Sunglasses: Mimicing the Earth’s Environment.

Sunglasses is a Georgia-based duo comprised of Samuel Cooper and Brady Keehn. The two met while studying at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Their self-titled EP is out now.

When did Sunglasses first come together? 
Samuel: Less than a year ago, a mutual friend at a bar introduced us; she was helping produce my senior thesis film and introduced Brady as “the best” in terms of sound designers at SCAD. After we had some meetings regarding the films sound and influences we started working on the films post-production sound together. The film dealt with all of my original music so immediately upon working on the project we were discussing mixing and what the songs needed. Soon we traded samples/ideas back and forth, then testing the songs live in Downtown Savannah, and then making the music video for “Whiplash.” We both had other projects at the time. Sunglasses was the newest and most “side” project of them all. We just happened to make some songs when we hung out and then I had an idea for a video.

Do you remember the first album you bought? 
Samuel: I remember going to the Sound Shop probably around my 6th or 7th birthday and buying “Thriller” and “Bad” on CD. I specifically remember those two because I was having a Michael Jackson roller skate party at Skate Country and I had to stop off to get my jams before I threw the skates on.
Brady: I think the first thing I bought myself was a Wallflowers cassette tape when I was in elementary school, but it was not until my Grandmother “Mimi” bought me Pink Floyds’ Echoes that I really was turned on to music and sound design.

The cover art for your album is so epic and trippy. Who created the art?
Samuel: Why thank you! That’s courtesy of your boy Marshall Trotter. Along with Brady and I, Marshall is a graduate from SCAD. He is one of our closest friends. Recently, we all moved up to a lake house in Maryland for a month or so to mix and finish the EP. During that time with the help of Elgin “Teen Wolfe” Braden, Marshall created the albums artwork. Marshall is a very talented artist and musician. He along with Elgin perform and record as Aux Arc, as well as being a part of many other musical projects with us including Hula Hoop, Baby Jazz and Food Coloring.

What do you use to produce your tracks?
Brady: We like to encompass everything in our music, from found objects, analog synths, soft synths, field recordings, samples and any instruments we can get our hands on. The Earth’s environment is very sonically detailed and we can only try and mimic it when creating the Sunglasses environment.
Samuel: The studio/environment where we record really has a lot to do with the final product. Utilizing what is around us in terms of sounds/instruments and incorporating those elements into the songs. I always try to keep in mind the artists/producers I admire when recording and attempt to channel aspects of execution that they possessed.

How does your creative process work when creating tracks?
Samuel: I usually write the songs either on the Rhodes or come up with melodies based on a sample and more recently even guitar. Usually there is some sort of basis, a beat or progression. Then I’m going to hear melodies that we will use for vocal parts or synth/musical elements. I write the lyrics for the vocal melody and immediately do a ridiculous amount of harmonies with usually any of the vocals that are recorded. After the frame of the song is sequenced we start to add percussion and sonic elements. Brady: After we sort of set the basis of the song I like to contemplate and create the songs environment, the sounds that would encompass it or describe it but yet still in the Sunglasses “world,” its “soundscape.” That can encompass the sounds of the percussion used, to synths, to SFX, how to treat Sam’s melodies, it is a real focus on all of the sonic elements. Its usually here where Sam and I have a complete understanding of the song, its sounds, its feel, its environment and we just bounce ideas back and forth that build upon each other till the songs completion.

What was the first track you created together?
“Stand Fast” was the first song we ever worked on together. Who are some of your favorite producers? -Samuel: Phil Spector, Quincy Jones, Brian Wilson, Brian Eno, Joe Meek, The Dust Brothers, Andre 3000, Angelo Rizzoli -Brady: Vangelis, Tomita, Brian Eno, Flying Lotus, Dr. Dre, Harmonic 313

Do you have any artists you would like to remix? 
We are currently remixing Keepaway’s “100.” Look Out!

Did you listen to a lot of other music while creating the EP? 
Brady: I remember listening to a lot of the Beatles but I was also very much into dubstep, a lot of the LA beat producers, then onto Australia’s Harmonic 313 and then anything Sam was listening to he would pass it off to me too.
Samuel: I definitely got back into the Beatles around that time because my pops gave me the new stereo remasters box set. I also was listening to a lot of obscure vinyl. The way my house was set up in Savannah was I had all of my toys hooked up ready to record at any time. My records were all over the place and my record player was my only real audio player. I was sampling a lot at that time for the “Miles” soundtrack and for various other projects. That usually means digging through obscure old records, which I have a lot of, either from grandparents and family or thrift store hounding. I know that one artist both Brady and I were really into towards the end of recording the EP was Gorillaz. Also Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You” was constantly playing in my apartment.

Do you approach live shows differently than the work you do in the studio?
Brady: Absolutely, live shows give us an opportunity to test the songs that we have been creating. It also gives an opportunity to really put the audience in the Sunglasses environment through visual and aural collages. As opposed to the two of us in my bedroom, that was painted black with stars and galaxies on the walls.
Samuel: The way that it is set up it is completely different. There is a whole feeling and environment to a live show especially in comparison to a bedroom, which is where we recorded the EP. We are constantly experimenting live with sounds and ideas that we never would pursue in the studio, as well as the liberation of performing in front of living breathing people. We also attempt to stay true to the songs in terms of their impact and content. We are slowly getting to where our live shows will be a multi-media extravaganza. Recently, I have been making these video collages for the live shows that people have really responded to and I will continue to pursue that medium.

How do you feel the songs evolve live? 
Samuel: We usually extend and elaborate on parts of songs. We tend to give and take from the audience member much quicker in recordings and live we let certain sections breathe a little more.
Brady: I feel it really depends on the night and how I feel when I get on stage. Previously being a DJ I have learned to read and react with the crowd a lot. I tend to see how people are experiencing the music and determine what needs to happen while also listening to Sam. That could mean that we need to extend a certain section of the song, add sounds effects, add a droning synth to create anticipation, or end what ever were doing. That’s just an example of some of the things that happen to our songs live, it really all depends.

Is your live setup different from your studio setup? 
Samuel: Live we don’t get to have every single toy around us to play, which is good. We get to focus on our individual jobs and roles. In the studio we get to have all this junk to hit on and make noise with. To translate that live we simply sample those noises or sounds and trigger them on samplers. Once applying effects to the samples/sounds live we have already taken the sound further than we did during the recording process and we experiment with them more.

Have you finished your full-length album?
Brady: We have just set up our studio in Gainesville, GA and have begun recording for the full-length.
Samuel: We have converted my families’ lake house into our studio and are going strong; it should be out before the year is over.

How are the songs styled differently than the ones on your EP? 
Samuel: Yes and no. We definitely have found a “sound” which we will be continuing but taking that further is our ultimate goal for the full length. We have been listening to a lot of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul lately if that means anything. Oh and TLC too.
Brady: To add to that list, we are also listening to The Zombies, Augustus Pablo, Liquid Liquid and Deltron 3030.

What advice would you have for up-and-coming producers?
Samuel: Identify your goal and creatively go about achieving it.
Brady: Listen to EVERYTHING. Every sound has its place. The faintest of sounds can mean so much. Also listen to your tracks on as many different speakers as possible, it really helps to determine your mix and how it will sound to others through similar sources.

For more information on Sunglasses, check out

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