An Interview with Avery Sunshine
By Chris Loeffler | (edited)
Would you mind sharing your decision to switch from a music program to Philosophy in college? How did that shift adjust your entry and tenure in music?
I changed my major when I realized that my applied piano professor did not approve of me playing anything other than classical music in the practice rooms. After four years of college as a piano major and feeling like my entire musical soul wasn’t being addressed, or even considered, I decided to change my major to one that would allow me to graduate in two semesters! Fortunately, changing my major made space for me to explore the music that I wanted to. I was no longer bound by the rules of that miopic music department.
Tell me about your songwriting process.
I write whenever and however. Sometimes I text lyrics to myself. Sometimes Dana will send me a track and I write to that. Sometimes we’re practicing backstage before a show with guitar and we get a song. Sometimes I get a full song. Lyrics, music, melody and all. Sometimes a song takes years for me to complete. It really does just depend on how the wind does or does not blow. Songs come to my husband all of the time. Not the same for me!
As someone who has enjoyed great success with other artists, how does collaboration come into play? What do you look for in a songwriting partner?
The best collaboration’s are when each partner allows the other to just BE. That’s when the magic happens. My favorite folks to collab with are Dana (for good reason lol), artists Eric Roberson and Alain Clark, and producer Daniel Moore. Collabs work best when we honor our own voice/ideas as well as your partner’s. I MUST feel like my thoughts and ideas are safe, respected and free from judgment BEFORE we even talk about writing. And I must extend the same courtesy. To quote a great poet of the 20th century, Erykah Badu, “I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my S*#t.” Lol
Do you have a dream lineup?
AVERY’S DREAM BAND:
Donny Hathaway - Rhodes and vocals
Aretha Franklin- piano and vocals
Steve Gadd- drums
Billy Preston - organ and vocals
Bobby Womack - guitar and vocals
James Jamerson - bass
DREAM LINEUP: Festival style
Hezekiah Walker & THE LFC CHOIR
If there is one thing you could ask of a new listener to Twenty Sixty Four, what would it be?
Listen to what makes you feel and want to be better.
I had the privilege of seeing you play through the Yamaha CP88 at Winter NAMM. What inspires you in a piano or keyboard, and how does it influence your playing or songwriting approach?
Awww thank you! We had so much fun at Winter NAMM. What an honor. And I LOOOOOOOOVE the CP88.
Every instrument has its own character, from the beautiful Yamaha C7 piano, to the CP88, to the Montage: and almost always that character inspires something different for and in me. That’s why I told my dear hubby/writing partner/engineer that I need a LEAST two of each of them in the studio!!!! Lol (Well, maybe not two.)
Would you describe the current music scene as you are experiencing it.
The rule in this current music scene seems to be YOU, the creator, decide what YOUR rules are. It’s inspiring. It’s an invitation for everyone to be as creative as they can possibly be barring any restrictions. It’s a great time to be a creator of music.
What are you listening to these days?
BOBBY WOMACK. From his own recordings to tunes that he’s written for other artists like George Benson. I LOVE Thundercat and VulfPeck. Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key Of Life” is in perpetual rotation . I’m also a fan of 19 year old daughter, DrewTheRew. She’s a pianist, producer, writer and singer. She’s got a track called “Ten Steps Back” on the album that I’m currently working on. These kids just hear music differently! I’m learning a lot.
Will you share anything about your current and upcoming projects?
Yes! For my new project, I am collaborating with my dear friend and colleague (I call him my younger brother) Daniel Moore. He’s actually Mariah Carey’s music director. Needless to say, he’s a pretty freaking fantastic pianist, keyboardist, singer, writer and producer. This is our (my husband and I) first time collaborating with someone for a full project. I am excited about this new space that I’m in and this new music. Of course, I think it’s my best work yet. Lol
The question we ask every artist, composer, and gear tech- How do YOU make better music?
I just make it honest. That way, no matter what, it will always be great.
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.
Edited by Chris Loeffler