Sunflower Bean
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Sunflower Bean

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Rock Psychedelic


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One of the most promising young bands is Sunflower Bean, who turned heads this summer on the strength of just three singles. Enough so that we gave 'em the cover.

Pg 37 - Feature Cover Story

"Even if rock 'n' roll's been declared dead for the millionth time since the new millennium, psych-trio Sunflower Bean don't pay it any mind. At least that's what guitarist Nick Kivlen says.

Just out of high school, the band downplays their ambition (Kivlen: 'Nobody wants to be a rock star anymore'), and their determination ('The popular counter-culture is all about EDM and shit'). But in truth, they live and breath rock 'n' roll." - The Deli Magazine (Issue #40)

Brooklyn trio Sunflower Bean have yet to release a formal album, though we have heard the sprawling psychedelia of singles like “Bread” and “Tame Impala“. Now, the band has unveiled its video for the latter, and unlike earlier visual accompaniments, the NYLON-produced fever dream is anything but homemade. That said, the video still has the band’s surreal “night music” fingerprints all over it. Rather than try to explain the video’s meaning, here is a list of images and symbols that you can analyze yourself instead, ranked from most to least psychedelic. - Impose Magazine

When I first heard of Sunflower Bean, I was convinced they were some major label fake-indie-band conspiracy. Three hyper photogenic, perfectly styled teenagers from Brooklyn? With a Heidi Slimane seal of approval? Sure. Show me the receipt.

Allegedly: Nick (guitar+ vocals) + Jacob (drums) are from Long Island and went to high school together. After graduating in 2013, they got tired of playing in their parents basements and moved to Brooklyn. Then they met Julia — ex Supercute!, model for basically all our favorite brands (Lazy Oaf, Opening Ceremony, and oh you know, YSL) — and Sunflower Bean happened. Together, they make gloomy, psychedelic pop that’s studied (there’s Neu!, a little Sleep, tons of Led Zepplin) but somehow not archaic. Julia’s called it ‘neo psychedelic for the digital age,’ and I think that’s pretty perfect.

Collaborating on the video for their new single Tame Impala (which dropped last month on Interview) was a dream. It’s super rare to find a band that [entirely] shares the same aesthetic references, and when it aligns perfectly with yours, its really magical.

Basically, we’re so psyched on this video (#2 in our new music video series!) and can’t wait to show you on Tuesday. In the meantime, here’s some GIFs. And their Bandcamp.


Blair - NYLON Magazine

Fun fact: I first invented "Grrrl Talk" in the very beginning of this year on my personal Instagram as a way for my followers to ask me beauty-related questions, and for me to answer candidly. Soon, I expanded it to I thought about it more: I noticed there was a lack of beauty features online and in-book with girls in bands. I wanted to know what kind of eyeliner Shannon Shaw (of Shannon & The Clams and Hunx & His Punx) wore, what Colleen Green's skincare tips were, and I wanted to reach out to other amazing (and often overlooked) female musicians to see what they had to say on the topic. So I christened the Grrrl Talk feature with Lowell, who came by the office and I snapped polaroids of her and all of her weirdness (if you haven't listened to I Killed Sara V., please go do that right now). Since then, I've done Grrrl Talk features with Tori Amos, Shannon Shaw, La Sera, Niia, Peach Kelli Pop, Izzy from Hunters, Colleen Green, and Hannah Uribe from Cherry Glazerr--and I have so many other amazing female musicians lined up to be featured, so stay tuned!

Anyway, I decided to expand the feature and have it make its debut in our October 2014 issue. So I enlisted Clementine Creevy from Cherry Glazerr and Julia Cumming from Sunflower Bean to be featured. Turns out they have a lot in common: Besides being best friends, they're both just average teenage girls, who just so happen to be in two incredible bands. So I had them interview each other on beauty, fashion, feminism, music, and everything in-between. I am so happy with how this feature turned out, and I can't wait for more Grrrl Talk features online and in-book!

(Go listen to: Cherry Glazerr "Haxel Princess" and Sunflower Bean "Tame Impala", like right now.)

