Episode 13: SSUN: A Toronto Singer/Songwriter Making Music to Help Us Cope with the Pandemic

Photo of black headphones with the words "Eat Sleep Breathe Music Podcast Episode 13: SSUN: A Toronto Singer/Songwriter Making Music to Help Us Cope with the Pandemic

Episode 13: SSUN: A Toronto Singer/Songwriter Making Music to Help Us Cope with the Pandemic

Today on the podcast I am chatting with Toronto artist SSUN. Skilled in both modern and classical styles she is a musician who should be on your radar.

We talk about how the pandemic inspired her latest EP, how she is adapting to recording during the lockdown where she wants to go once she can start traveling. Learn more about her and her music in the episode below.

Show Notes and Full Show Transcript

Hey everyone welcome to the podcast! Today I have really special guest. She’s a Toronto singer and her name is SSUN.

Jeanette: Welcome sun! How are you doing

SSUN: Hi everybody! I’m good. I’m SSUN very nice to meet you guys. 

Jeanette: For anyone who is not familiar with you. Can you give us a little background on you and your music. Just more about you?

SSUN: Yeah, no problem. I”m actually originally from China Shanghai and now live in Toronto. This is actually my 6th year and I”m very excited to release my first EP on this February. 

So right now generally my music generally is mostly pop and R&B. You can also see that in my first EP. Anyway hope you guys enjoy it.

Jeanette: That’s exciting. So how does Shanghai compare with Toronto. What’s your experiences been since. Cause you’ve only been here for a couple years, right? Or been here hehe.

SSUN: Yeah, I would say there are definately similarities, but culture wise they are different. But, uh cause I”m here for university. 

So till now my friends are here and you know your circle is here so I would say I. If people ask me what city you like the best I would say both. Because Shanghai is the place I grew up with my family is there so I like to, yeah, I like to experience different cultures a lot so that’s  that’s good for me.

Jeanette: That’s awesome. Since you’re going to school. Are you going to school for music? Or are you going

SSUN: No, actually, I was in UFT and I was in the New Media program. So music has always been my interest.

Jeanette: Oh!

SSUN:  I was not a music major actually.

Jeanette: So are you still in school now or are you just doing music full time?

SSUN: I actually graduated 2 years ago. So actually I’m a fulltime artist right now. 

Jeanette: Oh that’s exciting! Very exciting! You said you’re here by yourself. Has any of your family come?

SSUN: It’s actually just myself. 

Jeanette: Is it hard being on your own? Do you have, do you feel like you have a good support system there?

SSUN: You know what I’m actually getting used to that because even in Shanghai I was in boarding school. But not, but my family always support me anyway. It’s just in different form. Right?

Jeanette: Yeah, yeah. I mean thank goodness for the technology now. Cause I think about. I always keep thinking about that.  If this happened 30, 40 years ago we would be

SSUN: Exactly. It would be totally different

Jeanette: I know it’s crazy. 

SSUN: I mean  even we Facetimed yesteday. It didn’t actually feel like we were really appart (laughing)

Jeanette: I don’t know if you’re familiar. March is actually Women’s History Month. I was curious to know if you have any women of influence in your life. Either musicians or non musicians. Who would you say are like influances?

SSUN: Ah. If you ask about my influences in music women. I  would say right now I’ve been listening to Kianna and Caesar pop artists here.

But actually there are lot Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Whitney Houston.

Jeanette: LIke 90’s artists, Whitney Houston

SSUN: yes. Right, right

Jeanette: Mariah Carey. Yeah

SSUN: The carpenters. My mom really liked them. Classics are classics all the time, yeah?

Jeanette: Yeah, yeah. And it’s funny to think about the 90’s as classics artists being classic.

SSUN: mmhmm

Jeanette: I grew up in the 90’s so it just seems. I mean it seems like yesterday to me.

SSUN: I know.

Jeanette: When you talk about Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston

SSUN: Yes. Yesterday was more hehe.

Jeanette: I know. It’s funny how time flies so fast.

SSUN: mmhmm

Jeanette: I can’t believe that its…already

SSUN: Yeah, time flies

Jeanette: hehe

SSUN: Especially last year.

Jeanette: Oh my goodness.

SSUN: I mean last year went so quick.

Jeanette: I know you were definately influenced by everything going right?  Because you song “Dear Lover” that was.

SSUN: Right.

