Interview by Tracey Collen | September 26, 2013
I have been a fan of IndigoSun since the first time I saw them at SummerCamp Festival when they played in the forest until the early hours of morning and I was stoked to get the chance to interview them this past week!
IndigoSun formed in 2008 with the purpose to spread love by grooving to their music. The band has 4 members: Kyle Liss (keys, synth, & laptop), Lucas Ellman (saxophone & effects), Steve Florian (drums) and Mike Cantella (bass). Their mission is to make music that combines deep melody and intense rhythmic complexity. Their instrumental skills have created a strong connection between the audience and band members.
Some of their musical inspirations are Lotus, The Coop, Steez, Brainchild, Big Gigantic, Papadosio, and Radiohead. However, IndigoSun creates a unique sound that separates them from their influential musicians and describes their genre as “ecstatic dance jams fueled by cosmic funk.”
IndigoSun has opened for Big Gigantic, Family Groove Company, and The Coop (just a few to name). This summer they have played at A LOT of festivals: SummerCamp, Rootwire, Hyperion, Duck Fest, Whippersnap, Hoodilidoo, The Boulevard, Weird Bass, Jammin’ on the Wolf, Hoopla in the Hills, and Future History.
They are spiritually, emotionally, and physically connected to their music and as a fan, it is hard to not notice the enriched enlivened power of expression through their music.
1. When you guys formed in 2008, what inspired you guys to make music together? Could you briefly describe IndigoSun’s music-making process?
It was really several things that came together to “birth” IndigoSun. It started with just Kyle and Steve, when we were both in our first years of a jazz degree and playing together in more of a jazz/funk setting. Neither of us where into dance or electronic music, but then Steve went to Rothbury Music Festival in 2008 and came back determined to make dance music and be a part of that community. With a bit of persistence, Steve turned Kyle on to this crazy dance/electronica music and we started really exploring the genre. But that spark of jazz has never left us, especially the desire to push musical and personal boundaries through experimentation.
Kyle: In terms of the music-making process, it’s definitely evolved as we’ve grown tighter as a group, especially in the last few months while we’ve been writing new material for the trio configuration. When we first started to implement the laptop and electronic production into our sound, I would compose and produce textures, layers, and soundscaping in full, and then bring the song to the group after it was 100% finished. Of course it was still open for changes, but things were much more static when the group heard them for the first time. With that, songs were often very dense by the time they made it to the group, and in certain cases (e.g. when we were mixing our first full length album, Behind Closed Eyes) this overabundance of electronic production made things tough when we went to release a track. Over time, my production for the group has grown sparser, and the newest songs have a much better balance between the band and the laptop. With our newest songs, I’ve been writing a “skeleton” or sketch of a song and bringing that to the group for suggestions, ideas, and to flesh it out more and turn it into something more coherent. Once we’ve rehearsed and jammed on it for a few weeks, then I’ve gone back and added electronic production to fill it out. This is a very rewarding way to write for both me and the band, and it’s been yielding great results in our new tracks!
2. IndigoSun has had a busy summer, playing at many festivals and venues, how have you guys evolved from last summer?
Mike: I feel like the sound has really matured over the last year. The songs are getting more complex while also being more focused. There is certainly an even wider palette of sounds with the introduction of vocals, synth bass, and electronic drums; and we’ve incorporated a wider variety of styles like neo-soul, hip-hop, even some random metal-inspired sections. It’s been really fun, and again comes from our desire to always be pushing ourselves and trying new things.
Steve: And endless credit to Kyle for composing and producing such awesome stuff!
3. What were a few of the best experiences for IndigoSun this summer?
Steve: Playing Rootwire was certainly a highlight for me. Even just attending that festival is a profound and powerful experience, but to be able to play in that space, and especially with such wonderful support from our IndigoFamily, was an extraordinary experience that I cherish.
Kyle: Yeah, I definitely second Steve’s thoughts about Rootwire. We’re very spiritually-oriented people (Steve and I are practicing Kadampa Buddhists) and we seek to infuse our music with that kind of energy. To find a community where that spiritual focus is the overarching intention was such a beautiful and blissful thing, and we feel an incredible debt of gratitude to Papadosio for bringing us into the fold there this year. Also, Duck Fest (produced by Evolution Eyes Productions) was awesome; this was the first festival we every played in 2010, and this year it returned and we headlined the fest. We played 4 sets (improvised, Daft Punk, normal IndigoSun, and acoustic) throughout the fest, which was great. The highlight from there was Bernie Worrell (keyboardist from Parliament Funkadelic and The Talking Heads) hopping up on stage and getting funky with me on my keyboard rig… definitely one of the top 5 musical experiences for me ever!
4. What do you guys have planned for the Fall? New releases? More shows?
Oh there will always be more shows That’s just what we do, play out, as much as we possibly can. And with Lucas leaving the group, we’ve been working on a bunch of new songs to debut, composed specifically for the trio, and more collaboratively composed than ever before. As far as official releases, we’re currently mixing an EP featuring various MCs and vocalists to be released by the end of the year, and prepping to record a new full-length studio album, due out next spring. There will also be a few singles released in the next 9 months or so, so keep your eyes peeled on our official website and facebook for all the details.
5. What has been the most rewarding experience since the formation of IndigoSun?
Being able to share our music with others and being told by some that our music has brought significant healing and joy. There’s really no greater compliment or feeling we could hope to get from our music. Also, just the joy of sharing the stage, and the road, with such wonderful people and musicians. It’s certainly been a blast.
On Friday, (9-27) IndigoSun will play at the CubbyBear in Chicago. Definitely a show to not miss (it will also be Lucas’s last show with IndigoSun)
Want more IndigoSun?
They offer live recordings of some shows here
Listen to official releases and downloads here
9-27: CubbyBear in Chicago, IL
10-5: Hangar 9 in Carbondale, IL
11-1: Nightboat Music Cruise in Chicago, IL
Connect with IndigoSun