Meet the Bay Area new rock reggae Sunny State! They recently released their debut singles “Solutions” and “When You Know.”
Sunny State captures a fresh modern reggae vibe through their energetic and positive songs of love and empowerment. With powerful vocals, ukulele and guitar, Sunny State brings island vibes to each and every gig. Their diverse line up of songs tantalizes the ears in English, French, Spanish and even Croatian, using the island heritage of their front-man “Cristo”, Chris Reed, whose family originates from an island in the Adriatic Sea.
Connect With Sunny State Online Here-
Learn more about Sunny State in the following All Access interview-
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
Pleasure to meet you! Going to work on 3 songs I’m writing and determine which one will be next to record in the studio. Then have some work today before I head off to the gym. After that, I’m going to hang out with my two kiddos Violet and Indigo. Then, take my littlest, Indigo, to school for some Daddy daughter time. After that, dinner time and then off to a meeting about some fun music business stuff with a friend in another band.
Now that we are at the end of the year, how would you say that 2019 has treated this band?
2019 is our launch year and it has been amazing! We’ve played a bunch of fun shows and have been recording as much as possible as we begin to grow our fan base and get the word out about Sunny State. We have had over a dozen shows in two months, recorded songs, released singles, shot music videos, and even had to decline invites to play at festivals. The best thing of all though, has been meeting and connecting with such great audiences at the shows.
What have been some goals this group has had this year?
To have a solid lineup of musicians that compliment the sound and have a great attitude and ideas to add to the music.
Get band photos taken.
Begin recording and release 2 singles + record 2 music videos. We’ve surpassed that and finished recording our 3rd single, and are working on our 4th. We in preproduction for our second music video release for “When you know”. Our first single “Solutions” was released in September with a video as well.
How close are you to reaching them?
We’ve reached most of the goals, the only one we’re still working on is finding a local t-shirt company to get Sunny State shirts from. Only hang up we’re having there is that we’re looking for organic/ shirts made from recycled materials and most people dont have access to such materials but it is important to us to not add to the environmental problems of the world and be conscious-consumers.
What are you already excited about for 2020?
More shows with great bands and good people and releasing our debut record “Wild See.”
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together?
Yup, it was in July of 2019. I had been trying out various musicians. Finally, things began falling into place when Freddie and Julian came out to jam at a gig I had booked solo. Julian invited his friend James to play drums that night even though had never rehearsed and James had never played reggae before. But, somehow, it all clicked. James had bought a friend that day, who owned a truck, to help transport his drums. His name was Tyler. After we jammed and it sounded and felt good, Tyler and I were talking and he told me that he played bass and guitar. Freddie reached out to Roman to play keys and there was the band. Super organic, natural and meant to be!
Was it hard to think of a name that you could all agree on?
I had a loooooooong list I had been driving my wife crazy with for months. Finally, I narrowed it down to two names and, during a day when I had two solo sets and the guys were going to jam two additional sets with me, I decided to commit to SUNNY STATE. It felt right. As we were jamming, I hadn’t had a chance to mention anything to the guys yet and was, actually, pretty nervous to tell them I had just chosen our name for us and didn’t know if they would like it or not. But, as we were jamming and the audience was dancing, they kept shouting out, “What’s your band name!?!” I belted out “Sunny State!” The guys all gave me a look and that was it. In a blink of an eye, we were Sunny State.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
There is a major rat-race in the Silicon Valley. I think that has an opposite affect on us because, Sunny State, is all of our release from that. At the same time, I know I fall into that rat-race, even in the band, because I need to manage it and make sure we’re staying on track and keeping up our momentum. We’re also in a very culturally diverse place which only empowers us to expand what we’re doing.
How has the music scene there changed over the years?
As all the tech companies set up shop in the area, music venues began dying off and people stopped going out to listen to live music as much. It’s become harder to find solid venues that treat artists with respect and even harder to find venues here that are being attended by music lovers. But, there are still some and we are grateful for them and all they do to support this scene. Since there is very little foot-traffic in San Jose, we all have to work VERY HARD on the promotional side of throwing a show. But it’s all good. The only constant is change, right? So we just stay positive and roll with it. Working hard is part of the hustle you sign up for when creating music is your career. I dig it.
Let’s talk about your debut single “Solutions.” What was the inspiration for this song? How do you think it prepares listeners for more music from this group?
Let’s do it! Solutions was born a very unique way. One day, I didn’t know what to write about, so I reached out on Instagram and asked people to suggest 3 words or phrases. I got some great suggestions like; “witchcraft”, “tacos”, “cumbia”, “hope”, “love” “sleep”, “Eat the rich”.
I used all off their suggestions to write the first version of “Solutions” that day and posted a video.
Once I began revising and editing what I’d written, it made me think about, Violet and Indigo, and the changing state of the world. No matter what may be wrong with it, it is still so beautiful and THAT’S what I want them to focus.
