After spending the last year releasing a flurry of bright and enticing new offerings, Chicago-based singer and songwriter Sunflower Summit has now returned with her sweeping new single 'Metronome Heart'.
Collaborating with fellow artist Lace & Grit on the release, 'Metronome Heart' makes for a wonderfully warm and intoxicating listen. Filled with humble tones, soaring production, and their own stunning voices layered throughout, this new gem will wash over you and leave you feeling calmer in yourself.
So with the new single available now, we sat down with both of them to find out more about their backgrounds and what has been inspiring them over the years.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
SS: Admittedly, guitar, however once I got my hands on a ukulele, that truly got my attention, and is the first instrument I felt really comfortable writing songs with. However, to dig back even further, voice, as I’ve been singing my entire life, and learned to play guitar at 9 and uke at 15. Currently, I am loving writing piano music too.
L&G: I think I’ve always been in love with the piano. It’s amazing to me how many amazing melodies you can create from 12 notes!
What kind of music did you love as a teenager?
SS: It’s all over the map! I listened to what is expected of a young teen in the 2000s - pop top 40 hits, alternative rock, indie singer songwriter. . But I dug deeper, and discovered symphonic metal from indie european bands, started to get into more classical composers such as Debussy, Tchaikovsky and Chopin - I loved the strings so much I even picked up violin for a year! I also absolutely adored musical theater (and I still do!) and jazz - all the many facets of jazz, from classic standards to contemporary feminist jazz. I’ve loved music my entire life, and have never limited what I listen to, and just let myself explore and go down rabbit holes.
L&G: I was a rocker! My favourites in high school, and still today, are bands like Fleetwood Mac, Heart, The Scorpions, RUSH, Journey, Boston, Def Leppard, to name a few.
What is the one song you wished you could have written yourself?
SS: “I Don’t Know Anything” by Sara Bareilles. The lyrics in this song feel like they are straight from my brain and heart, and I am so obsessed with the deceivingly complex rhythm of the song, the way the song is left unresolved and how it grows to continue to tell a story. I also wish I had written both Arabesque’s from Debussy - the piano is so playful and mesmerising and moving - I wish I could play it as well as my teachers!
L&G: Either Landslide or Stairway to Heaven. These songs are epic and make me feel deeply! Landslide is an amazing story Stevie wrote about her father, which I can fully resonate with. Musically I think Stairway is perfect and takes you on a ride of a lifetime!
Do you have any habits or rituals you go through when trying to write new music?
SS: No rituals, but definitely habits. Creativity is a muscle, and if you don’t practice then nothing will come out, so I write something everyday, whether it be in my journal, a poem, half a song or even a verse. A lot of the time I have deadlines for when certain songs are due or have work for hire things going on as a topliner/vocalist, so I can’t wait for inspiration, I have to just start and inspiration follows. I’m usually working on 4-6 songs each month, and this is a pretty good pace for me. I always set aside time to write, and I’m gentle with myself. I know not everything I write will be gold (actually most of what I write is mediocre at best). But you got to sift through the mediocrity to get the precious gems, and it’s all just part of the process.
L&G: Sometimes I crank on music artists I love and dance around the house first. This inspires me, energises me and gets my creative juices flowing. If it’s nice outside, I sometimes will sit quietly, meditate on nature and pray. I grab my fav drink, head to my studio and try to release all stress from the day & any drowning thoughts in my head, so I can focus on the beauty of creativity.
Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?
SS: Currently I’ve been really into Sara Bareilles, Birdie, Aly and Aj, Hayley Williams, Bright Eyes, Florence and the Machine, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Christy Altomare, Death Cab for Cutie. I could go on forever honestly, I try to listen to new music every week and go through a deep listen of 2 new albums a week. Some of it for research, some for pleasure.
L&G: I love so many artists today! Grace Potter is amazing because she does it all! I also love Lady Gaga, Tori Amos, Pink, Daughtry, For King and Country, Lauren Daigle, OneRepublic and Imagine Dragons, to name just a few.
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
SS: Ooh so many. At least 30, that I’ve been able to keep track of, through my podcast, The Anthem Project. In this podcast I interview complete strangers and write them a song! I often get commissions for birthdays which I love to do. Outside of The Anthem Project, I don’t write about other people as often, or even myself - I tend to focus on experiences, feelings, and exploring what those things are in the span of a song.
L&G: Quite a few. On my recent album “Believe in Beautiful”, with my band Chasing Oz, I wrote a song for my best friend Allison who lost her battle with an illness. The song is called ‘Amends’. I also wrote the song ‘Believe’ about my brother, a song ‘Come Back to Me’ about my father and also a song ‘Child Inside’ for some very special sister friends in my life. I LOVE telling stories through song, and sharing the love between us humans.
What has been the funniest or most unusual moment in your career so far?
SS: I have a song called “Couch Potato” that I love to play live, and when I do I usually ask people to whistle along with me. Everytime I ask, I have a mixed bag of hesitant people and those who just jump in even when they don’t know the melody yet, and it’s always a beautifully humorous moment. When I switched to online shows, I started to ask people to unmute themselves to whistle, and the delay from zoom plus any feedback the mics may be given gives this whistling section an extra bit of charm, and I’ll never tire of it.
L&G: Oh my goodness. This is a great question! There have been so many of these because out on the road, anything can happen really.
If you could open a show for anyone in the world, who would it be?
SS: I would pee my pants if I got to open for Sara Bareilles.
L&G: Wow! I can only pick one? Well, I’m going to have to say HEART because Ann and Nancy are sister friends of mine from the great Pacific Northwest. Ann, to me, is an epic singer & songwriter. Nancy is an amazing guitarist, singer and songwriter. I believe they are both legends.
If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?
SS: I almost went into music education. If not for music ed, probably theatre education, and if not education, then I would love to be a theater technician within stage management or lighting design.
L&G: This is a very hard question to answer. Since the time I was a little child, I knew I’d do music one way or another. Everything else I did was in a way to perpetuate the music path. With that said, I think it would also be fun to be a music supervisor or a PODCAST host. I think the world needs a bit of encouragement and hope, so anything I can do to support this, and I’m in!
And what is the best piece of advice you have received as a musician?
SS: Be messy. Get okay with sucking, with being mediocre. The gold slivers will start to emerge from all of it. Communicate clearly and consistently with collaborators, be fair and speak up for yourself if you feel things are unfair. Have a clear vision for your projects, and if you haven’t discovered what that vision is, keep going until it’s refined. And you are only in competition with your past self.
L&G: Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough or put negative thoughts into your head. Don’t compare yourself to others. Be authentic, be unique, be YOU. You’re the only you and the best you here on earth. It’s ok to fail. Fail forward! Put in the hours and hours (and hours) of work in learning and practice. This will prepare you for success. And success is what YOU make it. GRIT it out, then LACE it up! The world NEEDS you and your music.
Sunflower Summit's new single 'Metronome Heart' is available to stream now. Check it out in the player below.