Sun's Alight

2 August 2012 | 4:56 pm | Troy Mutton

It’s been a rapid rise for local electro-pop lads Sun City. Troy Mutton gets up to speed with half the duo in Tobias John, discussing their new EP and finding their festival stage feet.

While three months between starting an act and playing your first gig isn't necessarily something to write home about, following that gig up with a festival slot at Parklife just another three months later definitely is. So it goes for Tobias John and Daniel Mackey, aka Sun City, who can also add appearances at festivals like Stereosonic and Sets On The Beach, supports like Owl Eyes and The Aston Shuffle, and Masterchef borrowing a tune for one of their ads.

“Yeah…things are going okay. The big one for us last year that was a bit of a game changer was when we were asked to open the main stage at Parklife,” says John on the stand-out moments of the past 12-18 months. “That all happened really quickly and we had a lot riding on that first performance, and thankfully it went kind of well and a lot followed on from that. It's kinda surreal.”

Given their early birthing on the big stage, Sun City has been somewhat of a learning process for the twosome, who both have proficient backgrounds in music – in terms of both production and holding the festival stage. “We've only been doing this for 18 months and it's just been an absolute rollercoaster. But from a technical point of view, we've learnt so much. We've sort of forced ourselves to. We've had to teach ourselves because everything's happened so much quicker than we thought it would,” John happily admits.

“But that's the best way to learn; just get thrown in the deep end and try and learn. It's been an interesting process; Dan and I are both multi-instrumental musos and between the two of us can play 15 instruments or something. We've both got a theoretical music background. We both had classical music scholarships.”

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So are they feeling more comfortable under hot sun of an Aussie summer dance festival? “We're certainly much more relaxed about it now,” he shares. “With the first couple of festivals, there's a lot of tension because you don't know what to expect. Whereas now we feel more comfortable and we know what to expect — how the behind the scenes works.

“It allows us a bit more room and freedom to get into the music while we're up there and enjoy what we're doing, which is the whole reason we're there. And I think the more energy we're able to put into it, the more we're able to just focus on the music and having a good time, which reflects on the performance and right through the crowd.”

It's that same energy they're looking to bring to the upcoming launch of their second EP, Set Alight – a four-track, one remix effort that sees them “trying to establish a fairly consistent sound,” John begins. “I guess the point between finishing the [first] EP and starting the new one, we played a lot of festivals and heaps of really cool gigs which gave us an opportunity to refine our sound live and try and establish something that's consistent. Based on the way we did that and then drawing in some new influences that're the foundation of this new EP, we've definitely gone for a really '80s vibe on it, using a lot of old analog synths and some old school samples. And we're trying to mix that up with our newer contemporary stuff as well.”

And before they potentially head over east (“I can't give away too much”), the duo have a massive launch at Villa next Friday to focus on, and John is hoping their new material goes down a treat. “It's gonna be a huge night. I guess the big thing for us is all riding on these new songs we've written. We're basically just looking to take the existing live show that we've been able to develop over a 12 month period and just build on that with a fresher sound and some new music, and hopefully some new stuff for people to dance to.”