YouKnowIGotSoul Interview With Sunshine Anderson
How do you think you would feel when after ten years of being in the music industry, making real music, really singing and staying true to r&b, when you turn on the radio not only do you NOT hear your own music, but you hear that of less talented singers than yourself? Must be a pretty crappy feeling huh? Well that’s the position Sunshine Anderson has been in over her career, and all she’s done is make good music. It’s really more a testament to the state of r&b than the quality of the music she’s putting out. In this interview we discuss her third album “The Sun Shines Again,” her work with producer Mike City over here career, her trips to Twitter jail, the challenges facing her as an independent artist, her other career working in a hair salon, and how doing hair is just like making music.
YouKnowIGotSoul: First off I want to congratulate you on the release of your album “The Sun Shines Again.” How are you feeling with the release of this album?
Sunshine Anderson: You know I’m feeling real good, like I can’t be stopped right now, life is great!
YKIGS: Since it’s been about a month since the release of the album, if you could rate it with a letter grade, how would you rate everything that’s gone on since the release?
Sunshine: I definitely have to say an A, definitely A. Obviously there’s always a few kinks to be worked out, but after three years I feel that I’m being well received by my fans. As a matter of a fact I’m in Twitter jail right now because I’ve been on Twitter all morning. *Laughs* They make me feel so good sometimes I get tears in my eyes because I’m in such a good place right now. But I definitely have to give it an A, yes.
YKIGS: I wanted to actually ask you about Twitter because I’m following you on there I see you interacting with your fans a lot on there. How has social networking changed the way you do things and how has it changed the way you interact with your fans?
Sunshine: It’s really crazy that you asked me that because I’m so Sunshine, but I have to…sometimes I wonder if I’m being too real? Am I saying too much? Then I feel like Twitter is the one place, I always say it’s the one place where you could be exactly who you are, and then one of my girlfriends says “Yea it’s the one place you could be anybody else too!” Then I always say I can’t nobody but Sunshine, so if I’m giving too much, or saying too much, it is what it is, but it makes it so much better to be out and to be able to almost reach out and touch them. Like when I get responses back that say “Oh my God Sunshine Anderson just ReTweeted what I said!” But I spoke to one guy this morning and he was like “Hey bay bay” and I was like “Hey Baby!” So he was like “Oh my God I’m grinning ear to ear right now, I cannot lie!” It’s almost like stop it, little old me? I love to be able to touch them and to talk to them personally and have them be able to say…even those that say “Well I didn’t really like that last record” or “I didn’t really like that song.” It’s just a great way to be able to interact and I’m so glad I have that opportunity.
YKIGS: Yea I was going to ask you, do these fans give you real criticism and real feedback on your music? If they don’t like something, do they let you know that?
Sunshine: I think they do. I haven’t had a lot of those but I think they do. Of course the haters are always running rampant, although I haven’t had that many experiences with the haters on twitter. *Laughs* I’ve had a few. It’s amazing, like I say, everybody is entitled to their opinion and how they feel, and that’s cool, and I’m entitled to mine cool, so it’s great.
YKIGS: Back to your new album, you chose the title “The Sun Shines Again.” What made you go with that title?
Sunshine: I went with “The Sun Shines Again” because this album is a relationship album as you can tell, and there are those songs on the album that kinda really let me guys have it, I’m kinda known for that, honest and raw, saying exactly as it is. But at the same time, I love my fellas, so it was almost like how can I reflect on the positive side of my life right now, how can I reflect on all the good things that are going on in my life. I know about “Heard It All Before” and I know “Something I Wanna Give You” and now “You Aint Gotta Lie to Kick It” that it kinda looks like “Ooh she’s a men basher, she’s always talking junk.” But yea I am, step your game up, definitely step your game up! But I wanted to reflect, like I said, on the more positive side of my life which is the fact I’ve had a third opportunity to do this again. So “The Sun Shines Again,” I’m back. The last album was “Sunshine at Midnight,” I was kinda in a dark place or in a situation where I kinda wanted to let people know that you could shine even in the darkness of night. But now with “The Sun Shines Again” I’m back, I am woman hear me roar!
YKIGS: *Laughs* I had a chance to listen to your album a few times through, and wanted to know what made you decide to go with “Lie to Kick It” as the first single?
Sunshine: I can’t really say that it was my decision. The label definitely likes what it likes, and everyone considers everyone’s opinion, but the label really liked “Lie to Kick It,” that’s one of the main records they heard and to why they even signed my deal. So they definitely liked that record and why not? I think that’s what people are used to hearing from me.
YKIGS: Can I ask what your choice would have been for the first single?
Sunshine: Honestly my first choice probably would have been “Say Something,” and “Say Something” was going to be the second single. The only, only, only reason I picked “Say Something” was because of the fact they had heard “Heard It All Before” and “Something I Wanna Give You” and I was just talking so much junk and I was like I want people to hear the different side. I knew the critics were going to come out and say what they said on my last album, “Not much has changed for Sunshine in the last six years, she’s still angry.” Like I said, that’s so not know I am, my real name is Sunshine. More than anything, I just felt like my audience and the fellas needed to hear a record like “Say Something” from me.
YKIGS: I wanted to share with you my favorite on the album and that’s the song “Call My Own.” Can you give me some background on that one?
YKIGS: Yea I like that one a lot!
Sunshine: Okay you like that one, that’s great! “Call My Own” is kinda like I’m tired, I’m tired of always having to share him or him wanting to be shared, and at the end of the record I kinda say he’s mine, this boy is mine, don’t touch him and there again, I’m tired. It’s like when is God going to send me something that’s mine and I know he’s out there, so I’m just going to be patient and wait for that one that I can call mine. It is true, I still believe in love and I believe in marriage even though mine didn’t work out, and I believe that there is that one that God is going to send to me that’s just for me, that’s my own.
