SONNY SPECTRUM

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Sonny Spectrum is a singer/songwriter from Huntington Beach, California who has recently released his self-titled debut EP. Spectrum is no stranger to the Orange County music scene, but this EP represents in fact his first attempt at going solo. We reviewed this fantastic album and interviewed Spectrum below for your reading and listening pleasure.  

‘Get Freaky’ opens Sonny Spectrum’s self-titled debut EP with an up-tempo, pulsating synth, straightforward attack, and great drum sound. The vocal performance is strong in the verses (verses which featured captivating melodies), leading to a huge, 80’s style chorus rife with falsetto parts. The lyrics are a bit tough to make out in the choruses, as there is so much going on instrumentally, but the vibe and attitude of the track comes through clearly nonetheless. There is no lead-in to the second chorus as heard previously; listeners are transplanted from verse to chorus immediately (a smaller chorus to then a larger chorus). The bridge remains steady, repeating the chorus chords, but is then broken down to a halftime groove led by a sturdy bass that provides a solid foundation for sweeping synth parts. There are so many little intricacies that add so much to the song, and inspiration seems to be taken from everywhere and everything. The song’s structure is impressive, and everything was thought-out. The funky guitar parts and synth bass make it impossible not to begin tapping your feet on this fantastically-produced song. ‘Trust’ follows with swirling synths, claps, a grooving bass, and a kick drum. Falsetto vocals seem to be the trend on this album, this track being no exception. Again, more spectacular guitar parts are featured, reviving an older, funky 70’s and 80’s feel. All the instrument and vocal performances are very good, making the absolute most of the overall sound and mood of the song, and the timing is impeccable throughout. The track’s instrumentation is very diverse, and each chorus is intelligent. All I can say is that there is so much groove and so much funk; technically, it might be easy to sound cliche with this sound, but Spectrum does nothing of the sort. 

‘Be The One’ takes a page from another book, opening with spacy, otherworldly sounds and vocal samples. The track is bass-led and again features chucking guitar parts and Spectrum’s trademark falsetto vocals. Each of the instruments sound incredible in tone, play, feel, and groove, and you can’t help but follow the strong bass line. The backing vocals are stellar, as are the vocal harmonies, and the bridge brings everything together in an entertaining, enjoyable way. ‘Free Life’ closes the EP with a standout vocal performance and another impressive chorus. From the get-go the song is driven by low-end and quickly coupled with claps, the main vocal melody, and hi-hats to achieve a more upbeat feel. The drums, while basic, provide a lot of the song’s feel and encourage the song’s growth throughout. The song stays the same for most of its duration but changes to a totally different, jungle-like feel with about a minute left . My only critique within the whole EP is contained in this song; it is more repetitive and longer in duration than the others (‘Free Life’ features less substance and could have said the same thing lyrically in less time) and also feels less put together than the others structurally. I believe this is solely due to the fact that the first three tracks on the EP are so outstanding. The main statement to be made about this self-titled EP is that Spectrum’s sound is reminiscent of the older, cleaner recording style found on professionally-produced records of the 70’s and 80’s. He does a great job emulating older sounds while also contributing something new musically. Spectrum puts forth a very impressive representation of his writing and performance skills with this EP. The album is produced well, the dynamics throughout are precise, and each mix is laid out perfectly to ensure absolute auditory pleasure. I’d love to hear how all of this comes together live, especially the sections in which the many instruments play off of each other; I’d definitely recommended this album (especially for fans of Maroon 5’s record “Hands All Over”) and was extremely impressed with Spectrum’s debut EP. 

How has your hometown of Huntington Beach, CA influenced you musically and personally?

“Huntington Beach is a great city with a very laid-back vibe and great weather. I love living by the ocean and being outdoors. There are many styles of different music here in Southern California and I love that! The people are very open-minded and like all kinds of different genres. I have taken all my favorite parts of the music that I like and have mixed them to form a sound that I enjoy.” 

What artists have influenced you the most as a songwriter?

“The first album that I ever bought was The Beatles “Greatest Hits”. It was a cassette tape and served as the soundtrack of my walks to and from elementary school. My dad is a huge music lover and would always be playing Sly and the Family Stone, Prince, or Michael Jackson and there is no doubt that growing up in that household is when my love for music was ignited.” 

What life experiences or events led to the writing and recording of your self-titled EP?

“In 2011 some very tragic personal events took place in my life and I was doing my best to cope with all of it. Music provided the ultimate relief and I realized how much I love music. Looking back, it’s almost as if I fell back in love with music. Many of the songs on my first EP deal with facing and overcoming the many obstacles of life.” 

Even though you play guitar, piano, and bass, you chose to hire studio musicians to handle all the instrumental recording duties for this record: why was that?

“I recorded all the instruments for the demos and brought the tunes into Artisans Label Studios. My producer, Barrett Slagle, and I felt that the songs would reach their full potential if we had studio musicians play on them. This allowed me to focus my attention primarily on lyrics and melody. Also, we knew that by having studio musicians play it would allow for more creativity while adding some new flavor to the tunes.”

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