Sunday Lendis: Interview/Premiere

Even though there are many talented young artists in folk-jazz music, Sunday Lendis caught our attention.

With thoughtful vocal arrangements, high-level musicianship, introspective lyricism, and modern production to tell stories of adversity and hope, her style beguiles listeners. The up-and-coming Leeds vocalist/songwriter will release her debut EP, Long Exposure, with noted guitarist and producer Ed Allen in the spring of next year.

Before the EP arrives, we’re giving you the first play of Breathe Again, an electronic, folk-jazz affair that perfectly showcases Sunday’s charming vocal skills and reflective lyrics. Think Jasmine Myra, meets Rosie Frater-Taylor and Bahla, and you’ll get a sense of what to expect from Sunday Lendis.

The song is a lovely ode to the light after the dark, when there is finally room to breathe and see the world around – to feel yourself again.

“This song was written after an eternity of winter, I had been struggling and working so hard to trudge through it all and out of the blue there was daylight and I could feel myself changing like the seasons. This song celebrates that moment in my life.”

There is much to look forward to if this track is indicative of the rest of the forthcoming project.

We caught up with the Sunday to ask her a few questions about the single, musical influences, the music industry and more.

Hi Sunday. What are you up to at the moment?

At the moment, I am currently prepping for the two shows I have coming up in December – December 7th supporting Andrew Wasylyk and a Sofar Sounds show on the 8th. As well as trying not to drop any balls on my first release campaign.

What first got you into music, and when did you start writing music?

Music has always been a huge part of my life, and I grew up in an environment filled with artists so naturally, the two came hand in hand. I remember listening to Nora Jones’ Sunrise record over and over again when I was about 4 and closely listening and learning how to sing the harmonies, I just found so much joy in trying to work them out and feel how they affected the music.

To be honest, writing has only really become natural to me recently. I have always resonated with improvising and free improvisation and found it easy to write in a live context under those ‘schools’, but I used to find it very hard to finish a song. I think, retrospectively, I have only figured out who I am in the last few years and it makes some sense that I wasn’t ready to say anything until then.

Do you remember your first live performance, and how was it?

I’m not sure that I do, I think maybe it might have been performing the Tarantella on violin with my friend Andy on Piano in year 4? But that’s a pretty boring answer, my first performance as a professional was with B-ahwe at Belgrave Canteen supporting Fatima – loads of fun, but I was of course, pretty nervous, and Beth writes beautiful but hard BV parts, so I remember being focused.

How are you feeling about releasing your debut single, ‘Breathe Again’? 

‘What am I not feeling’ might be an a more apt question! I’m absolutely terrified but also unbelievably excited! Anyone who knows me knows that this has been a long time coming, and although it’s so lovely to have all of your friends and peers very excited to hear your first record, it is quite scary too. But I am very much looking forward to having the first piece of me out in the world, and I appreciate that I’ve given myself the time to step back and only release when I’m ready. Everyone has been so supportive, and I am so grateful for that, I feel very lucky.

Can you share some details about the recording process of ‘Breathe Again’? How did you come up with the ideas for the track?

This track was written with my musical partner and good friend Ed Allen (guitar + production) – he is responsible for half of the magic on this record. The way that we’ve been writing this music has been almost back-to-front, creating demos/songs and then putting them into a live context, I think this has given them quite an interesting feel. On this record we have: on drums Theo Goss (K.O.G, Slow Loris), on guitar Ed Allen (Mabgate Organ Trio, Mamilah), on bass Joe Wilkes (Yaatri, Awen Ensemble) and on piano Glen Leach (Matthew Bourne, Fall Quintet).

The idea behind this tune came from this transformation I was feeling during the process of making music with Ed (as well as other transitional life stuff). After working on myself for so long, I felt like I was becoming lighter, brighter and more like myself, and it was sudden too – it reminded me of the time around April when you’ve forgotten what sun feels like on your skin, it’s been dark and gloomy and wet for so long that you don’t remember what it is to breathe, and suddenly the sun comes out. All of these flowers start popping out of the Earth and blooming, and you’re thrust into Spring; you can open the windows and let fresh air in again. This song celebrates the end of a very difficult period in my life, and I hope that we managed to embody that feeling of lightness and hard work paying off.

We’re in love with the style of production on this single – who is it by? 

Ed Allen produced this track – we had so much fun looking into using interesting and un-conventional production ideas and really relished in the process. He’s been such a wonderful friend to me, and I have so much to thank him for.

Who would it be if you had to choose just one influence on your music? 

My biggest musical influence for this record has to be Snowpoet (Lauren Kinsella & Chris Hyson) but other influences include Bahla and Maria Chiara-Agiro. All of these artists use folk, jazz and electronics in a really authentic way and I have always admired that so much.

How has Leeds shaped your sound? 

Well, I was actually taught by Lauren Kinsella for a few years and I feel like she played a huge part in my development as an artist. But as for the place itself, Leeds is so forgiving and so supportive in its scene that I didn’t feel pressured to make music before I was ready. It allowed me to explore free improvisation, straight-ahead jazz, folk, and so much more before turning inward to create my own sound.

You’re good friends with Awen Ensemble and Yaatri; are there other up-and-coming bands from Leeds we should check out?

Absolutely, always. My favourites at the moment have to be Kindelan – she’s absolutely killing the game, and her music is so binge-worthy! Rosie Miles – I’ve heard whispers of an EP, and her live set is wonderful! Lady – a humble rock goddess! And Opheliah! There are just so many it’s hard to narrow down, to be honest, but really nice to see so many women leading the pack at the moment and beautiful to be a part of that.

Are there any tips you would like to share with artists just starting out who may lack confidence or need to learn how to get a project off the ground?

Ask for help! It’s incredible how much people want to help you if you ask them. The industry is rough and doing the thing is really hard, but I guarantee you know at least five people who would like to be involved in your thing.

Apart from the single, what else is in store for the future?

My next single will be released in collaboration with CPWM and will be pressed onto wax which is super exciting, and then after that, there might be an EP being released in Spring… but you didn’t hear it from me…

CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

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