Australian producer Sonny has released his debut album Union: Integration Of The Shadow. The album chronicles his journey of moving from Australia to Copenhagen, a musical migration that is quite rare for Aussies compared to Los Angeles or London. The album is only nine tracks, but it covers a lot of ground. It is grounded in house and spacey electronica, but it brings in psychedelic elements, pop songwriting and breezy indie rock. It is all held together by the watchful eye and production gumption of the Australian.
We asked Sonny to break down the album and he did just that for a new Director’s Cut piece. Take a listen to the full project as you read on for a deeper dive into each track and the creative process behind each one of them. It took him to places all over and you can hear it throughout the LP.
Get your copy of Union: Integration Of The Shadow here.
1. The Feels
This opening tune is essentially directed towards my fiancé, Julia. The track itself actually stemmed from a big jam I did with Kris Baha at his studio in Berlin. I remember it being quite late at night and we had a session open, riffing on this bassline I had. Some of the parts from that session made the base of the track, which I then wrote and structured back at home in my Copenhagen studio. The vocals came last, telling a story of the feels I have for my fiancé.
This one started out as an entirely different track! But, a few days before mixing I found a patch in my Waldorf synth, which changed the direction of the song completely. The original pads and arpeggios still worked with this funkier more infections bassline. The new chords I found also feature on “Transient Feeling.” The vocal samples a Japanese model talking about patience. This felt relevant to me as I felt my new life in Denmark was surrounded by Danish design and culture, which has links to Japanese design and architecture, especially with reference to the materials they use; both are based around using good materials and doing things with craft and patience. This is something I wanted to employ in my album. The name “Ozone” comes from my girlfriend being constantly on my mind: in my “Ozone” so to speak.
3. The Great Unknown
“The Great Unknown” was written as a reflection of camping in Australia. When I was living in Australia, I used to surf a lot and just before I left, I went on many surfing and camping trips with friends to get my final fix of Australian nature. I guess this track reflects on the idea of moving away and how it was a bit of a journey into the unknown, not knowing what Europe held for me.
I wrote “Euromantics” about the weekends I had in Copenhagen when I first moved here. I was new to the city, the music and the people, so I cut my teeth, exploring the city by night and making friends with likeminded people in the underground music scene.
5. This Will Be Our Year
There isn’t much back-story to this song. I sampled some Kookaburras, an Australian bird, when I was back in Australia for Christmas and I felt the song had some aspects of Australiana electronica to it. My fiancé, who is Swedish, provided some spoken words in Swedish describing her thoughts on our trip to Australia over Christmas, as this was her first-time visiting. Then I inter-weaved some vocals through it. I think looking back; it was also about my fiancé and I doing Christmas with my family in Australia for the first time. We weren't yet engaged at that time, but I knew I was going to ask her to marry me when I was there, so this song was almost a prediction for all the things I knew would be happening this year, like our wedding and moving to Stockholm together.
6. Transient Feeling
This is a purposefully high-tempo track, influenced by hiking culture and my friends from Norway having such an obsession with it. When making it, I imagined them trudging through the Norwegian forests in their techno hiking wear. It’s very playful and bouncy; it has a chug to it that makes you feel like you are hiking. I feel the track is maybe the most “house” sounding track on the album, mostly recorded on my Oberheim 12 and Tempest.
7. Liquid Phase
“Liquid Phase” took influence from the French band, Air and was written almost entirely on my Oberheim 12 alongside using my friends’ Roland TR-808; sonically it sits in the 90’s jazz/jungle vibe. I recorded this very syncopated and half time drum groove, which I then used to create the jungle groove in double time, giving the track a faster feeling than its actual tempo. The making of this track made me curious about playing with syncopation to create speed in place of just increasing tempo. The lyric “Liquid Phase” refers to when I first moved in with my fiancé; Julia and we were intensely folding into each other’s personalities and feelings, becoming nearly one person. The phrase “Liquid Phase” became a way to describe how things were going with us when friends ever asked. It alludes to the process of mixing together which happens when you are in a relationship, when you are learning everything about one another, being emotional in front of each other and just plainly doing everything together.
This song is about a Midsommer holiday I had with a group of friends at a place called Eksjö in Sweden. Midsommer is a classic annual celebration in Sweden, to celebrate the summer solstice, and it’s quite normal for Swedes to have a modest “Sommer house” or cabin that they usually celebrate at [editor's note: not like the movie ::wink::]. The summer cabin we stayed in was owned by one of my best friends, Clara, and I caught my first pike ever at the lake by the house. Musically, it’s very influenced, again, by the songs of the French band, Air. I used a long sample of ambient forest sounds I recorded there throughout the track, to bring in that sense of nature.
9. Sensory Systems
I wrote this song with my good friend from Melbourne, Kris Baha. Kris moved to Berlin around the same time as I moved to Copenhagen and we found it prosperous writing music together in his Berlin studio, whenever I would visit him. This song is a product of one of those many jam sessions, using his modular setup and Access Virus Ti2 synthesizer.