Check out our October issue for the entire feature. - NYLON Magazine

IN PRINT : "Nick Cave. Man. Myth" Issue (pg. 23)

"This guitar-loving New York trio are only teens, but draw their influences from a wide net. It's evident on their self-titled debut EP, a blend of gothic sludge, Sonic Youth mysticism and, most conspicuously, dark neo-psychedelia. There's even a track called 'Tame Impala'. It's not all gloom, though, and over jangling post punk, their Snapchat-heavy video for '2013' features voodoo larks and webcam shenanigans, all recorded on their iPhones." - NME Magazine

Sunflower Bean - "Tame Impala"

Julia Cumming's short-fuse vox hopscotch over lo-fi psyche sludge and feedback in this five-minute-plus tune that will make even the soberest among us feel hung over and paranoid about the unsavory things we must have done or said during its duration but can't remember. - NYLON Magazine

In a Brooklyn sea of dream-pop and indie-rock, Sunflower Bean wants to bring back some good, old-fashioned rock-'n'-roll. The trio—comprised of Julia Cumming (also a runway model), Nick Kivlen, and Jacob Farber—have taken it upon themselves to make up their own version of rock-'n'-roll for the digital age. Drawing from lo-fi sounds and dark rock and psychedelic undertones, Sunflower Bean's music is not as delicate as the band's name might lead you to believe: it's sultry and hypnotic.

Sunflower Bean's EP Rock & Roll Heathen will make its debut this fall, but in the meantime, the band has been touring New York and currently the West Coast. We're excited to premiere "Tame Impala," an invigorating rock track from Sunflower Bean's upcoming EP that serves as an ode to the band Tame Impala, which Sunflower Bean sees as a modern-day Led Zeppelin (fittingly, Tame Impala itself has a song named "Led Zeppelin").

We caught up with the members of Sunflower Bean at the Hudson Music Project this year about the anti-rock-'n'-roll Brooklyn music scene, writing a concept album, and their admiration for Mac DeMarco. - Interview Magazine

Bushwick-based teen musician and model Julia Cumming is one to watch. Fresh out of high school and already taking the city by storm, her band Sunflower Bean play Baby’s All Right tomorrow night!

Peppered with cheerful reminders of utilities due dates, chalk-drawn cartoons and VHS tapes of Spice World, Saint Laurent model and Sunflower Bean bassist Julia Cumming’s Bushwick loft is as bright and friendly as the girl herself. Within five minutes of pouring me a homebrewed cup of Dunkin Donuts hazelnut coffee (the stuff of immediate spiritual connection) and offering to show me the guitar-printed dress her mom made, Julia had me under a spell. Articulate and contemplative, she pauses our interview only to say a friendly good morning to her roommates who have just made the perilous voyage out of bed. Whether taking style cues from space age Muppets or worshiping glam rock gods, it’s all weird, wonderful, and most importantly, genuine in Julia’s world

Tell me about your bands Supercute! and Sunflower Bean.

Supercute! was the first band I was involved with. It was with my longtime friend Rachel Trachtenburg; I joined that band when I was 14 and she was 16. It was Rachel’s baby, but it ended up as a partnership. We did cool things, we were given a lot of different opportunities. It taught me about the music industry and helped me be more responsible. We had a lot of ambition and we were trying to do something, but both Rachel and I are multifaceted people. So after a long friendship and a lot of different things we wanted to do, it didn’t really make sense anymore.

Sunflower Bean happened as that project was ending for me. I was good friends with Nick and Jacob who were looking for a bass player and so things fell into place suddenly. I was lookng to explore a different sound, because the two [bands] are pretty opposite.

How would you describe Sunflower Bean’s sound?

We used to call it “neo-psychedelia for the digital age”, and now we’ve just been calling it “night music,” however someone may take that. It’s like if Black Sabbath mixed with The Smiths, maybe?

Fashion and music have always been pals, and no one knows this better than Hedi Slimane. Can you tell us about your involvement with Saint Laurent?

Especially in Supercute! since we were all girls, there was always a bit of this fashion orientation. I’ve always been someone who liked clothes a lot; my mom sews a ton and it’s always been another creative outlet for us. In Supercute! we used to sew our own costumes, we made all this crazy shit! For one tour, we made these big skirts out of multicolored fake fur and lame with giant fur collars. We looked like aliens from a movie about space where everything was made of tinfoil.

Through that, I started getting more seriously involved in fashion. Modelling can be an expression. I don’t think it always is, but it can certainly feel like you’re making art when you’re doing it. It’s not something that should be looked down upon. As with everything that happened with Supercute! I got lucky with Saint Laurent as well. We stay pretty tight with the Saint Laurent family!

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned over the years as a musician?

