Posted On 25 Oct 2017
Meet the indie-alt rock band, SondorBlue! Based in Charleston, this quartet features three part harmonies that harken back to the days before Pro-tools made real vocal talent optional. Originally hailing from Hilton Head, the band relocated to attended school at College of Charleston. In spite of being in their early twenties the band is often compared to classic rock acts like the Beatles and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. SondorBlue have been touring the east coast extensively in 2017 and were recently tapped as a local opener for NPR’s Tiny Desk tour.
Learn more about SondorBlue in the following All Access interview with with their lead vocalist and bassist, Andrew Halley:
Thanks for your time! Where does this interview find the band today? Is there music playing in the background? What music do you all like to listen to when you are relaxing or answering interview questions?
– We actually just got done with a rehearsal. So, to be quite honest, I’m listening to the sound of my electric tea kettle (my lifesaver) and I’m about to whip up some honey lemon throat coat tea.
How does 2017 so far compare to last year? How differently did you all approach this year then you did 2016?
– 2017 has been somewhat of a dream, as we’ve made a lot of progress as a band in terms of direction, taste, showmanship, knowledge… even the way we organize equipment and tour routing has smoothed out tremendously. I think the only thing we really consciously changed going into this “2017” chapter of SondorBlue, which is quickly coming to a close, is setting goals. A friend and fan of ours, Bill Middleton, is a professional life-coach and a stellar one at that—he’s not only instilled this concept of goal-setting in us, but the agency and steps to complete our goals as well. We’re excited for the “2018”, too, which I am now declaring “The Year of the Album”.
Can you recall the moment you all realized that you could really make music together and be this band? Why do you think your name truly represents this group and the music that you create? Where did your name come from in the first place?
Truthfully, there wasn’t any moment in particular that struck everyone as the moment we became a band. Rather, it’s been a very organic process and we’ve all gone with the flow and have both collectively and individually wanted to work hard and diligently on our craft these past two years—there isn’t anyone in the band who wants it less or more than the other person. We’ve created a “collective ego” as I like to refer to “it,” the entity that is the band. As for our name, SondorBlue, it’s just stuck. “Sonder,” which we changed from an “e” to an “o” simply for the aesthetic, is a made up word from a YouTube channel, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, and it, Sonder, is the realization that every passerby has a vivid and complex story/life just as unique as your own and, because this story is essentially the same as your’s, just different experiences, there is a universal cloud of empathy that should follow you into every interaction with another being.
I always like to ask artists how their hometown has been an influence on the kind of music they make and really what kind of a band they are today. So how do you think being from Charleston has affected you and the music that you create? What is the music scene like there these days?
Well, we all actually grew up in Hilton Head Island, SC, which is roughly two hours south of Charleston. However, both have been instrumental in influencing the kind of art we create. As far as Hilton Head goes, there are a lot of beaches and marshy, woodland areas, so we all spent a lot of time outside growing up and developed a reverence for nature at a really young age. This infatuation with nature comes to fruition in songs like “The Moon and You” and “A Beautiful Dream,” which is off of our second EP, “You Will Find Love in Ashley Avenue”. In regards to Charleston, the inspiration has been incredibly visceral because it’s much more of a city than Hilton Head and it’s where we learned to think for our selves and believe what we want to believe. But, in respect to the music scene in Charleston, it continues to flourish each day and there a lot of great venues like Music Farm, The Royal American, and Pour House that have created a platform for local musicians and connected them with out-of-town artists, too.
Let’s talk about your new EP that you hope to release later this month or next. What was it like making this collection of songs? Did anything surprise you about the whole process?
– “You Will Find Love on Ashley Avenue” feels like the first piece of art that we’ve created, and by art I mean the first collection of songs that have felt like an accurate depiction of us as band both songwriting-wise and sonically. The biggest surprise and most rewarding aspect of the whole process was the amount of “homework,” I’m using this term loosely, that we had to do in preparation for the studio. Instead of saying, “I want the guitar to sound like this,” we worked with each other outside of the studio and our producer/engineer, Omar Colon, in the studio to actually create the sounds we were hearing in songs from the artists that we love.
What was the inspiration for these songs? Generally, how do you all go about writing songs? Do you take turns or do it all together?
– Much of the inspiration from these songs stemmed from what we were getting into at the time: the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Tame Impala, and the list goes on… Our writing process is pretty straightforward—one of us has an idea and we all get together in a room or the studio and finish the idea.
How have your shows been going this year? What have been some favorite performances?
– The shows have been becoming shows this year, which entails smoother transitions and more theatrical elements like not breaking the fourth wall until the third or fourth song of the show. I don’t know if I’ve had a favorite live performance yet, but I’m excited for our EP release show at the Music Farm Charleston October 20th because it is going to be the first show that we’ve filmed and recorded in its entirety and we’re displaying some of our new songs in their finished form for the first time.
What was it like to open for NPR’s Tiny Desk Tour? Can you talk a little about what that is all about?
– Wow, yeah, that was an experience for sure. We weren’t expecting anything to come of our submission for the Tiny Desk Concert, then one day we got an email that said we were going to be opening for Tank and The Bangas. The show itself was very short, a four song set, but it was cool because we were performing at a ten (intensity-wise) the entire time.
Where do you think you are all happiest- on stage performing, in the studio recording new music or elsewhere?
All the above.
With the summer being just about over, what was your favorite part about it? What was something fun that this group did or tried?
– New York City was definitely the highlight of the summer. The energy you feel from that place sticks with you forever. There’s nothing quite like it.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being in this band gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these hard times?
– SondorBlue is, for me, joy in and of itself. Just being in this band is joyous. I think that the artist’s only job, as Nina Simone once said, is to comment on and reflect the times. Music as art will reflect these times, but music as entertainment will not.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Is there anyone that you would still love to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for this band?
Ah, well, all of us sort of find music together or tell each other about what we found right away. So, I can kind of speak on behalf of the entire band as I rattle off a few of our favorite artists. Whitney is killing it right now. Their songs “Dave’s Song” and “Golden Days” are two of my favorites at the moment. Tame Impala is a given. We’ve really been digging The Lemon Twigs recently—they’ve got a really emphatic and honest baroque-pop sound going on, and their live show is ridiculous. We’d love to work with them in the future. Daniel Caesar’s song “Japanese Denim” has been on repeat in the bus for a few months now. I’d say our dream collaboration would be with, if they have to be living and have to be a band, would be with Dr. Dog. Their music has impacted us a lot in terms of arrangements and tones, so that’d be a nice learning session for us.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
– I hope people can relate to themselves, other beings, and the world more after listening to our songs.
What advice would you give to a band just getting started? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
– Ditch your individual ego and make a way cooler and productive/creative one with all of your band-mates.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about the band or your music?
– Live consciously and don’t hit the snooze button. Reduce the amount of meat and dairy you eat, as the mass consumption of meat and dairy is the main culprit in climate change, respect the Earth, find your passion, realize that life is beautifully absurd, and smile.