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Interview with Roy Sunak
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
It's very interesting when I think about it. My parents were those who encouraged me as a kid to study music, even though they were not musicians. My first instrument was the piano and after that they encouraged me to pick up another instrument. My first intution was the flute, but from some reason I didn't follow that intuition at the time. As a kid maybe I thought of it as “too girly”.
If I didn't do music, I probably would have become a veterinarian. I remember as a kid, it was already my passion back then. My love for animals, the connection with them, and helping them. In fact, that led me to study biology which is a fascinating subject by itself. Then I decided to go further with music. Once I finished the biological studies, I went to New York to study jazz.
The flute came to my hand when I went to India. This time in the form of wood, the Bansuri. An excellent connection with music and nature at the same time.
Sometimes people ask me about my view on the connection between music and biology. I can see clearly that both, artists and scientists, are very much alike, they both investigate their subjects thoroughly since these are limitless and very much alive.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I like doing sports, whether is Yoga asana, bouldering, kayaking, or swimming. I also like going dancing very much. Not necessarily a type of dancing, just moving freely with myself without being concerned how I move nor how it looks like. It makes me feel alive to maintain a healthy body.
Also, meditation is part of my daily life. As well, I like to read stories, poems, and sometimes Dharma books.
I like very much the connection with nature. In the summer I like to go hiking or swimming in the lake. The connection with animals is also very fulfilling. There was a time when I used to connect with a horse and had the opportunity to ride without a saddle. There was so much trust and a good connection with the horse. Unfortunately, lately, I don't have much time lately for that.
The way I see it, breaks are very important for what we do. By doing something else, it clears the mind and when I approach the music practice again, it lets me start with a fresh mind which is important for creativity. Many ideas actually also come when I do something else, so I record it with my phone to not forget it.
How long have you been making music?
I first studied keyboard/piano when I was round about 10. Two years later I picked up the trumpet and as a teenager I studied in Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts, where we actually learned for the first time how to make/create music. Since then, things come and go depending on the mood, creativity and life situation.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I am located in Berlin since 5 years, but I would deffinitely say that India has had major influence on my music. While I was living there, I dedicated myself not only to studying the instrument, but also to learn and to understand the Classical Hindustani Music. Studying in India was not only about the notes, it was about the general approach to music, and the approach to the raga. There is so much philosophy behind the music and the practice. Very much spiritual in a sense.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
There was that concert in a museum in Berlin. In that concert, I created a fairy tale story which connected the songs. I remember there were two women who were crying. After the concert they both (individually) approached and shared their experiences. That was very touching for me and made me very happy. This is the exact reason why I am doing music and it was right there at that moment.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I enjoy most of them. Every venue has its own vibes /energy and brings different moods. I'd say that no matter what kind of venue it is, I like to see music as no different from any other art. Meaning, painters show their work in galleries / museums. There is a good reason why it is not acceptable to eat or talk on the phone in a museum. It creates a space where the audience can approach the art better and more attentively without distractions. It creates a great space to allow the audience and the art to connect. As a musician, we don't need to play in museums, but venues which create this kind of atmosphere I like the most. I feel a better connection with the audience and I can see they feel the same.
I still have a wish to play with philharmonic orchestras to bring the sound of the Bansuri and its musical ornamentations into the classic halls. I think that could be a beautiful experience for the audience as well as for myself.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Wow, the list so long :) Nevertheless, I like very much to listen to Anouar Brahem these days. Sharing a stage with him would be magical.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
In both cases I would definitely say, don't be afraid to dare. Keep practicing and enjoy the process. Connect truly to the music and its essence. Yes, it is a very competitive area, but take it with your own rhythm.
Finding a good teacher/coach is super important. Someone who is also truly connected to music and knows what you need.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Tear In The River – In a way the song summarizes /collects many stories of the same-named album (and others which have not been recorded yet). It was a time when different stories/songs came up, but also many tears came with them. Musically, the song came as a process and built up in time. First came the bass line, then the melody and then the rest. So it was interesting how things built up.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
For the creativity, listening to music and contemplating on it. As part of the practice I like to take ideas which I like, investigate them and play with them. It's like a playground and sometimes trial and error until I find something that I like.
For the inspiration, both listening to others whom I like but also being in the nature inspires me a lot. There is so much sound in the silence and so much silence within the sound.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
Be patient, be compassionate and kind to yourself, and to others. Slow down, relax and enjoy life. By doing that raise your awareness and give much respect also to nature. We all know that, but we tend to forget with our busy lives.
Enjoy the connections with yourself, friends and family. Nothing lasts forever, so let's enjoy and appreciate the moment.
The idea behind bringing together different cultural instruments, as the Bansuri from India, Gayageum from Korea, piano, bass and so so, is to show that we are all connected.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I have an ongoing collaboration with local muscians in Berlin with the prospective to go on tour together in summer 23 or winter 23/24. From this, I am excited to share our newest content regularly on my profiles. Berliners are also welcome to visit my live concerts planned for December and the beginning of 2023. I am working on a pipeline for concerts and festivals to perform at next summer, both as a solo artist and in joint collaboration, so stay tuned.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Best is my website www.roysunak.com. I have a youtube channel in my name and also use Facebook and some instagram.