Orion Sun | photo by Sophie Hur | courtesy of the artist
Checking In With… Orion Sun
In times of crisis, it’s more important than ever to check in on your friends and loved ones. Here at XPN, we’re Checking In With our extended musical family to see how they’re holding up during the Coronavirus quarantine…and what music has kept them grounded. Today, John Vettese chats with Orion Sun.
There are any number of ways that musicians have handled their downtime and continued connecting with fans during the Coronavirus pandemic: live-streaming concerts. Reddit AMAs. Orion Sun has one of the most unique approaches, though; the Philly singer-songwriter last week hosted her first-ever beatmaking competition, having producers from around the country and the globe engage in a friendly face-off via her Instagram page, @cloudgem.
“Being a producer and a beatmaker myself, I wanted to reach out to that community and see how they were holding up, and get a bracket going,” she told us via phone. “There’s no sports happening right now either, so it felt really cool to have this competition in the way I would like. Honestly, I would love to see this on ESPN, or on a larger scale.”
Orion Sun hosted 30 producers over the course of five days, culminating in the Beat Bowl on Sunday, April 5th; the second tournament is under way this week. Orion Sun tells us that with entrants from Kenya and all around the U.S., in addition to Philly, she was surprised at the reach she had, and she was happy to see how many beatmakers connected through the process — and how many new producers she discovered. She calls it “a really cool way to utilize my small platform to give light to these talented and amazing producers. At the end of the day, it created a really really sweet community of music lovers, which was great to be a part of.”
Orion Sun has spent the past year and a half working on her album Hold Space For Me, which released late last month on Mom & Pop Records, and in our conversation, we talked about the lessons learned along the way, how she feels about releasing new music at the time she did, and some of her favorite songs of all time. Listen below.
Favorite Song Of All Time: “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In The Summer” by Stevie Wonder
“I’m going to base this [answer] solely on where I am mentally and physically right now in my life. I keep going back to this song. It’s such a comfort during this time for me. And the amount of times I’ve listened to it over the course of this time, it’s definitely sitting up there as one of my faves.”
Song That Raises Your Spirits: “Qadir” by Nick Hakim
“I’m gonna go new, just because when I first heard this song last Friday, I was blown away. There’s something about it. I haven’t been moved listening to a song in…I’m not gonna say in a long time, but it just hit me different especially in this time we’re going through.”
Song You’re Most Proud Of Working On: “Sailing” by Orion Sun
“‘Sailing’ was something completely different, but in my old spot I was living in, my neighbors were yelling and arguing so much that I was so distracted, it was coming through my headphones. I was like all right, let me scrap this idea, I put my phone up to the wall and recorded them, scored the moment. I was feeling very sad because of what was happening over there. But it’s a reminder that we all have the ability to take lemons and make lemonade; the song just sort of unraveled around that terrible situation. I got my friend manny roach to play bass on it, who also lives in Philly, so it felt really cool to bring some of my friends along for this ride. Everything around that song is a reminder to me that things can start off as a negative but you can always switch it to a positive.”