“I’m feeling really good about it… it feels like growth, which to me is all I ever want.” Orion Sun told me, a few weeks before the release of her latest EP ‘Getaway’. I caught Orion Sun on a good day, not just a good day - but in a good headspace. Deep in a positive wave, perhaps caused by things on the horizon - her EP is about to be released, and her birthday is coming up. She will be 26, so it feels to her like a new chapter in life, and beginnings are always exciting for her. “I'm so excited to be in the present” she tells me.
Orion Sun features in the latest issue of Tenner Magazine, the
'Voices of the Next Generation' issue.
Blending her graceful style of alt-R&B with jazzy hip-hop influences, Orion Sun’s music is warm and tender. The Philadelphia-based singer and producer has found acclaim with her honest and emotive songwriting and soothingly smooth vocals, the evolving elements of her delivery and production proves her vision is boundless. Orion Sun is paving her own pathway into the next generation of R&B, and for her - that is the only option. Intrigued by her fusion of styles, I kick off our wholesome conversation by asking which song she had a proper connection with.
“It’s difficult, you know. I love this question because it makes me think about the kinds of connections… I think the first time music has touched me…it would have to be multiple times, like I feel like there's not just one time. It's like there’s multiple firsts. It’s hard to pick which first I wanna talk about. I guess the first song that made me excited was when I was going to a funeral and… it was like gospel music. I heard it again outside of that context, and that was the first time it took me back to that moment, being in the back seat of the car and I just was like woah music is crazy, it’s insane. You can time travel, you can reminisce, you can learn, you can experience things you thought you never needed to. So I think there's a lot of firsts for me, but that's just one that I can remember.”
Now, Orion Sun has released her latest EP ‘Getaway’. The project ushers in a new chapter for Orion Sun, both sonically and personally. Her emotive and personal penmanship are apparent as she tells the story of her own journey of self-discovery through experiencing her community being plagued with police brutality and Covid simultaneously - a time where everyone had one thing on their mind, the world was a dangerous place to be. Written in quarantine, the project served as a form of escapism, Orion Sun yearning to get out and get away. While for the most part she has produced her music alone, this project was different - being the first time she worked alongside others for the core concepts.
“As an individual in isolation, doing my thing in my own world - I still treasure that to this day. Especially in terms of writing music, that is a very solitary thing for me. If I’m in my studio I’ll have my notebook of words that I’ve already written, or I’ll need a moment to myself to write in the studio. So that is still something that I keep close to me. But everything else is so much fun because I do have limitations with my skill set, you know? I want to continue to do things like that - having the opportunity to work with people, like OG’s in the game - that’s way more fun.”
“Plus, when I’m by myself, I can talk myself out of so many dope-ass melody’s, compared to when I’m in the studio and collaborating. It’s a really nice feeling to have someone when I’m overthinking, just trying to be in the moment and trying to catch a vibe. When someone says ‘oh wait that’s a good idea’ I can move onto the next step of the process. It’s not only faster, it’s also fun and I definitely learn more outside working with myself. I feel like that's the thing that I learn the most from working with myself.”
“Some days I feel like this is my purpose,
and that is the most rewarding thing"
With ‘Getaway’, I was hooked from track one, the slick rap-style beat bouncing underneath Orion Sun’s smooth vocals on the track ‘intro’ took me back to our conversation, where I asked the question “So, you’re a hip hop fan?” resulting in a grin from ear to ear. A true hip-hop fanatic instantly came out as she clapped her hands at the question.
“Oh yeah, to the core. Everything about it. The core of hip hop in my head is authenticity, just like being yourself. Like shit, you’re not gonna give me a platform, I'll make my own and this shit’s gonna be fire. Hip-hop is punk, punk is hip-hop, I love both of those interchangeably for the same reasons. Some things you can't sing out, you just have to shout, some things you just gotta say. It's different, and then you got the samples, just combining different histories, stories, and genres and then creating a new one - the list just goes on. It has to be one of the greatest genres, and it's one of the most open! Because I’ll be like tripping in RnB, I love it so much I’ll be trying to squeeze myself in there, like ‘Hi I'm RnB’ hahah, but it's mad tight. Hip hop is so inspiring too cause its like alright we got boom bap, we got trap, we got drill, we got abstract, experimental… it's just like wow come on, what other genre is that big?
Just feeding the monster more, I ask who her favourites are, if she had to pick a couple…
“Oh man… I mean, the obvious you know. Just know the greats are greats for a reason.
But let’s see, Earl really hits home for me, and MIKE. That whole scene is awesome. Let me think… there's just so many when I think about it, truly. I mean from the A$AP Mob crew, to Tyler, The Creator, to Boldy James. His vocal tone is one of my favorites in the game, hands down. He just has this steeze about him, he’s definitely one of my favourites for sure. I’m definitely a fan of Mac Miller, it breaks my heart… I wish I was able to meet him. Then even some left stuff; I was definitely into Lil Peep, Juice WRLD… I fuck with Playboi Carti, Trippie Redd. I love Lauren Hill, Lil Baby, Lil Durk. But that's just a few. I’m mad open, if shit is hot, then it’s just hot.”
She laughs, and tells me the first album she bought with her own money was Ye’s ‘808s and Heartbreak’ - a hip-hop staple. “I thought, I gotta get it. I thought even the marketing was so cool. I know the wording for it now, but at the time I was just like it looks so clean and hard, and the music was a combination and shit, it was so exciting to me - I was like I’m gonna spend my bread on this!” - a vast contrast to the first CD she says she was ‘allowed’ to have… “yeah my mom got it - it was Jordan Sparks first CD, the one that had ‘Tattoo’ and ‘No Air’, hahaha why did that slap so hard?! I was like ‘I wanna get a tattoo’, my mom was like ‘no you’re not!’”
Talking to Orion Sun felt warm and welcoming. She radiates an energy full of passion and tender kindness, so I was more than excited to ask her, what is the most rewarding part of music for you?
“Wow that’s a beautiful question, because I think it makes me realise there are a lot of rewards. Sometimes I can get stressed out or let life kind of block that, so thank you for asking that. The biggest one has to be is that I can live and do this shit, so the answer would be the support from people. I can’t really do anything else, and I’m saying I can't because it really is that dramatic… you know what I mean? It’s not like I will not do anything else, I’ve done other shit and I’ve been like I don’t want to be on this planet anymore because I need to be doing this. The fact that I can be doing this is the most rewarding thing. On some days I feel like this is my purpose, and that is the most rewarding thing, to be walking in your purpose and walking in that shit, because then you can start doing crazy shit – like manifesting things, or even helping out people that you love and connecting with so many people. That has to be the seed to a lot of the rewards that I’m grateful for too.”
“It’s such a blessing. Like, so many people put out music, we all go through the same stuff. So I’m just happy to have a little corner in this shit and just rock out!”