Los Angeles singer-songwriter Sunny War has a knack for blending blues, folk, soul and R&B with a real punk rock essence. As part of her tour in support of her new album Anarchist Gospel which came out on New West Records, she’s taking the stage with her backing band at Café Nine in New Haven on Sunday. Starting off the show at 8 p.m., is Hartford psych-folk act Lys Guillorn & The Void Kittens.
War and I talked ahead of the gig about working with a few different musicians on the album, having a fast-paced and organized recording process, performing in record stores and looking to perform across the Atlantic at some point this year.
RD: During the making of Anarchist Gospel, you collaborated with the likes of Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Allison Russell and David Rawlings among others. How were you able to get all these different artists involved?
SW: I met Jim James in L.A. because he volunteers with Food Not Bombs. We had done that together a few times and then I asked him about it because I told him that I was heading to Nashville to record. I just asked him if he would be down to sing on something and he said “Yeah”. Allison Russell I met at the Newport Folk Festival and then we did a couple shows together so I just asked her about it. Then the other ones like Dave Rawlings were through the label I’m on at New West Records because they knew him and I had an idea for one song that would be cool with him playing on it. Then he stayed for two more songs.
RD: How would you describe the experience of Anarchist Gospel’s recording process with Andrija Tokic? What was it like working with him on the record?
SW: I would say that it was really fast & organized because he really likes to plan anything out. Every day we already knew what we were going to do and what had to get done that day. Before even the band started recording we would listen to the demo and discuss how we wanted the session to go, I liked his style of being really organized and writing everything out.
RD: It sounds like a straightforward way of doing it. An interesting thing I saw with the cover art is that it has a similar blue and red color contrast like your previous album Simple Syrup but instead of cartoonish figures it’s two pictures of yourself. What made you want to keep that similar motif?
SW: It kind of represents the contrast of “sunny” and “war”, just because they’re opposites on the color spectrum. It also represents the duality of the two halves of a human, I guess. You’re good and you’re bad.
RD: That’s very true, we all have two sides of ourselves. On the day before the release of your new album, you and your band performed a record store gig at Rough Trade Records in New York City. When it comes to playing those types of shows, how different is it for you than performing at a venue? There’s not really any staging at a record store so you’re usually performing on a floor surrounded by vinyl records & CDs, so what is it like for you performing in that setting?
SW: It’s pretty comfortable for me because I always go to in-store shows at record stores. A lot of the first shows I ever went to in L.A. when I was 14 were at Amoeba Records because every time somebody was putting something out they would come play there. I saw the Violent Femmes like that and a couple other bands, so I think I just like the environment of a record store and it feels comfortable & intimate.
RD: I can see why that would be the case. After this run of shows that’s going on until May, what are your plans afterwards?
SW: Hopefully I’ll be playing some festivals and maybe try to get to London because my management has wanted me to go play Europe and stuff. I’ve only played there for the first time last summer, it was cool and it was interesting so I would like to do it again.
with Lys Guillorn & The Void Kittens
250 State Street, New Haven