Sunday (1994) on Love, Dark Humor, and Leaps of Faith | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, June 14th, 2024  

Sunday (1994) on Love, Dark Humor, and Leaps of Faith

Aesthetics vs. Ascetics

Apr 30, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Sunday (1994) recently made waves with their stunning debut single, “Tired Boy.” Not only does the single resonate like a lost classic, but the band also arrived with a fully formed visual aesthetic. Combining confessional lyrics, chiming guitar flourishes, and bittersweet melodies laced with knowing dark humor (they even manage to make erectile dysfunction sound almost romantic), Sunday (1994) emerged as a band capable of reaching back and touching fingers with the past while infusing their music with a fresh contemporary twist. Founded around the creative nucleus of Englishman in L.A, Lee Newell, and American Paige Turner, they began crafting music in their one-bedroom apartment and releasing it on TikTok, as Newell explained in the press release, “to finally see if we were criminally insane or if indeed these songs could mean something to someone. Instantly, we had thousands of views and people begging us to release them. We picked our jaws up off the floor and got to work.”

“Paige and I met 10 years ago at a concert in LA,” Newell reveals in an interview with Under the Radar, “and we’ve been joined at the hip ever since. We know each other so well, have been dating for 10 years, and we’ve always been involved in music in one form or another.” The couple eked out a creative living writing music for other people, creating syncs, as well as designing artwork for other artists. And then they began to write for themselves, partly for their own amusement, partly out of boredom, and also, one imagines, to keep the creative juices flowing. “I know it sounds like a cliché, but these songs really were just for us, we originally had no plan to release them,” Newell explains.

But the couple found that the music they had written was imbued with more than a sprinkling of magic. Turner, who comes from a musically inclined family, says, “Even my family liked it and they don’t think anything’s good,” she laughs. “I did have a friend in the UK who works in PR,” Newell adds, “and to get another opinion I sent the songs to him. The response was positive; he said ‘These are really good, you need to release them.’”

“When we originally wrote these songs there was no pressure to do anything, so we could come from a purely instinctive creative point of view,” adds Newell. “And we began thinking, ‘What would our perfect band sound and look like?’ The overall visual aesthetic was important to us too; we wanted to kind of look like how the band sounded.”

Turner agrees, “When we came to record the songs we started to take it much more seriously.” The couple began to create a visual narrative around the music, one filled with a kind of faded, wistful cinematic glamour that fitted their sound perfectly. They designed everything themselves from the photography to the videos, which Newell filmed on Super 8.

“Doing everything yourself can be a blessing and a curse,” reveals Turner, “but we are huge fans of movies, art, and fashion, and we know that people can often judge you before hearing any of the music, and we’ve learned a bunch of new skills doing it that way.”

It was also out of necessity, laughs Newall. “I mean, we don’t have a ‘team’ and so you end up wearing lots of different hats. But it seems to have been working as we’ve now had labels approach us, which was previously an alien concept!”

The TikTok effect can be overstated, but it certainly hasn’t done the duo any harm. “Right now in music, it seems you have to be on platforms like TikTok, and of course, there are pros and cons,” says Turner. “But it gave us a fanbase pretty quickly and we could gauge the reaction for the two songs we did want to put out, which was hugely positive. We really didn’t want to put out a song that nobody listened to. So we owned the music, we saw new bands doing it, and thought, ‘Fuck it, let’s just do it.’” Newell, who admits to being a private person at heart, was a little more reticent initially. “I didn’t want to give too much away but then I thought, ‘If I don’t—what’s the point?’ You have to put yourself out there even if it is a bit scary.”

Obviously, as a couple, there is a bond that goes deeper than music, and talking to Newell and Turner, you get a sense of the mutual trust they have in each other’s creativity. It was when Turner played a few lines of “Tired Boy” that things really started to come into focus. “That song came surprisingly easy to us, and we thought, ‘Oh maybe we have something here.’ And the key suited my voice. Trust me, I’ve sung all sorts of different songs over the years and my voice doesn’t always sound like that,” Turner laughs, “but yes, the stars sort of started to align with that song.”

The mutual admiration Newell and Turner have for each other is touching, and it’s easy to see how their songs genuinely come directly from the heart. Despite having built a world around the Sunday (1994) aesthetic, their music is rooted in the reality of their own experiences. “I just love listening to Paige sing,” Newell enthuses. “You know when you hear some singers and you don’t really believe them? But with Paige, she believes it. I mean, I know these songs are based on our own experiences, but still…”

Turner agrees, “Yeah, we both come from completely different worlds, so it’s really interesting to sing one of Lee’s songs, to sing the words written about his experiences in the UK.”

Another song that is pivotal to Sunday (1994) is the not-yet-released “The Loneliness of the Long Flight Home.” It’s a beautiful shimmering evocative number that, as you might gather from the title, is about a long-distance romance. It’s also hugely relatable. “I wrote a version of that song when we first got together,” affirms Newell. “I had to leave the U.S. and was just so in love I didn’t know what to do, and so, without sounding too corny I wrote a song, which was originally called ‘Los Angeles.’ It’s taken on a number of iterations over time.”

“Yeah, that’s another song that certainly helped mould our sonic world,” adds Turner.

Certainly, the imagery created around the music suggests a nostalgic, almost cinematic quality. In a recent press release, Newell is quoted as saying—“our biopic would be Dumb and Dumber directed by Federico Fellini.”

“And that,” laughs Newell, “is the wankiest thing I’ve ever said. I mean when we wrote our songs we weren’t going for any aesthetic, it just kind of came out and we thought actually, these are quite cinematic, like we had a kind of John Hughes vibe. In terms of influences, I’d love to have said Chinatown or Goodfellas, but maybe we are soppy romantics at heart.”

“But I do think there is a darker undertone that comes through,” adds Turner. “We are definitely not rom-com people, we’ve both had our own struggles in the past and perhaps that comes through, there is certainly an undercurrent of melancholia in there although they are hopeful.”

Their second single, “Stained Glass Window,” is another true story, and contains the memorable lyric, “I took some pictures of me and you and I super-glued them over scriptures, so I could worship something true,” but rather than go into detail Newell would prefer if “people make their own mind up about it,” before adding, “I will say it’s a personal story about a religious upbringing that kept two people apart.” The artwork is equally ambiguous, showing scuffed knees which could result from… “Exactly,” says Newell, “that’s it, is it from kneeling? Praying?… Is it sexual?”

The band will be releasing their self-titled debut EP this Friday and there will be live dates, which could also feature their enigmatic live drummer simply known as “x.”

“Paige and I write everything, and we can almost read each other’s minds but we thought it important to have another voice in the room to offer an opinion,” says Newell of “x,” “He also looks cool as fuck!”

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