One of the most dangerous things that can happen as a musician in 2014 is to lose sight of the music. There are so many ways of self promotion - so many different pressures that you put on yourself and are put on you by everyone: to be the best at social media, the best at emails, to always be moving. You spend all this time doing that stuff, and sometimes you can actually stray from what you’re trying to do in the first place, which was make music. What I’ve learned is the simplest thing: stick to what you were trying to do. - i-D Magazine

If you’ve been waiting for a defining moment in modern rock and roll, someone to bring it up to speed with the current “indie” ethos without meddling with its stripped down power, look no further. Sunflower Bean has arrived. If their recent releases and scarily entrancing set at Union Pool last Sunday are any indicators of what’s to come, they are rock icons in the making. Armed with an infectiously charming coolkid stage presence and an eclectic buffet of low-fi influences that spans the past five decades as well as the current one, the group has a striking sound that bridges the gritty musicianship of the old school and the sonic texture oriented, forward-looking-but-retro new school.

The trademark staples of the power trio’s sonic stylings were established most powerfully in their opening number, “Creation Myth,” and later again, in the delightfully cerebral “2013.” Both songs featured tag team vocals from guitarist Nick Kivlen, whose strained vox were filled with drony, emotive personality, and from bassist Julia Cumming, whose breathy, detached, and slightly eerie voice calls to minds such 60s sirens as Nico and Francoise Hardy. There were uptempo, desert rock drums from Jacob Faber, which primarily consisted of a controlled, chaotic beating of floor tom and crash cymbal. There was light funk from Cumming’s simple but charming basslines; and there was a wicked mastery of all things guitar–melody composition, shredding chops, and pedalwork–from Kivlen, who borrows heavily from the infectious summertime riffs of surf rock and the twangy blue effects of shoegaze.

And a whoooole lot of reverb. On everything. Reverb, reverb, reverb. Gootttta love the reverb.

These moving pieces might sound messy on paper, but they are remarkably succinct in Sunflower Bean’s music, coalescing to form a tight gothic psychedelia. Even more remarkable than this cohesion, though, is that the band was able to employ wildly varying timbres and song structures while staying within the confines of their own idiosyncrasies. They played to a wide spectrum of moods, from sludgy to fuzzy to melancholy to ethereal to psychotic, and on several occasions, experimented with a variety of tempos within the same song.

Their diversity was sewn together by clever melodies, which, and I cannot stress this enough, were intelligently crafted but never to the point of getting in the way of rocking out. With the wealth of experimental bands in the NYC mix, it was very refreshing to hear a band that pulls from a similar well of influences, but whose main goal is to create cut and dry rock ’n’ roll music. Laced with reverb. On everything. Reverb, reverb, reverb. Gootttta love the reverb.

"Tame Impala,” for instance, utilizes the same basic elements as the songs that came before it, but it’s a ball breaking, mother fucking, dirty backstabbing rock epic, featuring wild screaming vocals from Cumming and Kivlen, and virtuoso solos from the latter. In addition to its ballsiness, the song contained a slew of highly intricate features: a long, slow, funky break down; a series of delicately crafted and distinct melodies; elaborate guitar effects; and pronounced shifts in pacing. The song was so fucking good that it forced me into a.) asking everyone around me if they knew–”HEY! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE NAME OF THIS SONG IS?!” b.) letting my hair down out of a bun so I could watch it shake shake shake as I bang bang banged my head, and c.) completely reconceptualizing my understanding of the band’s image and sound.

Having the capacity to incorporate so many different sounds in one song and changing them up again from song to song–and not getting lost in the process–requires very strong, distinct personality. Indeed, the band’s striking but subtle poise is what perhaps impressed me most about the young trio. Cumming and Kivlen are like the same side of a posterchild coolkid coin. They share an understated vintage style, both are tall, lanky, and imposing in stature, and both project their charmingly distant musical personalities with an unassuming demeanor. Meanwhile, the mustachioed Faber eagerly backs them with bravado, a backwards hat, and a ponytail, punishing his poor drum kit until his high hat nearly gave out. In fact, it almost did amidst their 8-minute long closing jam.

The most enduring acts in rock, past and present, have achieved their iconic status in one of two major ways. The first is by creating an entirely new sonic world that leaves its imprint on your brain by virtue of its wild innovation. The Talking Heads, for instance, fusing worlds of art rock and old school funk for the first time. The second path relies not so much on a dramatically new musical creation, but rather, a musically transmittable personality that is alone substance enough to reinvigorate a more conventional source material. Mac DeMarco, for instance, channeling a hipster-goofball Jerry Garcia.