Jeanette: Inspired by the whole pandemic and everything. I liked how you had on your EP. You had a lot of difference influences. “Dear Lover” is more of a stripped down you on the piano and then you have the pop, dance song. It’s kind of a nice flow.

SSUN: Mmmhmm

Jeanette: Do you have one genre that you like or do you like doing kind of different things to kind of mix it up?

SSUN: I decided before that I’m more into pop and R&B right now. So you can see from this EP. But actually these songs from my EP called motivate. This is actually influenced by the whole pandemic situation. 

It’s my way probably to encourage everybody that we can get over this soon. That we can get back to normal soon. So, yeah, uh, speaking of stylewise. I wanted to show different like um styles of me so everyone can know me better even in my first CD. Yeah.

Jeanette: Yeah, and I think you definately did that. Cause I listened to it a couple times. Really, it’s amazing to see your range. Because you can, you know, 

SSUN: Thank you

Jeanette: You know not only you have that pop angle and then you also have that stripped down where like you can, can really showcase your vocals.

SSUN: mmhmm

Jeanette: Which are really great.

SSUN: Thank you.

Jeanette: Your welcome. So I was reading in your bio that you are very into fashion too. Who, who are your influences? How do you get your ideas for fashion stuff?

SSUN: Ah. Speaking of fashionwise I always think that one style is formed organically. Cause it is also expression and reflection of one’s personality, her circle, and her culture. So I think that is also why the reason why stylewise and fashion give me more diversity and variety. So I think that not a certain influences but probably just formed naturally. 

Jeanette: Do you find you have influences from your home as well as I’m assuming you have influances from like being in Toronto as well. Would you say everything kind of meshes together?

SSUN: Definately, yes, sometimes If I wear an outfit. I will put out accessories from my hometown style so I think that is kind of fun cross over in fashion too. Yeah.

Jeanette: Nice. Now everyone being stuck at home and with the pandemic. Do you find that you are stll keeping up with your fashions styles or do you find your like very more casual?

SSUN: No. Not as before. Definately, because you have no where to go.

Jeanette: Hehe

SSUN: But sometimes one or two friends come over to my place and we dress up. hehe. It’s like a former situation, you know? Just to get a feeling of dressed up up a little bit.

Jeanette: No, it’s its plus cause you feel like you have all these clothes that you wanna wear and you’re like even if we can’t wear them anywhere let’s get dressed and

SSUN: Yeah. Just get the vibe.

Jeanette: Yeah. It’s fun. It’s fun to stay dressed up. I read  your base is in classical music. Have you’ve been playing

SSUN: Yes,

Jeanette: since you were like three? Is that correct?

SSUN: Yes, my dad is a piano teacher. So I learned piano from my dad.

Jeanette: And I read its kind of a form of meditation for you.

SSUN: Right. For me it’s kind of a way to make me fill chill and relax. 

Jeanette: What other things help you stay calm?

SSUN: I like to spend time with my family and friends. Friend here. Probably we will just watch movies, go shopping when we could before. Or just spend time with myself or reading or whatever just maybe whatever makes me feel relaxed. Yeah

Jeanette: Are you able to get out and walk around. 

SSUN: You know what I would do sometimes, is just open the window and take a deep breathe “aah” hehe

Jeanette: haha. no, that’s a great idea. That’s. That’s really positive. It’s amazing. I think music too in general can be a nice. Like how you were saying how the classical music and the piano playing kind of was like meditation for you. I think that even listening to different types of music can be meditation.

For more I experience getting chills and it’s amazing how music can really help.

SSUN: I know. That is also one thing I found in music. It’s very magical wise. Because no matter how you feel. That music can speak for you. Do you think so?

Jeanette: Yeah definately. Like even listening to your song “Dear Lover.” Even just listening to the opening notes it was very, very touching and very like “oh wow” very powerful and like very just soothing and calming. It was very nice music.

SSUN: thank you. So this is your favorite one off the EP? 

Jeanette: Yes, I like this.

SSUN: haha

Jeanette: So is this all the music you’ve been doing? Or do you have older music? That you’re gonna re-release later or something?

SSUN: We are actually focusing on my next album so we are gonna spend some time in the studio making new music. Those three are currently what I released so far.

Jeanette: Nice. So what can we expect from the new music. It is gonna be similar to the R&B and pop or ?

SSUN: You’ll see haha

Jeanette: Oh it’s a secret? Ok. haha

SSUN: Yeah it’s a secret. But I think, we are actually trying some different elements. Like we always open to different styles of music and different elements. But we are trying to make more suprising for everybody. 

