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Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band R&B Soul




"Getting to know: On The Sun, Collaborative Brooklyn Soul"

DC: Yes. I think that’s something that we all enjoy a lot. We like produced music, and let’s face it – in 2015, most of the music that you’re hearing is made in a computer and put out into the world. A lot of the people you’re hearing on those records recorded their parts separately, were never in the same room together. And I think that’s something we’re not necessarily against, but that we’re not used to. We’re used to playing in live bands and making music with other people, human interaction.

MG: That’s the fun part right?

L4LM: How have you found it building a following?

MG: We have a pretty dedicated core group who makes up our following. We raised around $19,000 in our kickstarter in one month. The fan base we’ve generated up until this point began as a group of our friends, collaborators and has grown through word of mouth. We’re not necessarily social media experts and are just beginning to play that game in a meaningful way. It can be difficult to leverage that sort of thing in a way that gets your art attention but isn’t obnoxious and shallow. We’re all a couple of years older than an age when it would be cool for us to love being on social media all the time.

DC: We’re focused on the music. Up until fairly recently with this record release, we’ve been working on who we want to be as a group. Stephanie Layton (one half of the band’s back-up singing duo, along with sister Susanne) does all our graphic design, Janelle Reichman (the band’s saxophonist) does all our website coding. Matt and Yan are extremely skilled with recording and production.

L4LM: How do you stay motivated to keep performing?

DC: That’s easy. The hard part is to keep up with the promoting. Matt and I early on noticed bands that would be playing the same songs a year later that we saw them play before. We made a pact to not get caught in that spiral. It’s easy to keep playing what’s trusted and true, too easy. There’s also a whole other record of material. We have many other songs that may never get released, we have so much stuff.

Adam Bohanan (vocalist): I get this anxiety too, with age, where I realize I can’t suddenly just switch pursuits.

MG: Yeah well, it’s fucking too late to do anything else now, we’ve committed. We gotta make this work.

YF: We created our sound on stage, through live performance. If someone saw us last month perform, we have to give them a reason to want to come see us again the next month. So okay, the songs will be changing, the arrangements will be different.

DC: There are some of our fans that are disappointed about songs we no longer play. These are songs though, that we’re not as connected to anymore.

MG: If you don’t have an emotional connection to it, you can’t play it anymore. The connection can change over time, but there has to be one, you have to be able to grab onto the material in some way.

L4LM: Can you talk a bit about your influences? There’s kind of a funk sound going on, a Bobby Womack guitar sound. Were you listening to certain records while you were working on this album material?

MG: If we’re talking about influences today, I think to a large extent D’Angelo is an influence. He’s doing soul music, rock music, and funk music, in a way that is true to its roots but is modern. We’re not trying to directly emulate his sound, but he is inspirational to us. I think we aspire to articulate our vision that well.

DC: A lot of the ensemble elements that we’ve built this band around come from slightly older styles, like Parliament Funkadelic, Sly and the Family Stone, Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Earth Wind and Fire. The Band, any group that had a lot of different vocals going on with different instruments, a groove element to it. You don’t see that as much anymore, so in terms of modern influences it’s about sound design. These large 70s groups, we love that sound. But as Matt said, we like modern sounds a lot and are interested in doing a new version of an old sound.

MG: It’s about relevancy and honesty. It’s a different world – what connects people to style and writing is different from what it used to be. Rawness and directness are appreciated. Articulated music in a relevant way that speaks to us.

DC: We want to be present and talking about now, playing music that represents that. The intention of this group is not to just to reproduce old sounds.

L4LM: Do you find yourselves influenced by jazz a lot? Like jazz-rock - I picked up on a Steely Dan thing going on, not lyrics-wise though. But there’s definitely a sophisticated sound here.

YF: I think we’re very influenced by the musicianship of jazz, and most of us have backgrounds as jazz musicians.

L4LM: A lot of the songs’ chord changes sound jazzy; they’re interesting and unpredictable, rather than typical rock-pop stuff.