Sunflower Bean has the potential to follow both of these paths simultaneously. As I watched them all jam, the trio seemed engulfed in each other’s energy, a kind of perfect unawareness that signaled not ignorance, but a pure desire to create only the music they intended on creating and playing it the way they wanted it to be played. Such a rare combination of authenticity and passion has led to a very unique sound, which has led to a killer live show. It is a signal of the immense potential of this still very new band, that still has no official release to their name. It is a power that, when properly harnessed, cannot be drowned out. Not even by all the reverb in the world. - Pretext Social Club

After seeing this name crop up all over the musicsphere for months we finally caught Sunflower Bean's neopsychedelic grunge gaze this Tuesday at Baby's All Right.

The tender young trio didn't just sprout up onto the DIY landscape out of no where. They first met when guitarist Nick Kivlen's and drummer Jacob Faber's other band, Turnip King, played a show with Supercute!, Julia Cumming's twee-punk girl group. Somewhere in between striking up new friendships and playing CMJ this past fall, Nick and Jacob added Julia's bass and vox to their fledgling two-man project and Sunflower Bean was born.

They've been especially hard to miss since they debuted their exclusively-iPhone shot video for the tautalogically timewarped "2013" in March, playing all over Brooklyn, bouncing from venue to house to loft, like the recently shuttered Emet, their mournfully self-professed home venue.

So far, much of their press has come from the fashion-leaning side of the media spectrum (premiering their video on Rookie and appearing in French fashion magazine, Purple). This is assumably owed to their statuesque darling Cumming's own modeling successes, most noteably walking in St. Laurent's Fall 2014 show at Paris Fashion Week.

Keep your eyes peeled for more shows, songs and other generally intriguing stuff that is sure to pop up from Sunflower Bean. - Impose Magazine

Sunflower Bean is one of the coolest teenage bands making music right now in New York. Their dark, bass-heavy sound falls somewhere between droning ’70s psychedelic rock and jangly post-punk. The music video for their latest single, the beautifully haunting “2013,” was shot entirely on an iPhone. In the video, which we’re pleased to premiere here, the band plays around on snowy suburban lawns and thrashes out in a basement while covered in glitter, taking selfies and Snapchats all the while.

I sat down with the members of the band—Julia Cumming (from Supercute!) Nick Kivien, and Jacob Faber (the latter two from Turnip King)—to talk about this video, growing older, and their favorite emoji.

HAZEL: How did you all get together?

NICK KIVIEN: Jake and I went to the same high school, but we didn’t know each other until our last year there, when we started playing together in the band Turnip King.

JULIA CUMMING: Supercute! and Turnip King played a show together, and the Turnip King guitarist, Lucia, and I became good friends. I had been looking for a band to play bass in because Supercute! wasn’t doing as much, and it turned out Jake and Nick were looking for a bass player for Sunflower Bean.

When did you all know that you wanted to make music?

NICK: I’ve been playing the guitar since I was eight.

JAKE FABER: I took saxophone lessons starting in the fourth grade, then I started to play drums. But it wasn’t until [Nick and I] formed Turnip King that I was like, I want to do this—a lot.

JULIA: I started playing guitar when I was 11 or 12. I didn’t know I wanted to keep doing it until Supercute! started and music became an important part of my life.

How would you describe Sunflower Bean’s sound?

NICK: If the Velvet Underground happened in [the year] 20,100.

Who are your big musical influences?

JAKE: The Velvet Underground.

JULIA: Black Sabbath.

NICK: Pink Floyd.

Tell me about this song, “2013.”

NICK: Well, my friend Harry is an all-around genius. One time when he was drunk, he told me that in the future he was going to revolutionize technology to make us live hundreds of years. He kept repeating that, but the number kept getting higher and higher. He was like, “You’re going to live to be 100,” then “What if I told you that you were going to live to be 1,000? It’s gonna happen.” So the song came from that. We’re obsessed with technology and the end of the world.

JULIA: The song is looking toward the future, but by calling it “2013” and by shooting the whole video on an iPhone, we’re marking it in time, in a way. The song and the video already are nostalgic, because it’s 2014!

Was 2013 a particularly significant year for any of you?

NICK: I turned 18! I turn 19 in three months. That’s dark.

Do you all feel that way? That getting older is a dark subject?

JULIA: Most people our age make peace with [getting older], but some people don’t. Time is a really funny thing. Sometimes I feel OK and I’m excited [to get older].

I feel like being youthful is sort of intense. I feel like, depending on who you are, “you’re going to live a thousand years” could be taken as either a curse or a gift.

