Sun Riah talks about her most recent album, Sitting with Sounds and Listening for Ghosts. We talk about her music, how personal the album is to her heart, the weirdest/creepiest thing she’s found, and more unusual questions.
For those unfamiliar with your work, how do you describe yourself and your music?
I’m an experimental singer-songwriter. My work has been described as dark folk, freak folk, experimental folk, pop, and all sorts of other things. Basically, I use harp and vocals to tell stories through music and sound. My most recent album is about the house where my grandma was born in 1926 and lived until she died. It is an attempt to capture the life of the house through song. It was born out of my own processes of coping with loss, grief, and guilt after my grandmother passed away in 2015.
Use only five words to describe your album, Sitting with Sounds and Listening for Ghosts.
Vulnerable. Meditative. Warm. Patient. Full.
What was the greatest challenge you had when making this album?
“The album is an incredibly vulnerable work for me, and it’s been very difficult to share at times.”It’s been really hard to share with people. Making the album wasn’t hard at all actually. I feel like the album happened to me as much as I created it, but sharing it with people has been incredibly difficult. The album is very close to my heart and is about my relationship to a place and people that I love dearly. The album is an incredibly vulnerable work for me, and it’s been very difficult to share at times. I guess too, it being about people and a place that means so much to me, I worried about what they would think, if they were still here.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Fiona Apple, Helen Money, Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Billie Holliday, Judy Garland, and many more.
Have you ever had a ghostly encounter or been on a ghost tour?
I’ve probably had ghostly encounters, but I’ve sadly never been on a ghost tour.
What’s your favorite bridge (physical or symbolic)?
Well, since we are talking about the album, I’ll say the bridge outside of my grandma’s house. I’d probably have to think about it for a very long time to pick a favorite bridge. But for the purpose of this interview, I’ll go with the bridge over the ditch that leads to my grandma’s house.
What are you most likely raiding your kitchen for?
Probably vegetables. Root vegetables. I’ve worked in kitchens for much of my adult life, and chopping root vegetables is really soothing and calming for me.
What’s the weirdest/creepiest thing you’ve found in a cellar or basement?
My grandma’s cellar floods. So, in the spring during tornado season, it was often flooded. When I was younger the water was sort of creepy to me because of the thought that if there were a tornado, my grandparents would have nowhere to go. On May 3rd, 1999, my grandparents actually had to crouch down between the cellar and flooded water as the tornados blew past their house. They had a second storm shelter built after that.
Anything else you want to say or let people know?
This album is a huge part of my heart, and I hope folks find it meaningful and healing.
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