With the current crisis gripping the world it has been a chance to relax with and discover some fantastic new bands. One of those bands is Brisbane five-piece Sunflower. This five-piece is the love child of leading front woman Kahlia Ferguson (fka. The Fergies) and singer/ songwriter Lawson Doyle (fka. Port Royal). The dynamic pair were fatefully drawn together at Bluesfest 2019, as showcasing artists on the Delta Stage. Struck by each other’s raw talent, the two quickly discovered a unique musical connection through months of songwriting and performing together behind the scenes. Kahlia tells Hi Fi Way more about their Isolation Jams EP and what else they have been up to.
How tough has isolation been for SUNFLOWER?
It’s been pretty tough! I feel like the whole COVID-19 situation escalated a lot faster than any of us really anticipated. One minute the guys and I had a hectic schedule mapped out for the year full of festivals, tours and music releases; next minute everything was cancelled indefinitely and we had to completely reevaluate. We’re all missing rehearsing and writing together. It’s been a massive adjustment!
Did the Isolation Jams EP come as a bit of a surprise, really dig the live clip filmed at the State Library?
Thanks! Yeah the live EP came about after our lead singer Lawson saw that BandCamp was giving 100% of album sales straight to the artist for 24 hours. We hadn’t released any music through SUNFLOWER yet, so we decided to get together in our band room and record a handful of unreleased songs live. We’re all really happy with how it turned out. The fan response has been unreal!
How is the band making the most of the lock down right now?
We’re doing our best to adapt! These days our focus is solely on SUNFLOWER’s online presence and staying connected to our fans. We released the live EP to BandCamp and received an overwhelming amount of support. We’ve been posting acoustic covers of Australian artists we love. A few days ago we put together a short self-isolation spoof to give everyone a bit of a laugh. The guys and I will start doing weekly live-streams in the coming weeks and we also have plans to release a single very soon. We don’t plan on slowing down at all. We really want to be in a good position as soon as this virus situation cools off.
Financially how tough is it for an independent band?
Really tough! Music isn’t an easy thing to make money from when you’re an indie band, especially now that touring isn’t an option. You have to be smart and creative about it and actively seek out opportunities that don’t undervalue you and your art. All five of us are full-time musicians and we really love this band and believe in the music that we’re creating.
Sonically, how would you describe your music?
Soul rock. Stylistically we’re a bit of a tug-of-war between Lawson’s high voltage rock’n’roll and my laid-back blues. The band is high energy and unapologetic and full of colour and life. We’re hard to ignore when we hit a stage.
Who would you consider to be the biggest influence on your music and why?
As a band we draw influences from Coldplay, The Black Keys, Oasis, Fleetwood Mac and Leon Bridges, to name a few. I adore Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse and Louis Armstrong, and if you ever take a drive with Lawson he’ll undoubtedly have an ACDC song (at full volume with the windows down) to play you. We’re all about infectious melodies and big riffs and honest lyric writing.
Best piece of advice you have been given?
Embrace whatever it is that sets you apart. Especially as an artist. Those quirks are the golden things that will make you and your music hard to ignore. They may have been things that you were bullied for in school, or that you feel self-conscious about. It could be a lisp or a hair colour or a personality trait. Being unique and distinctive is a gift. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Embrace it.
How did the band get together?
Funny story actually! This time last year, Lawson and I were both a part of two different bands who were competing in the finals of a Bluesfest band competition. We hit it off that night and discovered a unique musical connection after months of writing songs and performing together. I guess the stars sort of aligned in a way because both of our bands fell apart within a week of each other in November. We both needed a fresh start and so SUNFLOWER was created. It’s been a wild ride.
Are you looking to tour more broadly once the madness settles down?
Absolutely! The band and I are itching to hit the road as soon as this period of isolation is over. We have a Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne tour booked for the end of the year in support of a single we have in the works. We’re also looking to tour the UK and the US in the new year. We have big plans.
Are Better Days yet to come?
Absolutely! Hard times always pass. They don’t last forever. There will come a time when festivals and parties and embraces and vacations and concerts will happen again. You just have to ride the wave for now and not fight against it. Adjust to the changes and look forward to what the future will bring. Better Days are always just around the corner.
What’s something interesting that most people wouldn’t know about the band?
Well, Dan (the lead guitarist) and I are actually brother and sister, and when we were in our teens the band we were in together won a competition to support Powderfinger and Jet in front of 15,000 people. It was an insane experience. Not a bad thing to tell everyone at school the next day!
Interview By Rob Lyon