By Joshua Balicki
The electronic band SunSquabi started in 2011 when guitarist Kevin Donohue experimented with Ableton music software. Drummer Chris Anderson and bassist Josh Fairman rounded out the trio. Popularized as hydro-funk, their multilayered music transcends the conventions of genre.
With the incorporation of rock, jazz, hip-hop, electronic, and blues, SunSquabi produces a breadth of innovative music. Donohue lists the popular electronic duo Ratatat, Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck, andelectronic producer Pretty Lights as some of the early influences.
“The Colorado trio has quickly become one of the premier up-and-coming acts in the electronic world,” said The Road Berry music venue. “SunSquabi continues to breakdown and analyze the expectations of what a live-electronic band should be.”
At 8 p.m. today, SunSquabi will perform at the Blue Moose Tap House, 211 Iowa Ave., along with electronic band Cofresi.
“Finding new ways to integrate different genres together continues to be a challenge and experience in itself,” Donohue said. “When you are writing music, depending on what you have been listening to, or going through in your life, it comes out like a photograph. It captures that one moment of how you are feeling.”
Because of its successful collaboration with DJ GRiZ, SunSquabi signed with All Good Records. The debut EP, Odyssey, was releasd last spring. The album featured artists such as GRiZ and Dominic Lalli from
Big Gigantic. After the release SunSquabi went on a nationwide tour. “It was a really big opportunity to put something out that a lot of people were going to hear,” Donohue said. “The work ethic and creative process really got streamlined into making the album.”
The band’s latest album, Deluxe EP, implemented a lot of the same techniques found in Odyssey. Recording in Scanhope Sound Studio helped refine the sound. The band spent most of its time, “chilling and reading about philosophy and politics” during the creation of Deluxe.
Donohue said reaching out to other musicians was vital in the construction of the album.
“Music is fun to do, but it is more fun when you can collaborate with other people,” he said. “Musicians can always take each other higher than one musician can take himself alone. That was a mentality we tried to adopt.”
SunSquabi takes pride in its live performances. The band has a unique stage presence that complements the laser-filled theatrics found on set.
“The best part of being in a band is being able to reimagine yourmusic live in front of an audience,” Donohue said. “I describe it as acycle between what we are putting out there emotionally and physically compared to what the crowd is sending back you. The best shows are when everyone is feeling that connection.”
The name SunSquabi was a made-up word that Donohue and former band member Andrew Clymer frequently used in high school.
“It literally means nothing, besides this band and who we are as people,” Donohue said. “We are defining SunSquabi as we go … Every day is almost like waking up in a dream where I am surrounded by people I have looked up to for years.”
Donohue played vibraphone in drum line for his high-school marching band. It provided him with a musical foundation that led him to producing music. Donohue had not played vibraphone in nearly a decade when Jeffrey Lerner of the instrumental band Sound Tribe Sector 9 offered him a chance to play during a sound check.
“He pointed at me, and then I pointed at him like five times,” Donohue said. “The drum tech said that Jeffrey wanted me to come play. So, while they were jamming I played the vibraphone. Little things like that come back all the time and are the most memorable.”
This will be the third time SunSquabi will perform at Blue Moose. SunSquabi also said the local 515 Alive Music Festival has been vital in the promotion of up-and-coming artists.
“Blue Moose is a really fun spot,” Donohue said. “We make it out there as often as we can because the crowd is always super into it. I feel like the community in Iowa City for our kind of music is there.”
All Good Records states that SunSquabi “makes it look easy — so groovy and smooth.”
While the record company believes that the band makes it look easy, for Donohue, much more of himself is put into his work.
“It is about knowing that this music is something that could potentially make someone’s day and is a big piece of yourself,” Donohue said. “When being creative realize that it is an expression ofyourself but know that it will be shared with other people, so you really want it to be meaningful.”
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: Blue Moose, 211 Iowa
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: Blue Moose, 211 Iowa