NICK: It’s definitely a curse. People living to 80 is why our economy is destroyed.

JULIA: That’s such a dark thing to say!

I love all of the iPhone imagery and emoji in the video, also all of the selfie-taking. I feel like for people our age, there’s a lot of backlash against using your iPhone a lot, taking selfies, etc. Was this video in any way a response to that?

NICK: The guy who made the video, Kyle Hiedacavage, is obsessed with both self-parody and technology. He’s 22 and he knows what kids are supposed to like in the modern age, and he embraces and embodies all of it. He genuinely loves it.

JULIA: When [Kyle] heard the song, he knew it all had to be shot on an iPhone. We shot it on all different generations—iPhone 4, iPhone 5, etc.—to give it different textures. That wasn’t even on purpose, it was just that all the iPhones kept dying. [Laughs] There was no budget for the video. I had just bought a fog machine, and we took it to our friend Eddy’s house in Jersey. Eddy’s dad made chili. It was really DIY.

What’s your stance on selfies?

JAKE: I like taking selfies.

NICK: That’s what life is now.

What’s your favorite emoji?

JULIA: Oh my god, there’s so many that are good. The eggplant is too expressive—sometimes it’s too much…

NICK: I like Snoopy.

JULIA: That’s not an emoji! [Laughs] That’s a Facebook emoji.

NICK: I have a burger emoji sticker on the back of my phone.

JULIA: You know the three yellow stars that are sparkles? That one is really good.

What’s in the future for Sunflower Bean?

JULIA: We’re going to keep recording, keep playing shows, and get signed! - Rookie Magazine

In a time where it seems like every band is making fuzz rock, I present to you Sunflower Bean; Nick, Jacob and Julia, a three piece outfit out of Brooklyn, who make tunes that if they had legs, would kick the bollocks out of every shitty fuzz band you wasted your money on last month. That is to say; they’re good. Their music is self described as ‘neo-Psychedelic for the digital age’, it seemed fitting then that I should hit them up through the wonders of the internet.

A: So how did you form?

N: Me and Jacob met when he joined a previous band I had been in, then we started jamming together on our own. Me and Julia met at 285 kent a few months later, I was walking out and she was walking in. I tripped and she caught me. We’ve been a band since the end of August

A. I listened to the song ‘Bread’ on your Bandcamp, it seems very My Bloody Valentineinspired. It’s a great track, what music inspires you? What are some of your favourite bands?

N: Thank you! Our favorite bands are Total Slacker, LODRO, Black Sabbath and the Velvet Underground

A: You describe your music as being neo-psychedelic, a lot of fuzz and dream rock has really found a lot of leverage lately, being a young band do you feel as though music is expanding or pushing new limits?

N: I’m not sure where rock music has left to go. The “neo” part comes from an obsession with the future and the absurdity of the modern age. Ideas are always being expanded and built upon. I don’t think there is room to shrink. But growth might be a little slow right now, at least.

A: Your music is A+, where can we get more of it?

N: Our next single is coming out on March 17th, it will be accompanied by our first music video, made by Kyle Hiedacavage (

A: So if you could have a fictional super band compromising of any musician dead or alive who’d be in it?

N:Julian Casablancas on bass and vocals, Kevin Parker on guitar and Bob Dylan on Drums.

You can download ‘Bread’ for free off the Sunflower Bean’s bandcamp, follow them on facebook, and keep your eyes peeled for their latest video premiering Monday 17th March. - Yon Plume


Still working on that hot first release.



Rock & roll was never dead, it has just been waiting to re-emerge. In their first year, Sunflower Bean has made waves as they relight the torch and bring rock into the future. Julia Cumming (vox/bass), Nick Kivlen (vox/guitar), and Jacob Faber (drums), have all yet to turn 20, but are already veterans of the Brooklyn DIY scene. Drawing from a wealth of rugged lo-fi sounds, they have adapted the heroic charisma of VU psychedelia and Black Sabbath’s dark rock to fit their own generation’s drowsy indie ethos. 


“Sunflower Bean is one of the coolest teenage bands making music right now in New York.” -- Rookie Magazine

"This guitar-loving New York trio are only teens, but draw their influences from a wide net. It's evident on their self-titled debut EP, a blend of gothic sludge, Sonic Youth mysticism and, most conspicuously, dark neo-psychedelia." -- NME Magazine 

"Sunflower Bean's music is not as delicate as the band's name might lead you to believe: it's sultry and hypnotic." -- Interview Magazine 

Band Members