Blue Ox Music Festival Preview: Sunny War Discusses Her Latest Album ‘Simple Syrup’, Getting Back On The Big Stage, & More

L.A.-based artist Sunny War has no shortage of stories to tell, and unique guitar melodies to play.

With her there is an air of effortlessness, displayed both in her lyrical authenticity and musical confidence – two things that could draw just about anyone in. Music has been the base of Sunny War’s life since she was just 13 when she began busking on the boardwalk, and many years of being on the road established music as a constant. Now, she has settled in Los Angeles, and uses her art to reflect on her youth through relatable and heart-wrenching songs. 

Simple Syrup is Sunny War’s sixth album, and takes on a bit of a new life and sound through a fuller band sound; but, even within the bigger sound, her haunting voice is not lost, and her guitar drives each piece. Well-rounded and emotional, Simple Syrup is a stunning collection of pieces – but the magic comes to life when watching her perform. 

Both in her solo endeavors and her band, War & Pierce, she is a compelling performer. Guitar techniques that have been passed down through generations of talent are only a fraction of her skill-set, which can barely be done justice with just words. Something you need to see to believe, her performance of “Big Baby”, from Simple Syrup is just a sample of what Sunny War has to offer.

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And if you’re lucky enough to be heading to the Blue Ox Music Festival this week, you can catch this mesmerizing performer opening the first full day of the festival on Friday.

She will take to the main stage, a first for her and her band. However, there is no doubt that sheer talent and soft-spoken anecdotes will have the audience captivated as they begin their day of music with her. 

We caught up with Sunny War to talk about Blue Ox, Simple Syrup, and plans for the next several months, eliciting relatable responses and plenty of plans you’ll be excited to hear about. 

So you recently released your sophomore album, Simple Syrup. Can you tell us a bit about how it came to life? 

There wasn’t really a plan for it, except to showcase songs as a trio. Before COVID, I thought we would be touring as a trio, so I was just trying to think of band songs. 

“Blues/Folk/Punk” is a unique fusion of music. Is that a combo you sought to attain, or did it just come organically?

Well, I think it’s just different stages of what I was listening to growing up. I’ve never really played stuff I like to listen to – like fingerstyle blues, I’m influenced by it, but more because I’m interested in how they play it and trying to play it. Punk is more what I listen to and what I felt fit my ideology. And what I think politically. It became the soundtrack to my life. Playing guitar is more like a craft.

So you’re playing the Blue Ox festival in a couple of weeks for the first time. How are you feeling about playing this festival and for larger crowds again?

I don’t know that much about Blue Ox, but I’ve heard other people talk about it. I’ll probably just be nervous. 

With so many amazing artists and attractions on the docket, what part of the weekend are you most excited for?

I’ve gotta look at the lineup – I like Shakey Graves. I’m not that into Americana music, so I don’t know much about this. Leftover Salmon is a cool name. 

After a year away from live music, playing a festival seems like a big adjustment. What might you be doing to prepare, or is it business as usual?

Well, we’ve played a lot in the past few weeks, so that helps getting in the groove of playing live again. I guess we’ll just have to have some rehearsals.

What have been a few highlight-reel moments for you in your music career thus far?

I don’t really know – I think making vinyl, and learning more about recording.

Lastly, what might you have planned for the rest of summer and into fall?

There’s a lot of shows booked through the rest of the year that I hope still happen. I hope to also record more and finish some ideas. I also want to work more with my other band War & Pierce, but I don’t really have any idea. I’m excited to see the bands (at Blue Ox) and learn more about Americana music!

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