Sun Uther Wahn is a rising force of Mississippi Ambient artistry. Sun defies the stereotypes of a southern musician breaking the mold of his 30 year history with blues, country and rock n roll. Sun’s embracing of his original loves of ambient and avent garde’ music is the start of a new vibe for the human tribe.
Entertwine: When did you get your start in music? What kind of musical background do you have that helped you develop as a musician?
Sun Uther Wahn: At the age of three I was banging on card board boxes and making up goofy songs. The first one was called The Coconut Song. All I remember was singing about coconuts falling on my head and trying to make the sound of coconuts falling by banging on the box with different sticks. By age five I had my first paid gig. I would take my toy guitar in the back yard and sing for the city workers while they cleared brush and fallen trees. They paid me a dime. I was hooked. At age six I discovered my grandfather’s stash of all kinds of crazy instruments: banjos, fiddles, steel guitars, harmonicas and a piano. I remember the smell, the feel and the awful sounds I generated trying to figure out how they worked. I guess they got tired of the racket and started giving me lessons. At the age of seven I fell in love with the piano and classical music. I later joined the junior high band playing tuba. I soon discovered more complex rhythms and new styles like jazz and avant garde.
I was enamored with the idea of creating music after listening to an interview with Rick Wakeman on the King Biscuit Flower Hour. About the same time, I discovered KISS, Rush and Pink Floyd. I was completely submerged into everything rock and roll from the simple to the complex. I believe my discovery of Brian Eno’s Another Green World was a game changer. This guy had an understanding of music on the quantum level before I knew what quantum was. My first piece written after his influence was an Avant Garde style piano piece called Seasons. I basically wrote the notes to mimic what I thought the different seasons looked like in sound. My public performance of this in small town Mississippi had very little applause and a lot of strange awkard looks. It did win the Mississippi State sponsored PTA contest for classical composistion in 1979. At the time I did not think much about it since I was after applause more than a proper musical education. How is that for an extra large nutshell?
ET: Who are some of your influences when it comes to writing and performing? Why?
SUW: Vangelis, Rick Wakeman, Claude Debussy, early Pink Floyd and Brian Eno are the first to come to mind. I love the big fat symphonic sounds of Vangelis. I remember listening to Rick Wakeman’s solo album Rhapsodies over and over and over. He turned me on to Gershin with his version of Rhapsody in Blue. Claude Debussy just takes me to another world with what, at the time, was a cutting edge way of writing and generating sounds. You know, the Impressionistic Era. Of Course Brian Eno just blew my mind with his use of sound generators, African Rhythms, Modern beats, etc etc…. I mean, come on, I believe Mr. Eno has probably had as much influence on modern music as the Beatles. I love John, Paul, George and Ringo, but Brian Eno’s musical DNA is EVERYWHERE whether it be subtle wisps of air to an Anvil dropping on a tin roof. We are talking Devo, the Majority of U2’s music, David Bowie the list goes on and on and he is still on the cutting edge with his latest works with new artists coming out. And He does all this without so much as a shadow of an ego. Yeah I’m biased to Eno.
ET: What was it like growing up in Mississippi? How did your local music scene and the deep southern influence shape your sound as your career progressed?
SUW: A lot of musicians growing up in Mississippi were probably labeled nerdy and slightly off kilter; especially if you were going to play rock n roll. Those who endured ended up as better people –
“Kumbaya”. The local music scene for rock and roll, especially more experimental types of music is really tough; at least in the areas I have lived. I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of great musican friends and won a few local battle of the band contest. But overall there are just not a lot of venues for local artist, unless you are country. I live in Meridian, MS, the home of Jimmie Rodgers (the father of country music)
I have a lot of respect for that genre and its players. (My grandfather had a country band that performed live music on the local radio station, WMOX, in the 1950s on a reguar basis), but there is not a lot of encouragment for much outside of the country genre. About 20 years ago my metal band decided to enter the annual Jimmie Rodgers country festival music contest. We entered as a band called Atomic Rooster. We wrote a Pearl Jam type/country hybrid song about a love gone wrong. Our drummer was Choctaw and wore a t shirt that said “all my hero’s killed cowboys” (this is at country music festival mind you). There were 100 participants that year, we were announced as 106.!!! I have dabbled in a few country music bands. I had the privilege of playing keys with the Legendary House Rockers from Mississippi a world famous blues club in Jackson MS. The Subway gave venue to legends like Muddy Water’s, Howling Wolf and Robert Johnson.
With all of that behind me, to be honest. I would prefer the Multiverse be my primary influence on the music generated from my spirit. Ambient and avante garde are how I can best convey this. I hope that makes some simblence of coherence.
ET: How does your music and your sound stand out from the rest in your genre?
SUW: My music will always be amorphic, a work in progress, but laced with common threads. I like using sub harmonic tones that can only be heard with really good headphones or sub speakers. There are a lot of spiritual themes. Melodies from hymns, and obscure phrases from ancient Holy books. Themes of ebb and flow that come from my own imprinting as a sentient being. Some pieces are designed to relax the listener; some are designed to enhance certain states of consciousness. A good overall description of my music in my opinion would be “amorphic ambience” Are you good and de-focused now?
ET: In your style you meld lots of ambient elements and as you say, avent garde’ styles – what made you decide this and what is it that you like about it so much?
SUW: It just matches my spirit. The more I study meta physics and quantum physics I see the multi-verse as organized and fractal and ambient all at the same time. To me the multiverse is an Avant Garde’ organism. It generates its own ambience.
ET: What is your main message or feeling you strive to get across to your listeners?
SUW: That is the easiest question so far. The message: “take your world outside of your box, expand your conscienceness, SEE THE BIG PICTURE”.
“I want to generate a new vibe for the human tribe” (it’s really an old vibe we have lost)
ET: Which song would you say best encapsulates your sound off your latest release?
SUW: From Jedi Mind Music, I would say that the Odann Urr Mantra (the Jedi Code) would sum things up pretty well. I know the Force is based off of a mythological religion from one of the most awesome movie series ever made, but there are some universal truths in the Jedi Code. Some truths that are way larger than what our finite minds can comprehend. One of the great things about the human creature is the potential for expansion.
ET: What are you currently working on music-wise for the future? What do you do in your spare time when you aren’t writing or performing?
SUW: Well I am working on a live show with limited performances utilizing drum circles to bring people together. I am always recording. I am currently focusing on Mind Sound Technology combining mantras, meditations, and hymns studying the ancient names of God. Who knows what the end product will be. I’m sure there will be lots of Aaahss and Ohmmms and glitchtes and pops!!
My spare time is spent growing as a human with my friends and family, studying science, new technologies, religions, philosphy and ancient musical tools.
ET: What are your future plans for the rest of 2014? What can listeners expect?
SUW: I plan to do at least four concerts this year supporting Jedi Mind Music with a few shows available online. I am pitching my music to a few indie film makers, throwing lines all over the universe.
Also working a few early, Syd Barret era, Pink Floyd covers for free online release. I might even release a song or two with words again. I guess you could say my listeners should expect antici………………….pation.
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