Sun June Set a Noir Narrative to Dance in Their “Bad Girl” Video

Vocalist Laura Colwell also answers questions about the new tune and the “bigger, fatter, sadder” record it will appear on.
Sun June Set a Noir Narrative to Dance in Their “Bad Girl” Video

Vocalist Laura Colwell also answers questions about the new tune and the “bigger, fatter, sadder” record it will appear on.

Words: Mike LeSuer

photo by Santiago Dietche

December 10, 2020

So far, Austin five-piece Sun June has done an excellent job of selling their forthcoming record Somewhere to its intended nostalgic audience, in turn referring to it as their “prom record” and describing their sound as “regret pop.” To add to that, vocalist Laura Colwell describes it as being “bigger, fatter, sadder” than its predecessor when introducing its latest single, the dusty-trail dream-pop (and prom-ready) “Bad Girl,” which longingly looks back on the freedom of Colwell’s teenage years.

To introduce the new single, the band is unveiling a vibrant, sun-soaked visual for the track, setting its moody tones to an ecstatic dance routine. While the influence of Terrence Malick—whose set for Song to Song is where Colwell and bandmate Stephen Salisbury met—is evident in the contemplative cinematography, the band claims to have taken inspiration from “films like Blood Simple and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, which were also shot in rural towns just outside of Austin.”

Watch the clip below, and read on for a Q&A with Colwell. You can pre-order Somewhere—out February 5 on Run for Cover and Keeled Scales—here.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Years?

Making Years was about capturing the songs we had been playing live. The five of us all played and sang in a room together live to tape. There weren’t too many overdubs or new explorations. We really wanted the record to have a lot of space and air. We like to think we made some radical steps with Somewhere compared to Years, but it’s probably a subtle shift to anyone who doesn’t know us on a personal level. 

We’ve always gone for minimal arrangements, which is fueled by our desire to focus on melody and lyrics, but we wanted to get bigger and fuller with this record. I played guitar for the first time on a few tracks, and we added synth beds and layered on more echo and reverb. Hopefully when we do drop to just a guitar or just vocals, you can maybe appreciate it more. 

We want our live shows to get more dynamic, too. Our performances have always had a vulnerability that isn’t put on or performedwe just lack confidence onstage and get in our heads sometimes. Touring gave us space to grow, and opening for bands like Fruit Bats, Lucy Dacus, and Liza Anne last fall boosted our energy. Each of them puts on amazing performances and they really fill the room. They inspired us to try to make a bigger, fatter, sadder record. We know we’ll have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone to play it live.

What’s “Bad Girl” about?

“Bad Girl” is about a younger version of myself I like to obsessively despise while desperately trying to emulate. It’s about a self-destructive past and how my fear of death and FOMO (for lack of a better term) affected my decision making. 

I really wanted to make a dance video because the song has so much attitude. The dancer/choreographer Sarah Navarrete really captured the push and pull of the lyrics. The video is like a noir narrative, but with dance. 

Who would you consider your “regret pop” inspirations or contemporaries?

[Laughs] That term is part self-deprecating joke and part mission statement. But we love everything by Porches and Lomelda because they offer beautiful music with a lot of self-reflection and imagery that can hit you in so many different ways. Some of our favorite records/songs, like Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Angel Olsen’s Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Beach House’s Bloom, Rilo Kiley’s More Adventurous, Amen Dunes’ Freedom, Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange and Blonde, Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, and Rostam’s Half Light, have all seeped into our brains while writing. We doubt any of these artists would put themselves under the “regret pop” umbrella, but we think they might be! 

Your videos for “Bad Girl” and “Singing” feel pretty reminiscent of recent Malick films—how has he influenced your visual work?

Hmmm. No doubt that our time spent with him has influenced us. Malick spends years on films and tries out as many ideas as possible. In the past, we’ve shot close to six or seven hours of footage per music video. That’s definitely an unfortunate byproduct of our time with him. We are editors, though, so in the end it’s actually really satisfying to have lots of options. Stephen and I love to go back and forth on the smallest of details. We usually don’t know how something is going to look until we edit it together. 

I think he’s also influenced how we approach movement in each shot, but we also try to vary things up and break his many, many rules. I will say that “Bad Girl” is actually more inspired by the Coen brothers’ first film, Blood Simple, but our cinematographer E.J. Enriquez is an Emmanuel Lubezki fan, so he couldn’t stop himself from filming a shadow or two!

What one song do you associate most with your prom experience? 

Calling Somewhere our “prom record” came about because we wanted the music to sound dreamy and earnest. We imagined ourselves as an Albuquerque prom band in an alternate timeline. I think our song “Once in a While” probably captures that best. “OIAW” is about heartbreak, overindulging, and the gap between expectation and reality—the ultimate prom experience! We’ll pass on any mention of songs that remind us of our actual proms, because that’d just be too embarrassing!