If there’s ever any doubt regarding the fortune that fate can wield, look no further than Nepal/ Melbourne duo Suneden. Following their chance meeting in Pokhara, the pair have gone on to craft a soulful amalgam of dream-psych-funk made to both memorise and move listeners. With their long-awaited debut single Sampana Ko Samaya fresh off the press, we spoke online about how their journey has informed their music.
After moving to Nepal from Melbourne to “live life whilst playing music”, Eden Lee was unaware her path would soon intersect with Sunny Thapa in 2016. Bonding over Stevie Wonder and a shared passion for music, the two felt a gravitational pull to form Suneden. With Lee ensconced in the artform from a young age through her father’s musicianship, Thapa had no such familial ties, embracing his elevated emotional responses to music; “I just loved listening and just having the love of the sounds”. As the contractive nature of their title implies, the couple’s connection is one deeply grounded in music.
Soon after forming, the duo dove headfirst into the thriving Nepalese music scene within their town of Pokhara; “Its massive! There’s live music in every bar, every single night and everyone you meet is a musician. There’s a lot of rock, jazz, reggae, blues… a bit of everything”. As Lee describes, an industrious attitude toward gigging permitted Suneden to quickly hone their craft with regular live spots; “We had probably four or five venues that we played at, just doing gigs 5 nights a week and every week it revolved around playing at those places”.
Moving back to Melbourne 2 years ago, Lee was keen to show her partner what her hometown had to offer; “I wanted to show Sunny my side of the world, so we decided to pack up and move over here for a while”. Their departure came a little sooner than first expected, however, resulting in a harsh snap back to a different reality ; “We actually started to do some recordings and then Sunny got a visa to come to Australia and so we packed up and left and it all happened really quickly. It was actually hard to come back to the real world”.
Since arriving in Melbourne, Thapa has been excited with what the Australian scene has to offer following their East Coast tour last year; “I’d definitely say it’s a lot bigger. There’s a lot of variety of music that I’ve never actually experienced before. Styles you’ll just never hear in Nepal”. Whilst here, they’ve ascribed themselves to local record label Side Stare Music, garnering gigs and catalysing a union with The Seg Street Jam whom Suneden play band room’s with. It’s extended the duo’s capacity to not only captivate listeners but ignite dancefloor’s; “We love playing at all the breweries and stuff, but that’s all a bit more formal. I think we definitely thrive in a bar with a lot of friends around where it’s a bit of fun.”
Though active for many years, time constraints and travel has impeded Suneden’s ability to accrue recorded material until only recently. Sampana Ko Samaya, translated from Nepali meaning “dreamtime”, exudes what its name implies as the pair’s first single. The 13-minute trip saunters through psychedelic, shoegazey funk with ethereal harmonies and a sitar to top things off (played by Sarita McHarg) all the while bearing a strong significance; “This song’s pretty special to us. It’s about our journey between Nepal and Australia and all the changes in the song represent all the changes we’ve been through”. As Sunny elaborates, the movements through each section were governed by stylistic choices made to reflect their experiences; “I had this idea of having happiness at the start, so I worked with major and minor chords before adding diminished ones to give the song its downfall and sadness. The middle section is a more chill and ambient style which really suits the sitar progression, the proper Indian cultural sound. The end is a bit of fast funk to make it dancey and groovy”.
Despite its length, the song was recorded within 2 days. Extensive jamming and gigging meant they were more than familiar with the material; “When we first made this song, because it became such a giant jam, we’d do gigs with the band and sometimes we’d jam it in band prac and sometimes it would go for 20 minutes. We’d have to say, ‘Uh maybe we should cut this down a little bit’ (laughs)”. Recorded at The Stained Daisies former Brunswick home/ studio, the speed with which it was finished is a feat the duo also attribute to their session musicians; “We had Jack Davison on keys and Aidan Bateman on drums ( The Stained Daisies). Aiden is such a great drummer. Being a musician he knew exactly what I wanted and it was so easy to talk to him about how the song goes and how the layers add and build up and what would be the main part and how its gonna rise and fall”.
With a view to further recordings in the near future and a vinyl release to come late this year, Suneden are looking to make the most of their Australian sojourn before returning to Nepal. Whilst this underscores the necessity for locals to experience what Eden and Sunny have to offer, there remains hope of more journeys back; “I think Sunny’s found a second home in Australia now”.
Sampana Ko Samaya is available through all streaming services NOW. Go update your playlists and give it a whirl.