He’s on the road this weekend debuting a brand new trio featuring Andrew Thoreen (Har-di-Har) on bass and Shane Leonard (Field Report, Kalispell) on drums. J.E. Sunde is also joined by Waldemar (Eau Claire, WI / Minneapolis, MN), the new solo project of Eau Claire’s Gabe Larson.

Paste Magazine is also streaming his latest music video, “Hickory Point in the Fall,” directed by Zach Johnston of PHOX. Watch the video and check out what J.E. Sunde had to say about it and this weekend’s tour.

KS: I know that performing solo is more common for you, despite the instrumental complexity of much of your music. So besides the fact it’s a manageable size, what are you most excited about touring with this brand new trio featuring Andrew Thoreen and Shane Leonard?

JS: I love to present songs in different ways and am trying to build a creative life where the allowance for different collaborations and ensembles is baked into the nature of what I do. There is something really great about performing solo. There’s a freedom and flexibility to performing the songs in this really distilled way. Playing with a band is also incredible, however. What can happen when you get people in a room together making music is surprising and deep. Even with the most specifically composed music. Working with Andrew and Shane is something I’ve been looking forward to for the last year or so. We’re going to be working the kinks out of some songs that I’ve been writing for a new album as well as playing some older tunes with new arrangements. I think that is what I’m most excited about. Andrew and Shane are both generous and talented collaborators. d

KS: Your recent music video for “Hickory Point in the Fall” is almost more a short indie film than a music video, but I love whatever is going on. Where did some of the inspiration come from in making this unique piece? I know it was directed by Zach Johnston of PHOX, and Paste Magazine hints at some Wes Anderson aesthetic, but I want to know more. Especially where you found that gorgeous leopard headscarf at 2:34.

JS: Well, I can’t speak to the origin of the concept. That came from the mind of Zach Johnston. I was more than happy to follow his vision. However, the song is a surreal poem about the street that I grew up on and we shot most of the video on that street and in the house where I grew up. So certainly the environment shaped the esthetic and was an inspiration. The leopard scarf we found in a closet at the house and I think may have been part of a Tarzan halloween costume from years ago.

KS: Was any productive raking of leaves actually accomplished in the making of the video?

JS: Ha. Not really…maybe when I blew the leaves off the patio.

KS: Can you tell me a little bit about Waldemar, or Gabe Larson, who is joining you on tour? He’s another talent from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, which you have ties to and has definitely been having a heyday of sorts over the past year.

JS: Gabe and I are very newly acquainted. He sent me a single for his project Waldemar, which I thought sounded quite nice and pretty soon after that we started talking about setting up a tour. I’m looking forward to getting to know him and his tunes for a few days.

KS: Then you’re closing this tour with a show on Sunday, January 24th at Icehouse in Minneapolis. Any tricks up your sleeve for this set?

JS: We’ll be splitting the set in half with songs from the Shapes record and songs that I’m finishing up for a new record. All the songs will be arranged for a trio, which is a leaner ensemble then the records. So the trick will probably be playing the songs all the way through without messing up.

Come see J.E. Sunde on one of his upcoming tour dates:

Thursday 1/21 – Cedar Falls, IA at The Octopus w/ opener Emily Otis

Friday 1/22 – Chicago, IL at The Empty Bottle w/ openers Advance Base and Smoker

Saturday 1/23 – Milwaukee, WI at Linneman’s w/ opener Ladders

Sunday 1/24 – Minneapolis, MN at Icehouse



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