Pensacola, Florida
Sunday September 23rd 2018

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Hangout Fest ’18—Playing the Blues

By Savannah Evanoff

Age is just a number—at least for the self-proclaimed “night music” band Sunflower Bean.

Julia Cumming (vocals, bass), Nick Kivlen (guitar, vocals) and Jacob Faber (drums) were all 22 when they wrote their sophomore record, “Twentytwo in Blue.” Despite the title, the semi-title track “Twentytwo” wasn’t so much about acknowledging age as it was about transcending it.

“It’s more about breaking free from the conceptual bond of 22,” Cumming said, “and also the obsession with youth that we live in … There’s so much more than your early 20s. There’s so much more than being 18. There’s so much more than being pretty.”

While the group doesn’t believe age is indicative of value, Cumming admits it matures together.

“People sometimes ask us what kind of creative growth and what kind of emotional growth we’ve done, almost like it’s separate—which maybe it should be,” Cumming said.

“But, for us, it’s all tied in. As we’ve grown as artists, it’s helped us grow as people.”

Sunflower Bean’s latest album title also features a color that kept coming up while songwriting, Cumming said.

The group always knew the album cover would be a dark, matte blue, Kivlen said.

“When I think about our different releases, we have an EP that’s green; we have our first album that’s maroon, and they sort of reflect those colors in their sounds and their feelings,” Kivlen said. “Colors are very symbolic. They all have different meanings.”

The sky, the ocean—places blue appears are seemingly expansive and impenetrable, Cumming said. The color represents strength, she said.

“We were trying to sum up the record in a jazzy way, and ‘Twentytwo in Blue’ rang out to us like that’s it,” Cumming said. “Maybe it’s like naming a baby. When you know, you know.”

The borderline indie rock/borderline psychedelic band’s latest album is “staggeringly” different from its debut album, “Human Ceremony,” Kivlen said.

Cumming believes the members’ reactions to being on tour contributed to the sound.

They were a little sick of screaming all the time, she said.

“That doesn’t mean screaming, yelling, jumping or moshing is bad; it’s one of the most exciting things about seeing a show,” Cumming clarified. “It’s something I still love to do, and we all love creating this big live experience like we will do at Hangout Fest.”

But the band needed to discover its identity. It felt truer to pull back, Cumming said.

“Do you always want to be screaming to where your lungs give out, or do you want to be a little soft sometimes, be a little tender, go a little deeper,” Cumming said. “I think we’ve pulled that curtain back. I’m nervous and excited to see what happens when we pull the curtain back further…”

“I think we’ve begun this creative path, and now that we have, I don’t see any way it’s stopping.”

SUNFLOWER BEAN
4:15–5:15 p.m. Sunday
Mermaid Stage

sunflowerbean.net