interview and portraits by Beata Kanter


CITY OF THE SUN 


 

Beata Kanter: You’ve played some major venues in front of thousands of people. Do any of you get stage fright?

 

Avi Snow: Honestly? No.

 

I got really nervous the first time we went busking. I think that was stage fright for me. Once you get comfortable playing in the street for strangers that aren’t there to see you, a venue full of your fans becomes a lot less nerve racking.

 

BK: How did you start busking as a band?

 

Zach Para: Avi and I met at a jam session at Arlene’s grocery and he asked me if I would be interested in playing with him and John. We were supposed to play in my studio but it was super hot and my AC wasn’t working so John suggested that we go play outside and busk.

 

That was the first time I played with them, period. It went really well and we just kept at it. They had already built something without me but that summer we pushed it further and further.

 

John Pita: Adding Zach to our sessions was sort of like a revival for the band.

 

BK: What was the initial appeal of playing outside for crowds of strangers?

 

JP: Busking, if you do it with the right people, gives you a HUGE rush. Once you tap into that, there’s nothing not to like. 

 

ZP: There’s also the fact that if you do it on a good day in the right places you can reach a lot of people in a relatively small amount of time. A lot of new listeners. It’s a great way to spread the word organically.

 


 

ZACH, CITY OF THE SUN 


 

 

BK: The band has been together for a few years now.  Have you all always put City of the Sun first?

 

JP: Yes. Because of the nature of what we do, committing all our time is the only way. When we first started, we used to busk twice a day, every day. The momentum and the response was so great that it supported us financially. There was no time or reason to get another job.

 

AS: Well, there was a period at first when we all had other jobs. It took me about a year to finally just quit everything else and say, okay this is what we’re doing.

 

ZP: When I joined, there was already some momentum going. Right away it was very apparent that this was not a half time thing. At first I was teaching and was kind of all over the place. There was a lot of stuff I was getting my hands into but I could tell that this was something serious. I think going out and seeing the response was all the verification any of us could have needed.

 

BK: Sounds like love at first sight.

 

ZP: Ha! I wouldn’t call it love at first sight…

 

AS: Haha... It’s all perfect. Yeah.

 

JP: Just like an Ed Sheeran song!

 

ZP: We just love each other. We hang out all the time ever since the day we met.

 

AS: And we’ve NEVER fought ONCE.

 

BK: Okay okay sarcasm acknowledged! So have you guys ever come close to disbanding?

 

AS: Let’s just say we’ve left a member on the side of the road once or twice.

 

BK: Haha say no more. You just came back from an Eastern European tour. How’d that go?

 

JP: It was the best tour ever.

 

BK: Really?

 

JP: We have a following in the US, but over there we had no idea what to expect from our fan base. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if we had one. And then it turned out pretty much every stop on the tour had people that were into us and knew our music by heart. The surprise element felt very powerful.

 

ZP: When you’re that far away and there’s all these people that come out to see you play… It’s surreal.

 

AS: Yeah… I remember when we played in Brazil. Sao Paolo is such a fun city. There’s this big main avenue that they shut down on the weekends. Everyone goes there to perform. It’s like a big party.

 

ZP: I can’t wait to go back to Brazil and would love to check out Rio. There are so many places to tour and experience. It’s such a great opportunity. That’s something I’ve always been excited about as a musician.

 

 


JOHN, CITY OF THE SUN 


 

BK: Is there a message that you want to get across to your listeners?

 

ZP: Absolutely, yes.

 

JP: We want to spread a positive message.

 

AS: We want our music to be universal, transcend boundaries. People have told us that they can feel things, that they can feel emotions in our songs. Even though we don’t communicate with words, the meanings are still evident to our fans.

 

JP: It’s incredible to think that we’re connected on that level.

 

 


AVI, CITY OF THE SUN


 

BK: Do you have any resentment towards the current make-up of the music industry?

 

JP: Well… the down side of it is that the artist becomes a product. Like a shoe.

 

Those artists are incredibly talented. But a lot of times they don’t get to rest. A lot of times nobody cares how they feel. They are making money for a corporation. A shoe doesn’t have feelings. You sell it, you put it everywhere. Replace that shoe with a human being, it can get hard, I’m sure.

 

AS: But that doesn’t apply to us.

 

BK: I can see why. You’re coming on the scene at a perfect time. There is a very strong resurgence to analog. Shooting film, listening to vinyl… I personally feel like we’ve overdosed on computer generated synthesizers, Ableton drum kits, etc... Live instruments are the antidote.

 

AS: Thank you. That’s also the great thing about music. People will never stay on one thing forever. Tastes will always evolve. There will always be opportunity for different styles of music to have their moment.

 

At the end of the day we’re in a position right now where we can make music and put it out. It can reach millions of people with or without a label.

 

BK: Absolutely. It’s an incredible time. Although I imagine a label with all of its resources can be quite the temptress.

 

ZP: Oh yeah. Trust me it’s a valid thought to think, we’ve been working on this thing for so long.

 

Let’s just give it to somebody and they’ll launch it…

We’ll just go with the plan, it’s less work…

This can blow up in one week if we just hand it over…

 

But the reality is, long term it’s not a good idea. If you can do more yourself, see it through till the end, you will never be that shoe.