Jeanette: That’s great, that’s great.

SSUN: mmhmm

Jeanette: Do you think you’ll do any, do you think you’ll drop any release, by release? Kind of like drip out music or you just gonna throw everything out at once you think?

SSUN: This time maybe drop an album. 

Jeanette: Where are you in the process of your album?

SSUN: We’re thinking of this September.

Jeanette: Nice

SSUN: Out this year at least. Yeah.

Jeanette: With the pandemic no bodys really doing a lot of performances. So I was curious if you are itching to to get back.

SSUN: We have been experiencing some very tough times. Even on deciding on a release date or book a theatres for music videos. But definately, we are looking forward to when the situation is getting better. I’ll be ready for more live performances later. Yeah.

Jeanette: Nice. Now speaking of music videos. I saw that you released a music video for all three of the tracks?

SSUN: 2 of them.

Jeanette: 2 of them. “Motive” and then the uh

SSUN: “Dear Lover.”

Jeanette: Lover.

SSUN: Right

Jeanette: So with the “Motive” how was filming during the pandemic?

SSUN: That was fun because you definately see choreography so we just spent some time scheduling ourselves together to rehearse. So uhm, that day we definately know what we were going to do. So it’s not too tough and we have amazing team that organized everything so it’s actually quite efficient.

Jeanette: Oh that’s great.

SSUN: Yeah.

Jeanette: I guess you figure they probably have it down to a science by now. They know, you know,  Everyone knows what they have to do and then they kind of 

SSUN: Right, right, definately. Yeah.

Jeanette: When you get inspiration for a song do you tend to write the music first or lyrics. What’s your process?

SSUN: Uh, for me, myself would be music first most of the time. Cause I guess,  I don’t know, I just, I guess for everyone it’s different and but for me music gives me more inspriration sometimes so I start with music most of the cases. Yeah.

Jeanette: Do you have lyric journal or write on the spot?

SSUN: Sometimes it’s just probably when you walk, or when you’re driving. You just have an idea of a melody and I just record it on my phone. Or if. Same thing lyric wise sometimes I have an idea of one line. I’ll just write it down for inspiration. Probably not sure if I’m going to use it for a whole song or whatever. I just write it down into my library first. Yeah.

Jeanette: So what’s your favorite track on the EP? 

SSUN: Honestly, lots of people ask me this but I don’t have an answer on that because as we talked about before it’s actually different styles. So me I like all of them hehe.

Jeanette: Yeah

SSUN: Well I guess its like kind of like your children, you know? You can’t. You don’t really love any one of your children more than the other. Their all kind of different.

SSUN: Yeah, yeah, definately. But I think it’s also depends on my mood sometimes. Like if you were in a happy mood or a party mood you’re definately going “Motive.” 

But if you’re just chilling on the sofa probably would go with “Let Go.” Like the other guitar one. Or sometimes if you’re very emotional or you want to get emotional I would just listen to “Dear Lover.” Yeah.

Jeanette: Yeah. So with “Let Go” are you playing guitar on that as well?

SSUN: No it’s not me. I’m very basic in guitar. Hehe. 

Jeanette: I was going to ask you if you played any other instruments besides the piano.

SSUN: A little bit guitar. 

Jeanette: A little bit

SSUN: But on that track we do have a guitar artist to do the instrumentatlist portion. 

Jeanette: Nice. Do you like playing guitar? Or do you find it. You were saying it’s difficult?

SSUN: Uh probably because I havent’. It’s becuase I hav been playing piano for so many years hehe. I know definately for me it’s easiest wise. But I don’t want to use the word easy. I”m most familiar with that. 

So guitar for me is definately something new. 

Jeanette: I know. I was actually, myself trying to learn the guitar recently. Then I need to get a left-handed guitar. Cause I’m left handed haha

SSUN: Oh really? Oh ok, yeah, yeah.

Jeanette: And like I had borrowed one from my cousin but then like I don’t know if I can use it. Even like I was watching Youtube videos and it is. It’s a really great instrument to learn. I think it’s one of those things where it’s like you know, you just have to practice. 

You, know?

SSUN: yeah definately.

Jeanette: I guess with any instrument you have to practice haha.

SSUN: Any instrument. Practice works.

Jeanette: haha. Practice makes perfect as they say.

SSUN: mhmmm.

