Melbourne band, Sunfruits, are making our world brighter with their sun-soaked ‘60s-pop-psych-rock! Their debut EP Certified Organic is out on Third Eye Stimuli Records (Australia) and also Six Tonnes De Chair (Europe). We interviewed guitarist-vocalist Winnie McQuinn about the EP, climate change, the importance of acknowledging First Nations people, of being thoughtful and staying positive.
Sunfruits have a very ‘60s psych-garage-pop sound; how did you get into this style of music?
WINNIE: We’d all been fans of this style of music prior to coming together in Sunfruits through our parents’ record collections and all the great current bands that are playing music from that sphere. It feels like the genre is moving forward into something new and exciting whilst still keeping the style and roots in the vintage world.
Previously you’ve commented that Sunfruits “are all for a vintage sound with a new message”; what’s your message?
W: We love vintage 60s/70s sounds and aesthetics but are conscious of the fact that that era was full of problems including sexism, racism and conservative values that we aren’t about at all. We want to try and revive the aspects of that culture that we love without the old fashioned values that suck.
What’s something interesting you can tell me about each band member?
W: Gene our drummer has become a bit of a diva whenever we’re touring which we think is directly related to him downloading the astrology app The Pattern… it’s a scary one, proceed with caution. Our bassist Elena is a cryptic crossword queen, our guitarist Evie is the road trip playlist guru aka DJ Hydralyte and I’m angry about the lack of milk alternatives in rural town cafes/petrol stations.
How do Sunfruits’ songs form? Tell us a bit about your process, I’ve heard it can be quite relaxed and free-form/free-flowing.
There’s no particular pattern in which all our songs form but we try to keep it a pretty open process. Winnie will usually come with a basic structure and form which is then jammed with the band. We’re a big fan of stretching songs out when we play them live to give it a bit of a more fun and improvised feel compared to the recordings.
What was the idea behind your new EP title, Certified Organic?
W: We got the idea originally from the Mort Garson “Plantasia” reissue which came with download cards containing seeds that you could plant. I wanted to keep it in a similar vein to the songs and what they’re about and also it’s on a lot of products so the name is easy to remember.
Your first single “All I Want” was about society’s addictions to material possessions and consequences of consumerism; what sparked you off thinking about these kinds of things?
W: I got the idea for the lyrics after a good chat with my Mum – thanks mum – about consuming less and wanting to be more minimalist minded. I think everyone needs to think about how much they consume and what we all really need in life.
“Above The Clouds” is the second single from the EP out on Third Eye Stimuli Records and features French dialogue; what was the inspiration for this? Why did you decided to kick the EP off with this track?
W: Originally we we’re going to have “Sunfruits” as the opener but decided against it after some sound advice from Josh at Third Eye, thanks Josh. We think it kicks off the EP with a bang and sets the tone for the rest. The French monologue was a spur of the moment thing that sounded good, big shout out to Acacia’s sister Minnie for the great selection of words and delivering it with style.
Environmental themes come up in Sunfruits’ music, for example “Forest” talks to climate change; why is this an important topic for you?
W: It’s the biggest issue of our time and holds so many other issues under its umbrella. It’s always in the back of my mind so when it comes to writing lyrics I feel as though I can’t really write about anything else. It also feels cathartic to talk and write music about it as a way of doing something to help raise awareness and to combat it.
Tell us about the art for Certified Organic? Who did it?
W: The art was a collab between our very own Shelby, our label big dog Josh and good pal Luke. The main image is an illustration of a photo that our friend Ivy took at a music video shoot. They all did a great job and we’re super happy with it.
You acknowledged that your EP and all your music is made and recorded on Wurundjeri indigenous land of people from the Kulin nation and pay our respects to elders past present and emerging; why is this essential for you to do? As a First Nations woman myself, this means a lot.
W: We feel as though recognising and acknowledging the history of this country is so important. We want to try our best to support and fight for First Nations issues and rights. We are ultimately benefiting off of stolen land and the least people in the music world and bands can do is acknowledge that, realise our privileges and support First Nation issues and rights. It’s also super important to recognise that First Nations justice is climate justice as the two are inextricably linked.
Despite the serious issues the planet is facing that you sing about, I feel your music still inspires the listener to stay positive; what are some things you do to stay positive?
W: That’s exactly what we’re trying to do, inspire positivity and energy to act in the face of this existential crisis as that’s what we gotta do. Get involved in a sustainable activity no matter how big or small, it does wonders for your mental health and contributes to the fight against the climate crisis. A single action when multiplied by billions has a significant effect.
What bands have you been listening to lately?
W: We’ve been loving local heroes Eggy, Snowy band, Zoe Fox and The Rocket Clocks, Parsnip and also been diving into 70s disco pretty heavily as well.
What’s next for Sunfruits?
W: We’ve got some great shows coming up that we’re excited for, a new era has dawned in Sunfruits as well with Elena and Evie jumping on bass and guitar, we’re currently writing and recording an album which will hopefully be out early next year. Expect new music from that before the end of the year.