 

 

 

 

 

for more on the band, visit their website at wearecityofthesun.com

interview and portraits by Beata Kanter


CITY OF THE SUN 


 

Beata Kanter: You’ve played some major venues in front of thousands of people. Do any of you get stage fright?

 

Avi Snow: Honestly? No.

 

I got really nervous the first time we went busking. I think that was stage fright for me. Once you get comfortable playing in the street for strangers that aren’t there to see you, a venue full of your fans becomes a lot less nerve racking.

 

BK: How did you start busking as a band?

 

Zach Para: Avi and I met at a jam session at Arlene’s grocery and he asked me if I would be interested in playing with him and John. We were supposed to play in my studio but it was super hot and my AC wasn’t working so John suggested that we go play outside and busk.

 

That was the first time I played with them, period. It went really well and we just kept at it. They had already built something without me but that summer we pushed it further and further.

 

John Pita: Adding Zach to our sessions was sort of like a revival for the band.

 

BK: What was the initial appeal of playing outside for crowds of strangers?

 

JP: Busking, if you do it with the right people, gives you a HUGE rush. Once you tap into that, there’s nothing not to like. 

 

ZP: There’s also the fact that if you do it on a good day in the right places you can reach a lot of people in a relatively small amount of time. A lot of new listeners. It’s a great way to spread the word organically.

 


 

ZACH, CITY OF THE SUN 


 

 

BK: The band has been together for a few years now.  Have you all always put City of the Sun first?

 

JP: Yes. Because of the nature of what we do, committing all our time is the only way. When we first started, we used to busk twice a day, every day. The momentum and the response was so great that it supported us financially. There was no time or reason to get another job.

 

AS: Well, there was a period at first when we all had other jobs. It took me about a year to finally just quit everything else and say, okay this is what we’re doing.

 

ZP: When I joined, there was already some momentum going. Right away it was very apparent that this was not a half time thing. At first I was teaching and was kind of all over the place. There was a lot of stuff I was getting my hands into but I could tell that this was something serious. I think going out and seeing the response was all the verification any of us could have needed.

 

BK: Sounds like love at first sight.

 

ZP: Ha! I wouldn’t call it love at first sight…

 

AS: Haha... It’s all perfect. Yeah.

 

JP: Just like an Ed Sheeran song!

 

ZP: We just love each other. We hang out all the time ever since the day we met.

 

AS: And we’ve NEVER fought ONCE.

 

BK: Okay okay sarcasm acknowledged! So have you guys ever come close to disbanding?

 

AS: Let’s just say we’ve left a member on the side of the road once or twice.

 

BK: Haha say no more. You just came back from an Eastern European tour. How’d that go?

 

JP: It was the best tour ever.

 

BK: Really?

 

JP: We have a following in the US, but over there we had no idea what to expect from our fan base. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if we had one. And then it turned out pretty much every stop on the tour had people that were into us and knew our music by heart. The surprise element felt very powerful.

 

ZP: When you’re that far away and there’s all these people that come out to see you play… It’s surreal.

 

AS: Yeah… I remember when we played in Brazil. Sao Paolo is such a fun city. There’s this big main avenue that they shut down on the weekends. Everyone goes there to perform. It’s like a big party.

 

ZP: I can’t wait to go back to Brazil and would love to check out Rio. There are so many places to tour and experience. It’s such a great opportunity. That’s something I’ve always been excited about as a musician.

 

 


JOHN, CITY OF THE SUN 


 

BK: Is there a message that you want to get across to your listeners?

 

ZP: Absolutely, yes.

 

JP: We want to spread a positive message.

 

AS: We want our music to be universal, transcend boundaries. People have told us that they can feel things, that they can feel emotions in our songs. Even though we don’t communicate with words, the meanings are still evident to our fans.

 

JP: It’s incredible to think that we’re connected on that level.

 

 


AVI, CITY OF THE SUN


 

BK: Do you have any resentment towards the current make-up of the music industry?

 

JP: Well… the down side of it is that the artist becomes a product. Like a shoe.

 

Those artists are incredibly talented. But a lot of times they don’t get to rest. A lot of times nobody cares how they feel. They are making money for a corporation. A shoe doesn’t have feelings. You sell it, you put it everywhere. Replace that shoe with a human being, it can get hard, I’m sure.

 

AS: But that doesn’t apply to us.

 

BK: I can see why. You’re coming on the scene at a perfect time. There is a very strong resurgence to analog. Shooting film, listening to vinyl… I personally feel like we’ve overdosed on computer generated synthesizers, Ableton drum kits, etc... Live instruments are the antidote.

 

AS: Thank you. That’s also the great thing about music. People will never stay on one thing forever. Tastes will always evolve. There will always be opportunity for different styles of music to have their moment.

 

At the end of the day we’re in a position right now where we can make music and put it out. It can reach millions of people with or without a label.

 

BK: Absolutely. It’s an incredible time. Although I imagine a label with all of its resources can be quite the temptress.

 

ZP: Oh yeah. Trust me it’s a valid thought to think, we’ve been working on this thing for so long.

 

Let’s just give it to somebody and they’ll launch it…

We’ll just go with the plan, it’s less work…

This can blow up in one week if we just hand it over…

 

But the reality is, long term it’s not a good idea. If you can do more yourself, see it through till the end, you will never be that shoe.

 

 

 

 

 

for more on the band, visit their website at wearecityofthesun.com