SUNLUST is an independent grunge/alternative female-fronted trio from Toronto, Canada, comprised of Stephanie Woulfe – Guitar and vocals, Stefano Signorile – Bass, and Daniel Wiktor – Drums. The band’s main influences are 90’s alternative and grunge, Nirvana, Hole, Dinosaur Jr, the Pixies, Bully, Courtney Barnett, Weezer, Tragically Hip, Skating Polly, Mac DeMarco. Sunlust is about to release their first album and Orange, released the last October, is part of our upcoming debut LP, recorded in Toronto. “Orange is about being among your peers and finding yourself retreating into your own world inside your brain. You don’t feel that you connect with them; you feel alienated, but you’re grateful for your own world inside your mind”. Alienation between peers and feeling out of place is a feeling that we have more or less all experienced during our adolescence when we only had our own personal inner world as a refuge and as a place of comfort. Sunlusts sing all this and are ready to smash!
YMX: Hey SUNLUST, thanks for talking to us. How have these gloomy times been treating you?
SUNLUST: Stephanie: These gloomy times have definitely been strange. I think as a band it’s affected us the most in the sense that we haven’t been able to play shows; I know I really miss it. We went from playing a show nearly every month in 2018 and 2019 to playing only a couple this whole year. But on the bright side, we’ve been able to focus a lot on recording our first album and promoting ourselves online.
YMX: How did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue? Are there any particular episodes that inspired you in doing so?
SUNLUST: Stephanie: I had taken piano and guitar lessons in elementary school, but it didn’t really stick to the point where I wanted to pursue it. In early high school I started really immersing myself in music, particularly 90s grunge bands – learning everything I could about them, listening to all the music I could absorb and going down these internet rabbit holes of discovering everything about this whole scene and beyond. I remember watching Nirvana’s Live at Reading and watching Kurt play “About a Girl,” and I thought, “I think I can do that.” So I picked the guitar back up and I did it. The inspiration I felt and still feel from those bands that I fell in love with so deeply really drove me to write songs and want to be a performer.
YMX: Here’s a fun game: name 3 artists, or bands, that inspire you and influence your work, and explain why:
SUNLUST: Stephanie: As I mentioned before, Nirvana is a huge inspiration for me, and Kurt Cobain is pretty much the reason I picked up the guitar and started writing. Hole is another huge band for me; Courtney Love was really the first female musician I started listening to who was playing hard rock music and who had such a presence, and that was very influential on how I felt when I was playing guitar… I wanted to have that presence. Finally, Bully has been really inspirational for me, especially as of late. Alicia’s balance of pretty/raw vocals in her songs is something I admire a lot.
Dan: Some of the most influential artists and bands that have inspired my drumming would be Rage Against the Machine, The Strokes, and Courtney Barnett. All of these bands have a very distinct sound and rhythmic feel that I’ve tried to hone in on throughout the years. I truly appreciate the style, versatility, and impact of their grooves. I’m also a big fan of how well these bands support the vocalist through the rhythm section.
Stefano: Motown Records session bassist James Jamerson is the first one that comes to mind. When I first started learning bass, I specifically emulated his “hook” technique so I could build up the strength and speed of my index finger. I practiced the bass line for The Jackson 5’s “Darling Dear” over and over again. The next artist on this list is the great Canadian rock band, Rush. When I listen to them, my mind is still blown that their music is only made by 3 guys from Toronto. Their music is quite intricate, and all 3 band members are virtuosic in their craft. Finally, I’d give my remaining spot to The Beatles. As conventional as it is, they are the first band whose music I fell in love with. It all started from there – you cannot forget your roots.
YMX: You recently released “ORANGE“. Can you tell us how that project came about?
SUNLUST: Stephanie: I wrote Orange a number of years ago, and it was just one of the many songs I had brought to the band. I wrote it about an experience I had where I was hanging out with people who I liked, but I felt like I didn’t really connect with them, and I kept thinking about how I just wanted to be in my room playing guitar or something. That little retreat into the comfort of my own head is basically what that song is about. Our drummer Dan came up with the concept for the music video and filmed, directed and produced it.
YMX: How did the pandemic affect your personal music recording experience? Was it easy adjusting to working remotely?
SUNLUST: Dan: Luckily for us we’ve been working alongside friends and studios that are in our neighbourhood in Toronto so we’ve been able to keep pushing to make our LP. It’s been encouraging to maintain the momentum of recording and not let it slow us down too much. We’re very thankful how far our songs have come during these times.
Stefano: It’s given us more time to polish and refine our recordings, as there’s less pressure to book shows and get the recordings out for a release show date. It’s to the point where we’ve completely changed elements such as bass lines and the song structures themselves from how we’ve been playing them the past 2 years. More sets of ears between our friends and families have been able to hear our record and give their input before we finalize it. We’re also lucky to have some great people on our side – in particular Lorne Hounsell and Jack Wiktor – as they are fully invested into the success of our record and want to strive for that perfection as much as we do. They’re both fantastic at making us sound really gnarly by incorporating their own personal touches and visions as to how our songs should sound.
YMX: Professional livestreams seem to be really taking over these days. Is it something you would consider doing?
SUNLUST: Dan: Yes absolutely – we’re currently working on some livestream shows that would bring together some great Toronto bands! Between all our friends in the scene, we have some solid audio and visual equipment to make something special. We’re excited to collaborate with our friends, perform, and share live music again – keep your eyes peeled for any updates on our instagram and facebook page! @Sunlust.band
YMX: Since pandemic began, online music promotion has become crucial for an artist’s growth. How important is that for you, and are there any strategies you are willing to share with our readers?
SUNLUST: Stefano: Online music promotion is extremely important as it’s pretty much the only way for us to grow as an artist in 2020. Since we can’t play live shows until further notice, we’ve been forced to step up our online presence and become more creative in that regard. For instance, our Top of the Heap series (where we talk about different vinyl records we’ve been listening to lately that fit a certain theme) and At Home & Acoustic series. This type of content shows our fans we are real and likeable people with personalities. We get to share our passions and what we’re interested in while engaging in dialogue with our fans. So the pandemic has helped us diversify the types of content we post online. Before COVID, our online presence consisted of just promoting shows and sharing pictures of our shows. To your readers I’ll share this – post good content frequently and interact with your fans as much as possible.
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future?
SUNLUST: Stephanie: As Dan mentioned, we’re hoping to get a livestream show together in the next month or so with some friends in the local Toronto scene, because we’re dying to rock a show! We also have a couple of singles and music videos on deck to be released ahead of our debut LP, which will be out in early 2021 (official date to be determined, so stay tuned). We’d like to get some new merch going too, things like screen pressed shirts and patches. We’ll also be pressing the record on vinyl which is really exciting. I think things can only go up from here.