Jeanette: I  don’t know if this is a silly question or not hehe. I’m used to watch degrassi a lot and I love that show. I dont know if you’re familiar with it all all.

SSUN: Sorry I’m not.

Jeanette: No no it’s ok. It used to be. Actually I dont’ know if it’s on anymore. Cause it used to be on back in maybe early 2000’s. It was on in the 90’s and then they rebooted it in the 2000’s and it was a Canadian show and I remember we used to watch it.

My sister and I used to watch it. I was curious if was still on reruns or anything but uh. It’s like a teen drama if you like teen dramas.

SSUN: mmhmmm.

Jeanette: It was pretty good. So being home with the pandemic and everything do you find you’ve been creative. How are you trying to stay on track with everything? Becuase I know sometimes we can get into slumps of being home and kind of 

SSUN: hmmm

Jeanette: being like uh, you know?

SSUN: I mean, how to keep on track on everything. I  think thanks to social media nowadays everything is posted online so uhm I spend time at home being creative as you said and then. Just to for me, you have to get an idea of “ok I have to get on track with everything.” So you will be more proactive and searching information online. You know what I’m saying?

Jeanette: yeah

SSUN: Then talking to friends as well because they probably they know something that’s news you know? So for me it’s not that scary. I mean the pandemic times. Stay home. For me its more like experience. Another kind of lifestyle, you know?

Jeanette: Yeah, yeah. It’s like a new normal. hehe

SSUN: Right. That’s true.

Jeanette: So. So have you been going. LIke when you’re doing. When you’re making  music are you going physically into a studio? Cause I know a lot of people are doing like whrere they’re recording at home an then sending stuff. So what’s your process?

SSUN: We do go to studio. But studio has a limit. Normally a limit of 4 people. Four to five people. So yeah , it’s definately as you said “new normal.” We’re wearing masks a lot of the time. Besides when I’m recording. Everyone else is wearing mask and being very cautious of like how we do it. So, yeah. We but we still physically go to studio ourselves

Jeanette: Oh that’s great. I know I was curious because you were saying people were wearing masks. I was wondering if like. If would probably be hard to be singing and like wearing a mask (laughing)

SSUN: Yeah, it’s because when you’re recording you’re in a room by yourself too. So umh, yeah.

Jeanette: Yeah. So that’s good you’re not. You know you’re not worrying about anyone else. Cause I know that’s the one thing they were saying singing, playing insrum-playing certain instruments can.There is so much spit and things that we don’t realize (laughing) we don’t see.

SSUN: mmhmmm.

Jeanette: But yea, I mean you know. I think that’s that thing everyone’s just kind of like you were saying “the new normal” we’re figuring out like how we can do things as safe as possible. And I’m hoping that we can eventually see live music again.

SSUN: Me too

Jeanette: I know some places are outside. Are they doing any like any outside like have you seen outside concerts. Have you seen anything like that? Out, like where you’re living

SSUN: Not yet. No, actually we  just, we just done another period of lockdown. So it’s not everywhere is opening but it’s like you said “new normal.”

Jeanette: Yeah

SSUN: They have opened outside. Yeah

Jeanette: Yeah. Is there anyone that you would like to collaborate with, musical duo with or something?

SSUN: Oh I listen to a lot of music so I don’t have an exact one, but I do like lots of artists (laughing) John Legend, Sam Smith, Arianna Grande. They’re all like musicians I like a lot and Kiana and Ceasar I guess before I have been listening to their music all the time. 

So yeah, if I got a chance to collaborate. It would be verry exciting

Jeanette: That would be your…I can’t think of the word. haha. A big..I 

SSUN: I got you.

Jeanette: Yeah, I’m like. You know what I mean (laughing)

SSUN: hehe. That’s ok

Jeanette: Is there anything else that is coming down the pike?  Or anything you want to promote?

SSUN: Uh, I’m actually good. 

Jeanette: Yeah? Ok

SSUN: mmhmm

Jeanette: So right now. Can you tell us where people can find you online? 

SSUN: Actually my music is released on all major music platforms here.  You can find me on Spotify, Apple Music, just type in SSUN and you can see my latest release and also my Instagram is XOXO.ssun. And so yeah, I’m there.

Jeanette: And we can also leave links to those in the show notes. So people can

SSUN: yeah, yeah definately.

Jeanette: Do you have any…I know summer’s kind of a far ways away but do you have any plans on the horizon or  you just taking it day by day to see like how things how things are shifting?

