Meet SunSon, the solo project of Stanley Mathabane: Portland, Oregon native, recent (2017) Princeton University graduate, Brooklyn resident, and exciting DIY multi-instrumentalist and producer fusing indie rock, pop, funk, and more. I’m excited to be premiering SunSon’s new video for “Guerrilla Welfare,” a jangly, summery jam, from SunSon’s album of the same name that was self-released in February. Fans of Mac Demarco’s indie rock, STRFKR’s bouncy pop, and even our friend L. Martin/The Walters’ dreamy, high-energy vibes will find lots to enjoy here in the song, and the split-screen video by director/videographer Noah Porter. The undeniably catchy vibes of “Guerrilla Welfare” have the makings of a future hitmaker in the indie world.
As Stanley/SunSon explains the video collaboration with Noah,
I had seen a video of Noah’s that he made for my rapper friend, Old Grape God. The track was for a project of his called Paint Soup. I loved the video and had the opportunity of meeting Noah. We clicked artistically pretty instantly — he has that rare balance between passionately creative and productive. So, I reached out to Noah about shooting a music video for a track off my upcoming album — this was back in January so at that point I was still working mixing and mastering the final versions of the songs. He got back to me and we met and chatted about what we wanted our art to convey and how I felt SunSon’s themes translated to visual imagery.
We decided that personal truth was a key quality, so consistent with that element I made a list of locations in the Portland area that I felt a personal connection to — some were locations where I would walk for hours while listening to STRFKR, The Shins, Radiohead, etc. These locations then became the places we went for the music video shoot.
The visual imagery then developed naturally during the shoot. The locations shared some common sights that collectively set the tone of the piece. It was awesome because I didn’t realize I had such an affinity to particular natural symbols until we went to the locations in that one day of shooting and I got to feel that nostalgic soup of memories and cherished spaces.
I like the explanation for SunSon’s name on their Facebook page: “You know that feeling when you’re really vibing with someone and you feel a certain warmth radiating from the center of your Self? That warmth feels a lot like the sun to me. When we are close to one another and openly sharing in this groovy existence, we feel sensations oddly reminiscent of that orange orb that makes life on this rock possible.
I make music to allow people that feeling. I play my music live to help people see each other in these moments of glow. We are SunSon. I use Son because it refers to “the descendant of” — I mean it in a gender neutral sense. Anyone who wants to can identify as SunSon, so let’s get together, shine, and bask in the glow of each other’s warmth, both psychological and physical.”
“Guerrilla Welfare” comes from a 24-track album of the same name, which SunSon worked on continuously over the past four years while studying meditation and philosophy towards a degree in Cognitive Psychology at Princeton. SunSon’s perspective on creating this dynamic, prolific sprawl of music is that “the album was all a personal labor of love, born from the existential need to share truths that I carry with me in my story but had yet to give a song to.”
As SunSon further explains:
“The album is a tight lipped smile and nod of solidarity between the appreciative and the considerate. A relationship that doesn’t make the headlines. I think we tend to find negative emotions more stimulating and available these days — the good things we do for one another can sometimes be lost in the mass of stories that float about in this digital age.”
This study and reflection then became the fertile ground for songs about love and loss; trying to understanding and accepting being misunderstood; the cyclic relationship between experience and conceptual understanding.
I wanted listeners to know that there’s someone out there reflecting on the truths they live rather than swallowing lies sold. I especially think it’s important to have this sort of message in a time when people can become enlightened to what’s awry in the world and then descend to odee cynicism or fatalist. I think that disillusion can be fruitful if channeled properly. The problem is that we don’t have many people celebrating the skeletons in our closets- they’re not going anywhere. And not all of them are just skeletons.
These painful but obvious facts of the circumstance of being alive are what inspire me. I want to re-write the narratives of taboo and tragedy to include growth after the crisis.
“Guerrilla Welfare” is a groovy, engaging, multi-layered tapestry of an album, and it’s definitely worth checking out at SunSon’s Bandcamp and other tracks at SoundCloud. It’s an exciting debut from a highly promising next-generation DIY artist.