I then thought of my wife, who always reminds them, when they have a problem, “Solutions not storms.” I thought of what a wonderful shaman she is for our two little humans. From there, I took out some of the silliness of the song that naturally came along with suggestions like “math”, “tech” or crossfit” hahaha.
“Solutions” became the story of a woman instilling positive social and environmental perspective to her children.
As for how this prepares listeners, “Solutions” is a song with a little different feel to it than a lot of our other songs. It’s a hair “rockier” than some of the more reggae songs. I think it prepares people for our socially conscious attitude in our lyrics and positive content.
Let’s talk about your latest single “When you know.” What was the inspiration for this song? How do you think it prepares listeners for more music from this group?
“When you know” was a very different process than “Solutions”. “When you know” is the true story of when my wife and I first got together 18 years ago, when she was still in High School, I had just graduated. She “played hard to get” because she had a friend who had a crush on me, but that’s a story for another time.
“When you know” is about, when you first see someone and just “know” that that is the person you’re meant to be with. For me, it was all in her smoldering green eyes and the energy she emitted. She just radiated something fantastic that I wanted to get to know. And, ever since that first moment where I passed her in the Starbucks parking lot at the corner of De Anza Blvd and Stevens Creek, not even saying a word to each other, I knew.
And, as for preparing listeners… We have sooooo much music to record and release this is not even the tip of the iceberg. Follow us on Spotify and be the first to hear them as we release them.
Generally, how does this group go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
I write lyrics, melody and song structure, then everyone comes up with their own part for the most part. Sometimes, in the studio various people will record parts, for example, Julian recorded Drums for “Solutions”, even though he plays guitar in the band and the engineer and I rocked a part on keys. We’re all doing everything in our power to make the songs live up to their own individual potential. Because, at the end of the day, it’s not about US, it’s about the music.
What is the first step in your music-making process?
When inspired, I grab a guitar or uke and turn my Voice Memos on my phone and just start playing around with chord progression ideas. Then, for vocals, I basically just start flowing, no rules, no right or wrong, no thinking about the content or what the song is about. Just start singing freely.
Then, I listen back and write down the things I liked that I heard and from there, turn that into a rough draft of a song. Usually it requires a few more sessions like this to have something usable for a song, but sometimes, in that one session, a song is born.
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? In other words, when you aren’t working on music, do you guys enjoy hanging out for fun?
A few of the guys certainly do. But, with all of our busy schedules, kids, girlfriends, wives, full time jobs, 3 jobs for some of us… It’s tough.
How do you feel that this band has grown since you first formed?
This is our first official year as a band and we’re growing everyday. In the music we play, the sound we’re developing and the tightenness we’re gaining while playing together as a band.
What do all of your various musical experiences bring to this group?
We all come from various music backgrounds so it’s pretty fun to meet in this reggae genre. We all bring our own spice to the table and it’s cool that we get to vibe off each other.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
As a group, most of our experience has actually been on stage performing together so I would say, ON STAGE!
What do you think makes for an ideal show for this band?
An ideal show is when the sound is really good. When we have monitors, can hear vocals and the ukulele and all the instruments. Next, if there are people there dancing and having a good time, those are the components for a perfect show for us!
What have been some of your favorite shows and venues over the years?
Favorite one to date is the Fall Edition of Sofa Street Fair in Downtown San Jose. It was the festival’s first time having a Reggae stage! We were honored to be working with Dubrock Records and Kruel Summer to put the stage together and set our area up to be a fun and awesome family friendly area where everyone good enjoy the good vibes. It was a huge stage with amazing sound, lighting and the crowd was rocking. It was perfect.
Where can fans see you perform next? Do you have any upcoming Fall tour dates scheduled yet?
Willow Den Public House on Saturday, November 23, 8pm. 21+
How has social media impacted this band?
It’s great! We meet new fans everyday through Instagram and send out fan mailers with stickers and buttons and our coasters once a week, all over the world. We love being able to get to know new people and love hearing their feedback. If you’re reading this and want free stickers and buttons, shoot us a message on Insta: @sunnystatemusic
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
It absolutely is. It is an escape for us and an escape for the audience. It is a chance for us all to lean in to the positive vibrations of the songs and release the burden of everyday life.
What musicians have really been inspiring you all since you first started making music?
I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but the artists that have inspired me are; Manu Chao, Ben Harper, Mat McHugh (The Beautiful Girls), Matisyahu, B.B. King and naturally, MANY MANY MANY MORE.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
The message of each song varies. The overall hope is that we provide people a reminder that it’s ok to be themselves. It’s ok to be sad when your sad and it’s ok to feel joy—even if others you know don’t. It’s ok to be you. Please, BE YOU! Be the best YOU you can be and want to be. We just want everyone to be the truest versions of themselves that they can.