DC: Yeah absolutely. The harmony that we use is very jazzy. But also I would say ultimately that we’re jazzy in the way Motown is jazzy, in the way that Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye and R&B and funk and soul music are inherently jazzy. All of those Motown records, the Funk Brothers, they were jazz musicians that created all that stuff. And so there’s a lot of jazz in the music that we’re tied to as a band. And sure, Steely Dan is a band that we have listened to and I know that it seeps in.

MG: It does, it absolutely does. We can’t sell out on that, we definitely listen to a lot of Steely Dan. That’s real.

L4LM: Something I really like is that you alternate a lead singer, alternate who’s taking over the song. I love bands that do that, because it can get really boring with just one lead singer. I think it emphasizes your collaborative vibe as well. Adam, you’re a lead singer, correct?

AB: Yeah. Well, the way that we basically make it happen is we’ll bring a song to the band, normally it’s like something I or Dylan will have worked on either separately or together, and we’ll bring it to the band, and whatever voice sounds best with it, will be the one who sings it.

DC: That’s something I really love about this band and having Adam involved, he’s a much more accomplished singer than I am. He’s got a very different range than I do and a lot of times I’ve got songs in my mind that I want to be a certain way but can’t actually sing convincingly. Having Adam there really freed those constraints up.

YF: There’s so much vocal talent, it’s hard to actually use it all.

DC: In general I think that’s kind of true of us. I think we’ve done a good job with this record in terms of having elements of all this talent, and we’re still on this path of trying to find, how do we write stuff or this group where everybody’s best is always there, or at least where we have a number of pieces within the set where everyone gets to showcase their best thing. It’s really fun to write for.

L4LM: Are there designated writers in the band, or do all the members write material?

DC: Basically Adam and I are the more traditional songwriters, in the sense where we’ll sit down with a guitar, come up with some chords, verses and a chorus, and then go to the band with the song.

AB: Bringing the songs to the band completely changes them and makes them so much better. Especially with Yan and Matt.

DC: I think that Yan and Matt are huge contributors in that way. When it comes to songs that Adam and I have more or less completed, these guys are amazing at taking them and changing the grooves or the time signatures. They kind of assume producer roles at those times.

L4LM: That’s cool that you’re able to do that, to give your work over to someone else and allow him or her to reshape it.

YF: I think that goes back to what Matt was saying before, what we’ve striven for and arrived at is the pursuit of a collaborative process as much as possible, everyone puts their sensibilities in there. I definitely don’t consider myself a songwriter, I might help with rearranging, harmonizing, changing certain aspects of the music.

MG: It’s empowering for nontraditional writers in general.

L4LM: Was there a discussion amongst you guys as to what your artistic goals would be? You kind of touched on that before, but did you lay it out before you really got going?

YF: I think it happened over time as we narrowed our focus to one overarching sound.

MG: One thing I think we have built a consensus around is just structurally, the idea that we have built a process around trying to utilize everybody’s talents. What they’re best at. And that we would be committed to live performance and live interaction.

DC: I think the genre of soul gave us more of a narrower window through which to create. Rather than, “Hey, we can literally do anything!”

L4LM: Yeah, that can be dangerous. Do you know what your next project is going to be? Have you written any new material since the record release?

MG: We’re just getting started with the cycle of releasing a record, the aftermath of that, and then getting the next going. We want to stay committed to our process. I want to do a 45.

DC: We have this record out and we are absolutely working on new material. We’re already performing three or four songs that are not on the record right now. I think that’s part of our thing; we get bored with stuff pretty quick.

MG: We want to be as in control of the content and creation as we possibly can, and we want to keep generating content at a fast pace. We’re getting better all the time. We don’t want to be stagnant. - Live for Live Music

"Sofar Sounds NYC review by Kinofilia Arts Blog"

On The Sun closed the night. The eight-piece cast of cool characters graced the stage. It no longer felt like Sunday, and Monday felt very far away. When you watch this band, it doesn’t feel like you’re watching, but rather that you’re part of the group. The players are laughing and chatting with each other on stage. They’re all just good friends, and you feel like their friend too. A badass gal on the sax, two bohemian back-up vocalists, two electrifying lead vocalists, and a keyboardist, bass player, and drummer that feel the music hard.

