Melbourne jazz kings Sunnyside keep the momentum moving with their fresh new LP

Melbourne jazz kings Sunnyside keep the momentum moving with their fresh new LP

Photo by Henry King
Words by Augustus Welby

Melbourne sextet Sunnyside make funky, jazz-inflected dance music. The band’s second LP, Momentum, is sharp, musically accomplished and intent on getting your body moving.

It’s been just over a year since the band dropped their first piece of orange marble vinyl, Body Heat, which followed a couple of years spent making their mark on the Melbourne live circuit.

Momentum was made in Melbourne with Tobias “Tij” Priddle producing the standout cut ‘Stevie’ and Nick Herrera – who engineered Hiatus Kaiyote’s Tawk Tomahawk – overseeing the rest.

“It’s a very different production style between Nick and Tij, but through the mastering process I think we got them all sounding somewhat similar,” says percussionist Mackenzie Randall.

Sunnyside’s reputation hinges on their high-energy live shows. On Momentum, they worked hard to capture that energy.

“With Body Heat, we thought the way in which to get that energy was to track a lot of it live,” says Randall. “It sounded great, but I don’t think it really represented that energy.

“This time, we decided we could try and make it sound bigger than how the original tracks were recorded. That’s why we went with [Priddle], because he’s a prolific over-producer. Then we took the same idea to Nick and he was pretty understanding of what we wanted to do. His studio, his gear is just outrageous, so it sounds so crisp.”

Sunnyside will play an in-store gig at Northside Records on Friday November 29 to celebrate the record’s release. A full Australian tour is booked for January and February 2020.

They’ve become festival favourites over the past couple of years, hitting Mullum Music Festival, NYE On the Hill, and Hopkins Creek, as well as a show for Melbourne Music Week.

Sunnyside made their first overseas trip in July 2019, playing two sets at Japan’s Fuji Rock festival. The seeds of the Japan tour were planted at the 2018 Mullum Music Festival.

“One of the headliners was Osaka Monaurail. They’re a Japanese funk revue that pretty much only play overseas. We ended up being next to them at the hotel and invited them to a party after the festival,” says Randall.

“Then they were in Melbourne the next week and we went to their show and lent them some gear, hung out. Our bass player [Gordon Li] hustled them for contacts in Japan and the contacts they sent through ended up being one of the bookers for Fuji.”

The Fuji Rock organisers made Sunnyside an unofficial offer, but requested the band find a local promoter to book them a larger scale Japanese tour.

“In the space of three days, we had to convince our manager that it was a good idea and then also get a promoter to book us a couple of shows,” Randall says.

They ended up playing ten shows in total, covering Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya, along with two sets at Fuji Rock.

“The promoter, Vaughan [Allison], he’s the ultimate hustler,” says Randall. “We rocked up to our first show in Tokyo and we ended up pretty much selling the place out. There were 150 payers that came.

“Then people started following us on the tour. We’d be in Kyoto and heaps of people that were at the Tokyo show travelled over to see it.”

Further Japanese touring is definitely on the cards, but the band’s aims for Momentum are pretty down to earth.

“[We’re excited] to be able to release a piece of music that people can listen to and understand our live show and our energy and how it translates. At the moment, we’re at this point where people are like, ‘Can I check your music out?’ and we’re like, ‘Ah… I guess.’

“It’ll be good to have a body of work that represents what we’ve come to in the last couple of years. We’ve definitely got a Sunnyside sound that we’re happy with.”

Momentum is out on Friday November 29 via Mind Detergent. They’ll launch the record that day with a free performance in-store at Northside Records. Find out more via the band’s Facebook.