Daredevil Christopher Wright's J.E. Sunde Reemerges Solo

J.E. Sunde | 7th St. Entry | Saturday, January 3
"It's so interesting to see the little --" Jon Sunde pauses as he tried to find the most PC term to describe the musical cliques around town "-- groups of musicians here in the Cities. It's interesting to see how people keep to their groups, yet everyone knows each other." On a snowy Saturday morning after Christmas, the once Eau Claire-based musician describes his acclimation to Minneapolis in a small St. Paul coffee shop.

Sunde, who musically goes under the name J.E. Sunde, is also going through another acclimation: from lead singer of the Daredevil Christopher Wright to his project as a solo artist. [jump]
Two men in the small shop greet each other loudly over the jazz playing on the speakers, and the shop owner tells a customer who notices the drinks are named after jazz greats that they're "just trying to keep jazz alive." When a man opens the door a titch too long, Sunde pretends not to notice -- even if the cold makes him uncomfortable.

The singer, dressed appropriately for the cold in a blue plaid shirt, doesn't mull over his responses long before he answers. This guy has been in the business long enough to know what's worked for him and what hasn't; his experience can be heard in each detailed reply.

Sunde grew up in Amery, a small town in northwestern Wisconsin that has recently seen a boom because of a group associated with the Hungry Turtle Farm that specializes in farm-to-table dining and putting on special concerts that draw folks out of the city.

Sunde eventually migrated to Eau Claire when he realized he wanted to make a go in music. He found kindred musical spirits in Jesse Edgington and his brother Jason Sunde and formed the Daredevil Christopher Wright. The group toured successfully, and the three were able to sustain themselves on the road, but that was due to them living lean while on tour and living with the Sundes when they were home.

The Eau Claire scene was and still is a tight knit group. Jon shares, "One of the most beautiful things in my experience was that -- at that time -- it was small enough that if you wanted to be a part of the music scene, you could. There was no gatekeeper.

"When we began as the Daredevil Christopher Wright, we were so wrapped up in the community. In the midst of that, Bon Iver shot to the moon. When that happened, the whole scene was electric with this sense that we were drunk by proximity. It's like, 'He did this, so we're all gonna make it!' Your imagination runs away with you, and it's generally a fairly innocent thing, but sometimes you aren't being reflective or careful with your expectations."

JE Sunde - Easy Kid (Live) from Elder on Vimeo.

Those expectations eventually led to the group going on hiatus at the end of 2012. "We were a little unbalanced and exhausted after 10 years of touring," he continues. "That was when I decided to take some time off and work with my dad and make my solo album."

The tracks on Shapes That Kiss the Lips of God have an obvious Daredevil-esque feel, since Sunde was the principal songwriter in that band, but as a solo project the songs take on a subtler Cat Stevens quality.

The shift in his musical career has rejuvenated his passion for creating. "As the band got burned out, the creative work suffered," he says. Much of that rejuvenation came from taking a step back and growing up a little.

He continues, "I hate how we base people's worth on their careers. I'm 30 years old now, and I'm still wrestling with figuring out what I'm doing -- but I've come to terms with doing something in music. As a society, we dismiss and dismantle our dreams quickly because of standards and this vague responsible track we're supposed to follow. I don't know where dreams fit for everyone, but we should take our passions more seriously. I heard this on a radio show -- and it's what's kept me going in music -- that the most creative and productive people align their passions and attitudes in their work. If we choose to deny our passions, it will impoverish us."

Even if his direction in music had not given him a boost, his move to the Twin Cities certainly has changed him. Over the years of touring, Sunde made many friends in the Cities, and he's looking to do more collaborative work in this community. He adds, "Moving here, I was really reluctant, but I realized that I need to be compelled to go to a big city -- and places like New York were too big for me. Minneapolis is perfect, but I also realized wherever you resonate with, you can be the person you want to be."

J.E. Sunde will perform at the 7th St. Entry with Holly Hansen and the Multiple Cat on Saturday, January 3, 2015. 18+, $8 adv, $10 door, 8 p.m. Purchase tickets here.


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