written by Marko Jakob
Pix666: Hey Sam, hello Gaelle. Thanks for your time. How are you doing these days, are you alive and well?
Sam & Gaelle: Hi! Thank you for having us. We’re doing very well, a lot of work at the moment, we’re in the studio a lot.
Pix666: Your band is still quite new – you formed ULTRA SUNN in 2019. Please introduce your band to the readers in a few short sentences. How did you get to know each other as a band / duo?
Sam: We’ve been in a relationship for several years. I have been in music for like 12 years and Gaelle is passionate about music. We dreamed of a common artistic project and it was the right time for us to do it !
Gaelle: This is my first experience as a musician. I’ve learned piano and I have always been passionate about analog synthesizers sounds. We are a Coldwave / EBM duo ased in Brussels. Sam sings and plays the synth, and I’m on the synth and drum machines.
Pix666: … what was your inspiration to become musicians in general? What are your personal favourite bands?
Sam: It’s like I didn’t choose. Being a musician has always been such a part of me, so I started playing and writing songs when i was young. I have done a lot of music and concerts with other projects but knowing Gaelle really allowed me to reveal myself as an artist, I have the feeling that I am in the right place in what I do and what we create together. I studied art history and archeology and I feel that this is something that feeds my work a lot. For my influences, I would say the Belgian New Beat from the end of the 80s, like A Split Second, Curses, The Maxx or NEON. Also from EBM like Front 242, I also like D.A.F. In today’s bands I listen to Sarin who also remixed our track Night Is Mine, I also like Schwefelgelb or Die Selektion a lot.
Gaelle: I have always been passionate about music, I go to a lot of concerts and music is a huge part of my life. So I met Sam and we started the band together and I’m eally happy to create music and being on stage. I am also a fashion designer and I like working with sound material like it’s a well-tailored piece, it’s an approach that I really like. I was really into 80s bands, especially Joy Division, Depeche Mode or The Cure. In the current bands I like Boy Harsher, Kontravoid, She Past Away and I also adore John Maus.
Pix666: You released your first song in 2019 shortly after the band was founded and you already played a tour in October 2019. Describe your memories of your first gigs together as ULTRA SUNN.
Sam: We were very lucky, the band met with great enthusiasm from the beginning. Our first concert was the support act for the French band Rendez-Vous. It was such a great memory, the kind of night you want to relive a hundred times.
Gaelle: I adore Rendez-Vous and I’ve seen them several times in concert. It was obviously super exiting, especially because it was ULTRA SUNN’s very first gig, it was also my very first gig and my first time on stage.
Pix666: Did you also have to cancel shows in 2020 because the Corona pandemic took us all out of normal life? Have you found alternatives for live shows with real audiences – have you played streaming shows in the past?
Sam: Well, we had to do the support act for KOMPROMAT then the first lockdown felt on the day of the gig. We were really looking forward to playing with them, it was soldout and we really love this project. Actually, we had to cancel a lot of concerts, we also had to play with Ritual Howls and Box and the Twins. So yes, we did our first live stream for the festival Luna Negra on Twitch. The experience was great, we really liked the good vibes from the viewers and the organisers. it was great for us to share our music and some of our unreleased tracks during this period.
Gaelle: Some of the gigs will be postponed when possible. We also filmed a live session in which we play the three titles of our EP. The video is out now ! Last October, we also had the chance to play a “covid friendly” concert in front of a seated audience of 40 people. It was kind of weird but we were so happy to play and the audience was really happy to see our gig even in these conditions !
Pix666: Have ULTRA SUNN launched any other actions and activities related to the Corona Pandemic?
Gaelle: We designed masks and a part of our profits was given to an association called ROSA which fights for gender equality and against discriminations. We were supposed to play at the Concert Against Sexism organised by them but it was of course canceled, so we had this idea to do something for them because these are values that we fully share.
Pix666: In February 2021 you released your first EP “Night Is Mine”. How were the fans’ reactions to the songs? Is the EP still available for purchase?