SSUN: What do you mean? Like uh

Jeanette: LIke do you have. Like I know you were saying you’re working on your album, do you have anything coming up. Basically more things will be coming…that’s that release is set for possibly the fall?

SSUN: Mhmmm.

Jeanette: Cool. Aweome. So yeah. I would def recommend people listening to the EP. I love the variety of music. I think it’s a nice mix of you know showcasing your talent and showcasing your work and you know I look forward to seeing you and it would be great to…I mean hopefully soon we can see you live. You know, hopefully, I know. It would be awesome if you could come to the states.

SSUN: Me too. Yeah.

Jeanette: Do you have. Actually that’s another question. Do you have any places that you would love to play. Any, any places you want to go that you have. That are on your bucket list? 

SSUN: If you ask me now like I would say anywhere

Jeanette: Hahah

SSUN: Laughing. Just let me travel. LIke the feeling of traveling is good enough right now. But yeah if we travel it’s probably the states first cause my friends. There are a lot of my friends there. And then go back to China. I gotta visit my family. And then yeah, anywhere else I’m good.

Jeanette: I know it’s funny cause it’s like when you can’t go anywhere, you’re like “I’ll go anywhere. Just let me go somewhere.” (laughing)

SSUN: that’s true.

Jeanette; haha

SSUN: That’s how I feel right now. Exactly

Jeanette: Haha. No, that’s awesome. I feel that same way. LIke I, I used to see music so much and like it’s. I feel like it’s becoming a theme with me on this podcast (laughing) talking about not being able to see music but you know it’s nice to have those memories. It’s also nice to have recorded music because I think recorded music is is really inspirational and you know.

SSUN: I agree.

Jeanette: And it’s great to see how artists can take what their feeling right now like you’re doing and kind of writing about it cause then we can also have their you know, your insight as well.  And it’s just nice. It’s nice to have the technology to be able to be like listen to things. It’s great.

SSUN:  yeah,

Jeanette: Do you have anything that you like to stream. What are your favorites. What’s something that you would reocmmend to people to watch while their stuck in quarantine. Like any movies or tv shows that you recommend or that you like.

SSUN: Recommend, I mean people are different and like probably into different styles of movies and tv series as well. For me that one tv series that I actually watch 2 times is “Two Broke Girls.” haha

Jeanette: Oh ok.

SSUN: yeah

Jeanette You know I’ve never seen the whole series.  

SSUN: you should watch it.

Jeanette: Is that on 

SSUN: You should watch. Because for me it’s actually very inspiring to see the two girls going from like very nothing to chasing their dream all the time. For me it’s inspiring and very chill. Yeah.

Jeanette: I like that.That is. You know, I never really thought about. But yeah you’re right. That is a really inspiring show becuase they do basically.

SSUN: I’ve been…

Jeanette: Oh go ahead.

SSUN: I’ve been basically watching it for while. Once I’ve been watching it very detailed and watch every line they say so I know the story line at that time. The 2nd time I just play it in the background like I do my things I just play it, you know? Yeah

Jeanette: Yeah, that’s awesome. Do you have like the DVD’s or do you watch it on like a streaming service? 

SSUN: I watch it online.

Jeanette: Oh ok, cool, cool. Yeah. I know it’s great now we can stream everything. 

SSUN: That’s true. Mmhmm

Jeanette: Great, alright, well thank you so much I really appreciate you coming on and chatting with us. 

SSUN: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Jeanette:  Your welcome. And I love to hear more about what’s going on. I’ll have to keep an eye out and an ear out for your new music. And I’ll def look forward to seeing your album come out later this year.

SSUN: Thank you! Thank you so much. Hope eveyrthing is doing well with you too.

Jeanette: yeah you too! Stay safe and you know.

SSUN: Stay safe.

Jeanette: Alright thanks so much!

SSUN: Thatnk you so much. Have a good day.

Jeanette: You too take care.

Hope you enjoyed today’s episode. For more information on SSUN check out her official website at www.ssunmusic.com. You can also follow her on 

Facebook at the handle SSunMusic

Instagram at the handle XOXO.SSun

and Twitter at the handle SSunMusic

If you like our podcast please review and subscribe so you can find out when new episodes are released. We would love to know what you think about the artists featured. Feel free to leave an audio comment at the link in the show notes. Or you can leave on on our podcast page on the website at www.EatSleepBreatheMusic.com/Subscribe. Thanks for listening and see you next time.

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