Release Date 10/13/2021
(Mom + Pop) SubModern, AAA
Orion Sun’s music has a profound gravitational pull. Since the mid-2010s, the 24-year-old singer/songwriter/producer has released transformative, intimate soul that sounds atmospheric, yet grounded. By creating a listening experience that’s both heady and guarded, Orion Sun has cemented herself as one of alternative R&B’s most pivotal artists.
“Concrete” marries hard-hitting percussion with vulnerable lyrics that address both romantic emotions and her appreciative feelings toward her family and ancestors. “Whenever the negativity gets too loud, I just think about the people in my life that are positive and are rooting for me,” she explains. “And that gives me a lot of comfort.”
That’s something of a theme for the South Jersey-raised, Brooklyn-based artist, who first found her creative voice in high school. A music teacher took her under his wing, before passing away unexpectedly shortly before Orion Sun’s junior year was set to begin. In 2013, she decided to take music seriously in his honor, and uploaded an original acoustic single to YouTube titled “Voicemail.” With a lilting, honeyed voice laid over gentle guitar strums, Orion Sun introduced listeners to her tender songwriting, inviting us to be a part of her love-drenched world.
Her early influences, detectable in “Voicemail,” included alternative R&B trailblazers like Corinne Bailey Rae, Lianne La Havas, and Lauryn Hill, as well as gospel titans like Kirk Franklin, John P. Kee, and Fred Hammond. But Orion Sun is quick to acknowledge the magical jazz of Billie Holiday and the deep soul of Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder as her most influential sources.
While music eventually called to her, Orion Sun “dreamed a lot,” she says. She imagined herself as a fashion designer, a lawyer, a teacher, a librarian—even as an astronaut, which ultimately impacted her stage name. She attributes her limitless mindset to her parents, who specialized in fine art and created a newspaper comic strip together after meeting in art school. She and her siblings later lived in a single-parent household—one that eventually came apart at the seams, despite her mother’s best efforts. Her family lost their home, and Orion Sun began expressing her anxieties through her music. Compared to her lovelorn early work, her songs got heavier.
A Collection of Fleeting Moments and Daydreams, released in 2017, and Hold Space for Me, from 2020, both reverberate with an intense yearning: not only for love but for stability and normalcy. Lyrically, she continued to address her affectionate side, but the production became more dense and heartrending, reflecting the course of her life. “I think those projects had been made in a survival mode,” Orion Sun admits, “where I’m homeless or my family’s homeless. Or I was able to afford an apartment, but everyone else is still in a hotel.” The musician also lost a close friend during that time, which took a toll on her emotional and mental health.
Orion Sun has proven that she can do it all on her own. But by gathering talented minds together to help and teach her, she’s allowing herself to focus on what makes her voice and songwriting so captivating. She’s long been able to deftly handle weighty subject matter, but with extra hands around, Orion Sun’s songs are only getting sharper, heavier, and more moving.