Sam: We were really happy that the EP had such enthusiasm ! The tracks were played on so many radios and DJ sets. Our living room turned into a post office for a while, we sent records all over the world. This is a limited edition, we only have a few left so yes, they’re still available via our bandcamp for now.
Pix666: I’m a fan of statistics of all kinds. What about you? Do you look at the numbers of streams, the views on YouTube, or do you know, for example, in which countries the people who listen to your music live?
Sam: It’s always fun and interesting to watch who listens to our music and in which countries. Since the release of our EP, our streams have really been boosted and we’re so grateful. If we count all the streaming platforms, the top 3 in countries that listen to us the most are the USA, Germany and Russia.
Pix666: In March you signed to the German label Cold Transmission Music? What advantages do you hope to gain from this deal and how did the contact with Germany come about?
Gaelle: A few months ago, Suzy and Andy contacted us because they liked our track Keep Your Eyes Peeled and wanted to put it on their Zeitgeist compilation, it was a real honour for us. Right after de release of our first EP, they offered us to join the Cold Transmission family. Things just happened naturally, Suzy and Andy are lovely people very smart, professional and very attentive. We really have this family feeling and we are sure that our collaboration will be wonderful.
Pix666: You have planned the release of another EP for this year, but the pandemic unfortunately still has us in its grip, in Germany we are even in a lockdown again. Nevertheless, is ULTRA SUNN already planning some concerts for this year, maybe around the time of the EP release?
Gaelle: We are currently working on our second EP. We hope that with the vaccination, the situation will be resolved after the summer. We remain optimistic ! We already have gigs booked but everything remains on hold for everyone for the moment. One thing is certain, we will be more than ready for this moment and we will be happy to share our music with everybody. We need to find the recklessness and the party again.
Pix666: How hard is the pandemic hitting you? How does it currently look financially for your band when you could hardly play concerts and still can’t play? How do you keep your heads above water – is there cool ULTRA SUNN merch to buy?
Sam: We’re lucky our records are selling well. It’s not an easy period but we keep the faith and focus on the future. About Merch we have T-shirts, Tote bags, masks and till some copies of the EP. Everything is available via our Bandcamp
Pix666: What is the current situation in Belgium and especially the mood among the people?
Sam: It is probably the same as in Germany, the suffering is very palpable among the youngest, the students but also for the hairdressers, restaurateurs, tattooers etc. who can no longer work. It can also be complex to have to obey rules that don’t mean much to us like no moving around or just living at night. It’s a little hard to notice that our government cares about big business and supermarkets but not culture and music and prefers to sacrifice the mental health of thousands of people in distress. We often feel like we were left behind before the pandemic and found our way of life.
Before, it’s like if the political world didn’t know we existed and at this point we just want them to forget about us again.On the other hand, we have really witnessed an important awareness around us. Especially with regard to police violence and the place of black and asian people in our society. It feels like they have more voice and that people educate themselves on these topics and try to make things better. There is still a lot of work to do but this period probably intensified things and marked the start of a new era, at least we hope so! I think that the new generations are thirsty for justice and equality. We really hope to achieve something more peaceful and that people will listen to each other in the future.
Pix666: As a musician, you surely spend most of your time creating music – but what else do you do in your free time when you want to distract yourself – are there any interesting hobbies you pursue?
Gaelle: it’s true that we are in the studio a lot. the rest of the time we love going to see exhibitions, paintings and archeology. Walking in nature, by the sea or in the forest, spending time with our families, our close friends and of course our pets. We watch fashion shows online. We also like to get behind our decks and make DJ sets together. And before the pandemic, lots of concerts of course!
Pix666: Do you have any other news about your band that you would like to share with the fans?
Gaelle & Sam: The next EP is planned for the fall, we can’t wait to share our new songs and find the closeness with the public again !
Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Good luck with your EP and stay healthy!!!
Gaelle & Sam: Thank you for the cool chat 🙂
photos © ULTRA SUNN