The instrumentation is funky and jazz inspired, the vocals are passionately R & B and sometimes electrifyingly pop. Their first song began with striking vocals from Adam Bohanan. Singing is a physical process for Adam- witnessing a person’s body shake with the feelings of what he is expressing. That’s Adam Bohanan. That is what I saw when he started the set off with “I’ve been taking you for granted…But you can make it on your own. You’re just a heart without a home.”

On The Sun’s second song showed the band’s softer side. The electric guitar was melodic with laid back saxophone motifs setting the mood. The guitar solos reverberated creating ambient space within the instrumentation. And though the bridge starts out quiet, it builds into a four-part harmony repeating “I’ll be back at the end of the day” while Bohanan belts it out. The saxophone follows suit as the drums intensify with brushes, the guitar returns to its solo, and the keyboard maintains the ambient feels as the song fades out.
On The Sun

The band’s third song was my favorite of their set. It began with the keyboard playing full ambient chords while the guitar used high-pitched picking to give the foundation of the song a pop alternative feel. Layered on top were R&B and pop styled vocals. The mélange of vocals and lyrics such as “What about love, what about trust, don’t we understand” felt reminiscent of Bob Marley.

During the majority of the song, guitarist/vocalist, Dylan Charles, sang the bass line while Adam sung high, and the girls harmonized in the background. The lyrics were simple and the vocals also subtle, giving the song a very minimalist feel. Just as the vocals stop and the instrumentation fades away, the audience thinks the song is over.

And surprise, the band returns as lively as it could get. The band comes home to its truth. The drums and bass kick in, the guitar is strumming distorted power chords, and the vocals intensify in volume. Drumsticks are now being used and the rhythm is incorporating more cymbals. And of course, the song would not be complete without an epic sax solo. The whole band is dancing and admiring saxophonist, Janelle Reichman, bring it on home.

As a collaborative writing group, each member of the band contributes to the songwriting in some way.

The band’s fourth song was a great ending to the night. The guitar plays a low bass line complementing the keyboard’s high-pitched melody and strong drums. “It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it. I wish I could say it’s going to get easier. It’s going to be the same shit again and again,” Dylan Charles sings. Again, it’s a physical performance. He plays and sings like he knows what he’s singing to the bone. The dreamy bohemian backup vocalists, Stephanie Layton and Susanne Layton, swaying freely on the stage, add the vibes as well as the sweet high harmonies.

On The Sun feels the music. Every note they play, they live it. Whereas Morningsiders and Mikaela Davis help you transcend the confines of the concrete jungle through their music, On The Sun freezes time and makes you forget that you have to go to work in less than twelve hours. If not already indicative in the name, that is the real spirit of Sofar Sounds- feeling far away so up close. - Kinofilia


Still working on that hot first release.



On The Sun is a live band based in Brooklyn, NY creating original music influenced by soul, rock, funk, americana and psychedelia.  With all members contributing as writers, arrangers, and/or producers, the group's collaborative process yields frequent new material and their new single is scheduled for release in March.  They have played iconic NYC venues such as Mercury Lounge, Knitting Factory, and Rockwood Music Hall, and have toured east coast cities as well as markets in the midwest, southwest and west coast.

" On The Sun feels the music. Every note they play, they live it. [...] When you watch this band, it doesn’t feel like you’re watching, but rather that you’re part of the group."

-Kinofilia Arts Blog review of Sofar Sounds NYC Performance

Band Members

Adam Bohanan - Vocals

Dylan Charles - Vocals, Guitar

Matt Gilmartin - Bass, Vocals

Yan Falmagne - Keys

Seth Faulk - Drums, Vocals

Band Members