premiere: ‘thierry disko,’ sunni colón’s smooth 70s psychedelia
The first official EP from the 25-year-old singer and producer puts an eclectic funk spin on Los Angeles loneliness.
Sunni Colón's upbeat, soulful grooves are the perfect soundtrack to summer nights, but the 25-year-old's cuts aren't strictly nocturnal. In fact, the clutch of tracks comprising his first official EP, Thierry Disko, sound rather excellent booming from car speakers. Colón's progressive blend of 70s funk and Frank Ocean-smooth vocals can take the edge off any traffic jam, likely because he hails from the land of them: Los Angeles. But while Thierry Disko enshrines joyful, richly textured efforts, the record emerged from trying times.
"Thierry Disko began while I was living in my car in Los Angeles," Colón tells i-D. During that period - almost two years - he wrote songs including "Jezebel," "Water," and the soulful strummy "Temple," which featured in Dear White People and appears on the film's official soundtrack. Having mastered five instruments since the age of 13, "I began recording the EP with the portable equipment I own in different friends' living rooms," before flying out to New York to complete the record with songwriter and producer Dillon Pace. "I had no money for professional mixing but Dillon offered to mix and help me complete everything for free," says Colón.
The resulting EP is, according to Colón, a "deeply personal" one. Each of Thierry Disko's eight tracks - even its more up-tempo moments - began from experiments on keys and guitar. "I could have wrote and put out a gloomy project like Here, My Dear by Marvin Gaye or Pink Moon by Nick Drake but I never wanted to stay in a state of despair. Instead, the lighter tracks encouraged me to stay progressive and reminisce on the times when people told me 70's funk uplifted the less fortunate," he explains. "Writing about my personal experiences helped me get through the struggles."
Thierry Disko puts a compelling, contemporary spin on those high energy 70s funk grooves and psych rock riffs. There are some serious echos of Ocean's Channel Orange confidence shaping "Way You Talk About Me," while lead single "Feel4U" treats Prince-esque sparse but atmospheric lyrical imagery to some breezy old school swing. Colón cites everyone from Stereolab to Stevie Wonder (and Pink Floyd for good measure) as an inspiration on Thierry Disko's nuanced sound.
Through the record's highs and lows - "moments where it is completely vivacious, and others where it's more emotion-inducing" - Colón says he'd mostly like for listeners to "learn and relate to me as a human being." "I know we all come from different realms of life, but I don't make music to ostracize people," he explains, "I just want people to enjoy the music for what it is. Dance, laugh, weep, make love, whatever your spirit desires."
Text Emily Manning
Image courtesy William Foster