We had the pleasure of interviewing Sondra Sun-Odeon, who discussed her solo debut Ætherea, her interest in poetry, and more. Sondra will be opening for intuitive folk artist Diane Cluck on the west coast leg of her album release tour beginning this week. You can find tour dates at sondrasunodeon.com. Below is a brief biography provided by Sondra, followed by our interview.
Sondra Sun-Odeon is a Brooklyn-based singer/recording artist; the voice of psychfolkrock band Silver Summit. Residing in the same spiritual vein, Sun-Odeon’s solo work travels further into the ether of her lyrics’ darkly romantic world, full of heartbreaking longing and desire. On her debut, Ætherea, guitar loops meet clouds of tempestuous string arrangements and morph into fingerpicked arpeggios…ethereal vocals give way to abandon, adjacent heavy drop-tuned guitar chords.
The sounds are at times reminiscent of Earth, Charalambides and the voice and mood call to mind 200 Years, early Cat Power, Jason Molina, and the lost doom of Nico…
When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician?
I think it was in junior high school orchestra…I played violin in it, and we were performing a piece (I can’t remember what it was). I remember a distinct moment of pure consciousness in which I felt as if the entire orchestra was many individual efforts, spirits, in unison for something greater than any each of us. I felt all come together for a second–my world and everything in it made sense. It was profound–ever since, I have been trying to revisit that space, that moment of forgetting the individual self completely.
You played in the band Silver Summit before releasing your solo album Aetherea. Why did you decide to transition to a solo project?
I had already been playing some songs out whenever Silver Summit was offered a show that we couldn’t do as a band. I would play solo and perform songs that I had written, but weren’t really taken up by the band. It wasn’t really a conscious decision, but something that happened by default, if you will.
What are some of your musical and non-musical inspirations?
Musically, it’s always changing….I’m inspired by everything from Vedic chants to electronic music to native music….I’m also inspired by the sound a certain ATM in Brooklyn makes. Similarly, I am inspired by people….words…experiences…landscapes taken in on long walks. Colors.
I really like the dreamlike and melancholy quality of your music. Although there are limits and subjectivity involved with categories, how do you characterize your songs stylistically?
I really can’t characterize them…I’ve lived w/ them too long! I’ve heard others use words like “ethereal” and yes, “melancholy” comes up a lot. “otherworldly” also. These are good words.
Your songs are very personal and deal with topics like love and loss. Which songs are most meaningful to you and why?
“Paradise” is particularly meaningful to me because I wrote that at the time of my paternal grandmother’s death. The idea of “paradise” has changed over the years, but still encapsulates this pure idea of Reunion in Eternity for me with all things and souls.
In what ways is your music feminist?
Hmmm, that is a difficult question. To me, being a “feminist” simply means believing the feminine is fully human, without devaluing male-kind. I prefer to say that I am for the return of the feminine divine. So, for myself, “feminist” isn’t really a terribly descriptive label (and I hate labels and boxes). I’d prefer to say that my music is an expression of the feminine divine, since I try to live my life as an expression of the same.
If you could cover any song, what would it be and why?
Oh there are SO many…and why not?
What are some of your interests outside of music?
Well, I am a teacher and student of yoga, and spend a lot of time studying the philosophy of yoga as well as Buddhist psychology. I also have written most my life, and am working on a book of poetry. Honestly, I find so many things interesting and love learning and exploring; there are too many interests to name!
What projects are you working on currently?
I am working on a new album (music) and the aforementioned book of poetry. As well as collaborations (musical) with friends near and far…
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Not sure I’m one who can give any great advice, since I actually do not consider myself a musician, but more an artist who has been working w/ music as my means of expression….it’s all a practice– like yoga, like living, like anything. Persistence. Awareness. Be honest and listen to your intuition.