Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Kaleb Hikele is the brilliant artist and musician behind the project The Sun Harmonic. A classically trained pianist and a gifted folk/rock songsmith, The Sun Harmonic began a solo career in 2009 and is now accompanied by his rock band and even string orchestras. Kaleb’s 2019 has been undoubtedly the most ambitious year we’ve seen from the artist so far. The Sun Harmonic has gained an impressive following with his music. Releasing a live album titled “Sunshine in the Jazz Room” in April 2019, the indie artists showed no signs of slowing down. He quickly followed this up with singles “In The Forest” and “A Heart So Heavy”, which amassed an incredible amount of streams.
From his emotionally-rich lyrics to his smooth sultry delivery, The Sun Harmonic can’t be pigeon-holed to one genre. Out now is The Sun Harmonic’s 4-track live EP “At Home In The Townhouse” that features 3 brand new tracks ranging from smooth ballads to hard-hitting folk-rock like “We Are Not Alone”. The Sun Harmonic is an artist with an endless amount of motivation, ambition, and incredible music. He pours his heart and soul into every release and is overflowing with passion for his music. Stay tuned for more!
Listen to The Sun Harmonic’s new music here!
Welcome back to BuzzMusic! It’s such a pleasure to be chatting with you again. "A Heart So Heavy" is the perfect track to introduce new listeners to your sound in 2019. Where did you draw inspiration for this particular track?
Hey Buzz! Nice to chat again, thanks for the nice words. It's a good song to make introductions, definitely straight from my heart and similar to my latest records. To be honest, of all my releases I feel like Heart So Heavy is going to be the end of the line for my melancholy dramatic piano ballads (for now...) I knew that I'd release that song as a strong follow up to my Winter album (2017) for style and consistency, but the two projects I'm working on at the moment reach far from that sound. More guitars, strumming, folk influence, and a few loud upbeat rock n' roll songs recorded by my rock band. 2020 will be fun! Oh, and to answer your question, I drew inspiration for Heart So Heavy by falling in love. People seemed to like that song, so love pays off in more ways than one.
“Love, A Mystery” is a great new track but it seems to have a meaningful message behind the lyrics. Can you tell us more about this song in particular?
Thank you! "Love" is one of those songs that when I wrote it I knew it was something special, but I forgot about it for a while. I've never played it live in front of an audience and I haven't recorded it onto the record, this live video I shot at home in the Townhouse studio is the only time I've performed it, really. It's a song I wrote for my girlfriend in the earliest of our days together, it actually is a song written during the pre-cursor to falling in love. An interesting comparison to Heart So Heavy actually. It's slow, repetitive, almost contemplative, it captures that feeling of falling into love and wondering where your life is going. Not stopping it or speeding it up, just enjoying it and thinking it through. The performance of that song (in the video on Youtube and as you hear on the new EP) is only myself with an electric guitar, singing to my Hammond organ playing a pre-recorded drum rhythm live in the room. Nothing is overdubbed or edited, you hear me turn it on and laugh a bit before I turn down the tempo to the slow burn that it is. I really loved shooting that video with my friend Joel, I dreamed of this video for a few months and then we just made it happen to squeeze it into a busy day. The emotion in that song is real, heavier than other songs I've presented, and so I'm taking my time with how to release it. But I'm proud of this abstract off-the-floor performance and I'm glad you like it!
Since you’ve been making music for several years, how would you compare some of the earlier material you’ve written to your newest release “At Home in The Townhouse”?
Oh boy, the big question. The earliest material I've written is so far out of reach I almost forget what it was written about, I don't remember how to play most of my riffs. Even songs by early Sun Harmonic albums let alone about 5 years worth of high school songs are pretty well forgotten. I wish I did remember how to play them! Sometimes I have to teach myself my own songs. Anyways, if we're talking about material from earlier in the Sun Harmonic days, the first half of the 2010's to now, I would say that my songs have grown inward. I'm not an introvert exactly, you're not allowed to be and remain truly striving as a musician at the same time. But I do find solace in writing songs alone, sometimes keeping them to myself for months or even years before I sing them for my family and close friends. So my songs have taken a path of becoming far more personal, mostly in brutally honest lyrics or by storytelling. When I was off the road and wasn't able to play the guitar for a while (doctors orders) I started writing stories from my childhood into my songs. That was the best move I've ever made, those songs still make me cry when I sing them - some audiences and strangers are surprised by that but most have found it endearing.
What is the overall theme and sentiments behind your new EP “At Home in The Townhouse”?
I should have mentioned this earlier, by saying that "At Home" is an acoustic EP of performances from my home studio, not necessarily new songs or a proper release per-say. The recordings are actually collected from audio recordings from video shoots filmed in my home studio over the last few years. In 2009 I opened (ready for this name?) "The Townhouse Recording Facility & Sound Studio" in the east end community of Toronto called Riverdale. Many local bands and many late nights in the studio washed over my early 20's and the walls have many stories to tell, but I always wished I had shot more video in that space. In 2018 I filmed a few songs in the basement studio and in 2019, after a massive overhaul of positive vibes at home and quite the killer renovation, I invited my friends to sing my newest song and film it lives in the living room. The 4-songs on the EP come from these projects: A Heart So Heavy, the latest single; All To Myself, an old 'wedding song' that is coming out on an LP next year; Love, A Mystery certainly IS a new song that is being quietly debuted as a solo song; We Are Not Alone, a harsh punk rock track about aliens I recorded solo but was released by King Snake Crawl on an EP in 2016. The reason I released this EP under Kaleb Hikele instead of The Sun Harmonic is it's personal and intimate nature, the performances are just me myself and guitar. Some with lifelong friends (Jen Routhier and Elise Heikkila of our mutual hometown St. Thomas) But largely it is Kaleb, not the grandiose production I've been trying to accomplish with the late Sun Harmonic recordings. And while people are listening to this, they can jump back 12 years (ugh, I'm gettin' old) and listen to my first solo album from high school, Hikele released in 2007 (later re-imagined and remastered in 2017)
How have you honed your songwriting style over time, and what do you think are the main qualities that make a song truly connect and last in the long-run?
A friend once told me that "no one could really sing my songs the way I do", this was a long time ago when my songs were, let's say, questionable, or different maybe. Although it could be taken as an insult that my songs weren't so easy to cover or imitate, I took it as a compliment knowing that I wasn't writing predictable and "normal" songs for a young kid. I'm still trying to write differently, whether it's defying genres from one song to another or internally changing chord progressions from predictable to alluring (or alarming). My favorite thing to do is to change what should be a major chord to a minor chord (see the pre-chorus in Winter's "As I Go Away") and any fellow fan of Thrice will laugh at that (I hope one out there reads this!)
Thank you so much for chatting with us. What else are you working on through the end of the year!?
You're welcome. Thank you! I am editing and carving out the recordings I made on the road traveling from Vancouver in 2015 to my east coast train trip out to Halifax in summer 2018. Then I will finish recording those songs and release the full album in 2020. Even sooner in December, I will be going into a beautiful countryside studio north of Toronto, recording with my rock band live off the floor. It'll be 5 rock and roll songs on one killer EP! I can't wait for that, my recent releases have humorously taken 5 to 8 years to create, this EP maybe two months at the most. That's exciting for an old pop-punk kid like me. Stay tuned.