Music

DJ Sun Pens A Loveletter To His Youth

DJ Sun will release his latest album Loveletter and celebrate with a live performance featuring a 14 piece orchestra at The University of Houston on Saturday, July 23.
DJ Sun will release his latest album Loveletter and celebrate with a live performance featuring a 14 piece orchestra at The University of Houston on Saturday, July 23. Loveletter album artwork by Jordan Owen
DJ Sun is a Houston legend. He is a nine time recipient of the Houston Press award for DJ of the Year and a member of the Houston Press Hall of Fame. His three decade career has focused on creating dreamy and eclectic songs that have made him a hometown favorite as well as the owner of The Flat.

This Saturday, July 23, DJ Sun presents his new album Loveletter with a special performance at the University of Houston’s Moores Opera House with The Loveletter Orchestra and many special guests. The album will be available for streaming and on vinyl that day.

“It is a one of a kind sort of thing and I'm really happy and proud to be a part of it,” says Sun who collaborated with conductor Marlon Chen to create the orchestra for this challenging venture.

The event will also feature Fat Tony, Louis Morales of DEM, Chris Dave & Drumhedz, conductor Marlon Chen and vocals by DJ Sun’s daughter SAM/SIN. Visuals for each track will play in the background during the performance which will be taped not only to capture this distinctive event but in order to present it and hopefully be able to perform it again in other venues.

There will also be spoken word performance by Houston Poet Laureate Outspoken Bean and an opening reception featuring artwork by DUAL in which proceeds will benefit DJ Chicken George's treatment for cancer.

Sun, who studied business at The University of Houston, was able to conceive and complete this ambitious project through a grant awarded by The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center For The Arts and support from the Blaffer Art Museum and support from The Moores School of Music.

Sun was inspired to write Loveletter after a trip to New York where the sights and sounds took him back to his youth in Rotterdam and his time traveling around the culturally rich area.

“It reminded me of where I grew up when I was a kid and then you think back to crushes and back to these romantic flashbacks of the place where you grew up. It’s not just love for a person but love for a place as well. It took me back to those sentimental times when you were still doing that,” he says, describing the lost art of writing someone a love letter.

Loveletter captures the essence of youth and has many references and sounds to reflect life around water and the oceans, a large part of Sun's experiences growing up.

“I like doing things conceptually so I find sources that convey that particular concept that I'm trying to cover and then I find slow, dreamy beats. Then I have the ability to put a lot of chords in what I do and that's how it comes together.”

Much like the effect of a romantic crush, Loveletter is a trancelike and at times sensual experience where Sun stayed true to his well known, trademark lo-fi sound. The album is a beautiful and thoughtful sonic reflection of the euphoric result of love and sometimes disorienting result of stepping back into ones memories.

“The style of music that I do some people would refer to it as ‘lo-fi’ but before the term lo-fi came into existence, I was already doing this. I'm just staying true to the aesthetics of what I started with.”

“The style of music that I do some people would refer to it as ‘lo-fi’ but before the term lo-fi came into existence, I was already doing this. I'm just staying true to the aesthetics of what I started with.”

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A main element to Sun’s music has always been his ability to pull from so many cultures, no doubt the effect of his own multi-cultural background and many years of living in Houston. He references the variety of languages that can be heard on the patio of The Flat on any night of the week to highlight our city’s diversity.

“It’s something I've been very fortunate to have had in my lifetime. I was born in Europe to Caribbean people. I was able to go to the Caribbean and end up in Texas and then my ancestry is Chinese as well. I’m very fortunate to have been in different places but also exposed to music and really searching for music when I was a kid.”

His desire to find and create new sounds will be taken to a new level with his performance of Loveletter where he and his team have assembled an orchestra from scratch and worked tirelessly to arrange his songs into playable pieces.

“When you're in the studio and you're creating these things on drum machines, you're able to bring in chords and instruments. You’re basically conducting and putting the parts together in some borrowed time. It’s not real time, you can actually stop what you're doing, process things and then loop it around a few times. The challenge then becomes to actually play this live to have a live interpretation of it.”

Sun reached out to frequent collaborator Tim Ruiz, who will be performing as well, to help with the process of translating the sounds created in the studio to readable sheet music for the orchestra. Sun, who is not classically trained as a musician, relied on his collaborators to help him finalize his conceptual vision for the Loveletter Orchestra.

“I wanted to play instruments and be a musician and didn’t really have the opportunity to do so. It was through DJing that I was able to move into the realm of music production as well through looking at the culture of how electronic music was produced and how hip hop early days was produced and then using those types of instruments like drum machines but for me, adding the keyboard element is key.”

DJ Sun and the Loveletter Orchestra will perform his new album Loveletter in its entirety on Saturday, July 23 at The University of Houston's Moores Opera House, 3333 Cullen.  Reception at 6:30, concert at 8 p.m. $5.
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.
Contact: Gladys Fuentes