VICE Exclusive: Sun Araw Makes Mind-Bending Experimental Electronic Music
The solo project of Long Beach-based Cameron Stallones has created a strange world of psychedelic mathematics and electronics that somehow still sounds organic.
Sun Araw is the solo project of Long Beach-based Cameron Stallones, who used to be in a psych rock band called Magic Lantern and has also worked with Pocahaunted. These days, he's making experimental music in the true sense of the word, setting up elaborate semiotic frameworks and even inventing his own terminology. This is less for pretension's sake than for what Cameron described in the short interview I did with him as "creating a world."
On the new album, Gazebo Effect, he worked with Alex Grey (of experimental label DPI), and Mitchell Brown, to build a psychedelic universe of mathematics and electronics that somehow sounds organic. Check out the interview we did with Stallones below while you listen to his new track, "Processional," which appears on Gazebo Effect.
VICE: Can you explain this new project to people who've never heard your music before?
Sun Araw: It has always been a true solo project, every record composed, performed, and produced by myself, but with some guests here and there for special instrumentation. The live aspect has been fully collaborative since the beginning (in recent years, steadily with Alex Gray of DPI), and it's a continually inspiring parallel practice.
And you release this live stuff, right?
I've been releasing some live sets on my Bandcamp that are a collaborative interpretation of Sun Araw album material, with each iteration of the band numbered to chronicle the collaborators. The Trio is formed of myself, Alex Gray, and Mitchell Brown, who is a melon-expansion technician and 1/4" magnetic tape cowboy, long-legendary in Los Angeles. In the end, the process for making this music crept up unawares while we were just coolin'.
I've always enjoyed the visual component of your work and the way you present it. What are your influences?
I really try to feel my way to it intuitively. Though I think most of the things I see that electrify me are other records and sometimes books that seem very personal and like a world. My aim is to generate potency and generosity in an object. I'd like to [create a world] for anyone to enter who might enjoy that sort of thing.
Is that basically your entire conceptual goal with this project, then?
Since we recorded it, I've been working to discover what it was. We talked a lot as we were working about the nature of the production chain we had made. [The process] involved either Alex or I (or both of us) running into Mitchell's 1/4" reel-to-reel machine, which he manipulated by hand. So what we were doing was obstructed before it came back to us as audio in the room. For me, the experience was like playing guitar into a wood chipper, which was just fantastic.
Can you talk about this relationship you've mentioned in the past between "interpretation" and "obstruction"?
Obstruction is a form of interpretation and it's also a type of composition, meaning, a "picture of something." By this I just mean that when you make a move of any type, what comes back is a certain shape as your move has passed through a present structure of realities.
If you throw a ball or something, it will make a curved shape in the air. Certain things we do go just as we imagine, but others do not come close. Conceivably, the discrepancy or the quality of what comes back as compared to what you intended tells you something about the place you are in. This is sonar. We intentionally placed [Mitchell] as one of those structures of realities between our actions and their effects. Due to his unique musical sensibility, it became something very lovely.
Check out more from Sun Araw here.