he first time I saw Sunsquabi was in 2015 and they were opening for Pretty Lights at Chicago’s Northerly Island venue. I knew them as an influential band in the ever-evolving livetronica/jam scene but founder Kevin Donahue says their live performances have evolved by lightyears since then.
You meet people from all over and those people go home and tell all their friends. So we've just been doing that for years now for, you know, almost 10 years, just consistently touring every year. In terms of the show we're bringing now— [it’s] incomparable to what that was then. You know what I mean? - KD
Over the last decade, Sunsquabi has become a staple of the Colorado music scene and achieved a local celebrity status that is quickly spreading throughout the country. You may have caught them opening for artists like Opiuo, The Floozies, or The Disco Biscuits. You also might have seen them at SummerCamp, Backwoods, Wakarusa and more. To put it bluntly, Sunsquabi has been EVERYWHERE but the band has gone through some lineup changes over the years.
So the long and short is 10 years of just hard grinding and doing all this stuff and things change up. We changed members. Josh [Fairman] joined in a band in 2016. -KD
The lineup changes did not affect the band’s popularity whatsoever because they could always rely on the Sunsquabi songbook to get the crowd moving and groovin'. Songs like Cinnamon and Just A Little have become unofficial livetronica anthems in the past six years since their 2017 release. Aside from the expertly composed music, this band pours all of their life energy into the band and most nights they don’t get any sleep… But they like it that way.
It's so rewarding to get out on that stage and play for people, especially different people every night [but] it does take a huge degree of hard work. I mean, we're going on a 12-hour day right now and we play at midnight and then we'll be outta here at 2 AM and then take a flight at 9 in the morning. And that's pretty standard on a weekend. - KD
It's awesome. And then, everything else is boring… You just get used to it. - JF
You put in hours of work beforehand to prep for these crazy travel days and then do these 12-hour work days for this one hour or an hour and a half to put your heart on the fucking table and we love it. Straight up, it's so worth it every time. Not even worth it. I feel like it's beyond rewarding, We live to do this shit. - KD
The members of Sunsquabi believe the electronic jam scene is at one of its strongest points, especially with the resurgence of youthful interest in jam bands like Dead & Company, Goose, and more. It’s important to note that many EDM fans are looking for groups that can intertwine live instrumentation and that trance-like immersive feeling of dubstep or house.
The live electronic scene is going pretty good. I mean, Pretty Lights just came back. And he’s like, ‘Hey, I guess we'll do it live.’ They are the perfect example of like, “Hey, let's just sell out huge venues and do the thing, and everyone likes the sick 15-minute jams. Yeah. No one's mad about it. - JF
I think electronic music had such a huge growth spurt in the last 5 to 10 years. I'd say integrating that in with rock bands was only a matter of time. And we've been doing it for 10 years, you know what I mean? So honestly it's a very exciting time to be doing this. - KD
In many ways, Sunsquabi is continuing the tradition of stretching out tunes into infinity by taking creative musical chances. The Grateful Dead did it with blues and country songs but Sunquabi is taking a step further by adding the technological elements that Jerry was getting interested in before he passed. Sunsquabi is a band that harnesses the magic of music through improvisation and technology to get that WOW reaction from the crowd. While they recognize the historical significance of what they do, they always get immersed in that intangible beauty that music brings them on stage.
Almost all of our songshave sections in them that we're gonna play a little bit different every single time. And then some of them [we] let go of the song form completely. It's a new song. It makes it much more exciting to just push ourselves to take those risks and write on the spot with people. It depends on what we're thinking about in life that day, how the audience is reacting, and what the environment is like around you. You're taking all these factors and expressing it right then in the moment. -KD
Literally almost all the music everyone's playing wouldn't exist without African American music. Like black blues and jazz. None of this shit would exist [without it]. All jam music. All Rock, literally. It's like you think Led Zeppelin, you know, all these bands all rock. Yeah. It all started with those chords and breaking from classical music rules to this soul music. You could feel it and then jazz took the blues to the next level. - JF
I think just by nature, you know, part of being a human being is improvising constantly in your life. Doing it with musicians and with other people in the room, it's a very human experience. -KD