“We have musical tendencies and tend to play music,” the “about” section on Sun Looks Down’s Facebook page says. Although the band’s bio is terse, it largely owes itself to Columbia.
“We wouldn’t be a band if not for Columbia,” co-founder Spencer Horstman, CC ’14, said. It was through the jazz department that he and guitarist Jacob Sunshine, CC ’14, met drummer David Su, CC ’14, who, along with vocalist Diana Flanagan, CC ’15, makes up the psychedelic four-piece.
It’s been a tiring journey for Horstman and Sunshine, who attempted to start a band two summers ago but only managed to bring the group together in January. For a band so long in the making, though, it’s no surprise that their distinctive mixture of shredding riffs and soulful female vocals sounds mature and fully-formed.
Reflecting their wide variety of influences, which range from D’Angelo to The Doors, Sun Looks Down’s music is a spacious hybrid of jazz, krautrock, and R&B, underpinned by Flanagan’s ethereal yet powerful voice. On the psychedelic “Zoo Song” her primal yell battles with Sunshine’s guitar, while “Moonshine Academy” sounds like Air’s “The Virgin Suicides” soundtrack made heavy.
This isn’t music created in isolation. Sun Looks Down is proud to be part of a resurgent scene of Columbia bands and musicians that include Sunshine’s other project, Phonoscenes.
Columbia’s band scene is thriving, with 10 to 15 groups currently active, Sunshine said. These include Taylor Simone, CC ’14, and Ampersand (formerly TOX and GUEST), who are performing alongside Sun Looks Down at the Newer Sounds Back to School Showcase, this Friday at Hostelling International at 5:10 p.m.
“Newer Sounds is a great way of connecting with other bands in the city in a location that’s super proximate to Columbia,” Sunshine said.
On the same day, the band is also opening for Morningsiders, arguably the biggest band on campus now, at Sullivan Hall at 7:30 p.m.
In addition to a show at Spectrum on Oct. 15 and potential gigs at other East Coast colleges, the main item on the group’s agenda is recording. An EP is in the works, with sessions at the aptly named Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen booked for later this semester.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Sun Looks Down's show at Sullivan Hall would be at 8:30 p.m., not 7:30 p.m. Spectator regrets the error.