The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

Local Waco Band SUNNN Talks Nature, Music and Friendship-Breakups

Waco Live Music Series: May

3 weeks ago

Pictured: Photos by Avery Ballmann

By Skylla Mumana

As someone who actively enjoys not only writing about music but listening to it as well, my musical tastes vary depending on what mood I’m in. One day, I might want to listen to some sultry R&B. On another, I might want to listen to some retro ‘80s pop. Recently, I had the privilege of listening to a band that stands at the intersection of classic rock, indie and folk (three of my favorite genres by the way). This is the band SUNNN.

When Baylor junior and lead singer Chloe Choudhury first touched down on campus her freshman year, she had one mission in mind: to start a band.

She didn’t have a plan or a formal way she was going to start it, but her first instinct was to gather members. Imagine her surprise when she met fellow Baylor student and soon-to-be lead guitarist, Matthew Fisanick, on the steps of her dormitory. He was jamming out with one of his friends when Choudhury approached.

“I saw Matthew and one of our former members playing on the steps of the Honors College. I went up to them and they were playing guitar, and I was like ‘Which one of you is better at guitar?’, and they were like ‘What?’” Choudhury said. “Then I was like ‘Screw it! Do both of y’all want to be in a band with me?’”

Afterwards, Choudhury went on to recruit a few more members. Then, in 2021, after a few name changes, the band SUNNN was formed. The name SUNNN is derived from their shared love of the Earth and other natural elements.

“One thing we’re all pretty keen on is nature,” Choudhury said. “Like natural themes, elements and the Earth. And what provides everything for the Earth? The sun. It provides life for everything.”

Success quickly fell upon the group. Not only were they steadily building up their fan base, but they got to play a variety of shows, including an official SXSW show through South Asian House in Austin.

However, things got a little rocky. Now, three years since the group’s inception, the band looks a little a different, with three out of the original five members having been swapped out for new members Patrick Terry and James Davenport. According to Choudhury, the new lineup is a recent change. She cites this break as a way to help all parties involved grow as musicians and further the band.

“We all kind of got to a point where it wasn’t too great of a fit. We had to let some members go and some chose to leave. In doing that, there’s no bad blood. We were just no longer the right fit,” Choudhury said. “It’s hard when you’re best friends with people and then things don’t work out. It’s kind of like a best-friend break-up in a way.”

After the split, both Fisanick and Choudhury were hesitant and wondered if continuing the band would be worth it.

“It was hard at first because we kind of went through a thing where we were like ‘Oh, do we want to continue it? Do we want to put in the work?’” Fisanick said. “But once we found our new members James and Patrick, we clicked immediately. It was fun, and we had that joy playing with each other. From then on, we were like ‘Yeah, we still want to do this.’”

Even with such changes, their unique sound and their passion for music has remained the same. The band has defined their sound as sunshine funk indie dream pop, and they have often drawn inspiration from other artists like Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, The Beatles, Amy Winehouse, Stevie Ray, Fleetwood Mac and others.

On April 26, the band closed out Baylor’s second annual Jubilee event, hosted by the sorority Alpha Phi. At this event, the band played a healthy mix of groovy cover songs, such as “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers, “Too Sweet” by Hozier and “Can I Call You Tonight” by Dayglow, amongst others. They also threw in a few originals, such as their songs “Just Pretend” and “When Did You Fall In Love,” both written by Fisanick.

The gritty, deep notes of their sound paired with Fisanick’s thought-provoking lyricism reflect the group’s overall love for music. To Fisanick specifically, music has been an integral part of his life since he was young.

“I’ve always been playing music,” Fisanick said. “I started off on piano when I was 5. I was in percussion in middle school, and then also a little bit of high school. I picked up guitar in middle school as well. So, it’s always been a thing for me. It’s a way to express yourself and be yourself.”

By the end of the night, SUNNN had the crowd on their feet, chanting and looking to Choudhury for an encore performance. To her, moments like this have a momentous impact.

“Music is the one thing that always feels fresh. It’s always changing. It’s always evolving,” Choudhury said. “You are always evolving as a musician, as a songwriter, whatever you might be. Seeing your real friends who come out for you and support you, and come to every show, take videos for you, and hype you up — that impact is deep. It means more than a lot of people would think it does.”

In the future, the band hopes to put out their first album, start their second and begin touring outside of Waco. Despite wanting to break out into a different scene, Choudhury feels grateful to the Waco community and other local musicians for their love and continuous support.

“We feel really blessed and grateful because we were met with so many supportive people and bands that have been doing this for so much longer than we have,” Choudhury said. “We’ve learned so much from them and we’ve played so much with them that we feel so comfortable and accepted and loved in this scene. We’re ready to break out of this scene and push it to the next level, but at the same time we feel so humble and accepted and happy because we got our start in what I think is the best place. I don’t know if any other place would have worked out as well for us. It means a lot.”