YKIGS: On this album I know you collaborated on most of the songs with Mike City the producer, who’s worked on all of your albums. Talk to me about your relationship with him and how you guys work together?
Sunshine: City and I are good friends and City really raised me in music. I learned structure from Mike City, and as far as structure I mean structure in a song, first verse, second verse, the climax, the bridge. I just learned structure, I learned simplicity from Mike City, he’s very good at what he does, he’s a great writer. He has this amazing ability to be able to write from my standpoint, standing in my shoes, he really sees my heart on a record. We have these long conversations where I just be venting and then I get to L.A. and there’s these beautiful songs written like “Call My Own,” like “My Life Back.” It’s just amazing, like I said, the viewpoint that he could see things from. So he’s a good dude, he’s got a new family, two little girls and a new wife; he’s a really great guy.
YKIGS: I actually had a chance to interview him last month and he told me the story about how you guys met in college and everything. About this new album, he told me people might not get it right away, but down the line he thinks it will be considered a classic. How do you respond to that?
Sunshine: You know what, you’ll hear me use that word ‘amazing’ a lot, I’m sorry, the opportunity there again is really amazing, but I’m feeling that way. When you’ve been through what I’ve been through in the music industry sometimes it’s hard for you to see your worth, sometimes it’s hard for you to see yourself like others see you. We recorded this record and it was great but I think the feedback that I’m getting is making me feel even stronger about how far this record can really go. It’s funny you said “Call My Own” because I was out in U.K. I was on the phones for about six hours doing U.K. interviews and “Call My Own” came up a few times. It’s a little different over there, they play all of the songs, they really listen to the record. I got off the phone and my chest was really sticking out like you know what, maybe this can be what it was like I dreamt it. Maybe this dream can really happen like I dreamt it. So I feel really good about that, I feel really good about him saying that. It’s funny because the other day I got in my girlfriend’s car and she had my album playing and I was in Atlanta with one of my girlfriends and she had my album playing. Your friends are your friends and they love you because they love you, but it wasn’t like that with the last album. I am definitely reminded of who I am by my friends and this might be a great album and with all my Twitter and Facebook love, so yea I think this could be a classic record. I don’t think…I agree with City, that people may definitely once they get the hang of it and once they catch on, yes this could definitely be another classic.
YKIGS: I want to hear your opinion on “The Sun Shines Again” in comparison to your first two albums. Do you feel like you’ve grown over the course of these albums? Tell me about that.
Sunshine: Oh yes I’ve definitely grown, I can see the growth. I really hate that people missed the second album “Sunshine at Midnight,” there was great production on that album, Mike City again, Dr. Dre, Raphael Saadiq, I wrote on six songs on that album. So I definitely saw the growth from the first to the second and there was six years in between those albums and anybody would grow up hopefully. So I definitely saw the growth and like I said, I’m really sad that a lot of people missed that record. As far as the growth from this one to the next, I definitely think it’s there, my voice has changed as it does, sometimes it changes from day to day. But my voice to me is a lot stronger and a lot more mature and my subject matter is definitely mature and I feel really good about where I’ve come.
YKIGS: You mentioned your second album, there’s a song on that album I love and that’s “Problems,” the one Dr. Dre produced, man that song is crazy!
Sunshine: Woooo! You know what, if you had heard the original version, because Dre went in and did the record again, as you know he really changed his mind a lot. *Laughs* But the original version of that song, which the song that I perform sometimes “My Problems,” is a real intimate record, it was real down home. I love the new “Problems,” I’m not mad at it at all, but the new “Problems” kinda took away from the intimacy of the original record but great record, great record, I call it my recession record. That record was actually the third single on the last album and I think radio had a hard time with it because the chorus says I wish I could smoke and drink my life away. But if you listen to the record and you really close your eyes and let it take you there, then you could feel what I was feeling and what I was going through and I was trying to express a lot of things that were going on around me at that time. I’m so glad you pointed that record out because I love performing that record, I love it!
YKIGS: Is there any chance we’ll get to hear that original version of it?
Sunshine: Probably not, unless you’re at a performance. I definitely don’t think it will hit radio but hopefully you could get to a performance and we’ll make that happen definitely.
YKIGS: Well then you’re going to need to come to New York City to perform because I wanna hear that! *Laughs*
Sunshine: I know right! I know! I will make sure.
YKIGS: Now that you’re on an independent label, what do you see as the biggest challenge?
Sunshine: My last album was independent, I was actually signed to my own label with a joint venture with Music World, Matthew Knowles, so this isn’t the first time independent. What I have to say this time the biggest challenge is is the whole urban adult contemporary and urban mainstream, and you get categorized as this or categorized as that. They can’t play your song on the radio because of this or they can’t play your song on the radio because of that, it can be frustrating. I listen to mainstream radio, honestly, I want my record to be playing on mainstream radio and that’s just how I feel. I aint mad at adult contemporary but to me, and I might not supposed to say this, but to me if your record isn’t played on mainstream radio, the masses don’t know it’s out. So because they don’t know it’s out, you work 20 times as hard. It’s always like that for me anyway because I don’t put an album out every year consecutively, so it’s always a catch up task. But like I said, if your song isn’t on mainstream radio, then you’ve got to work even harder. It’s hard living in the city where I’m from, I moved back to Charlotte about a month ago now, my home town, and it’s hard if your song isn’t playing on the radio station you listen to. Then you run into people in the street and they go like “Oh hey what you doing?” And you be like “Oh my album came out, but they’re not playing it on the radio.” So it can be frustrating but hey, you get out, you work the record, you mingle with people, it’s a long haul, but I’m up for the challenge. There’s a lot to be done, there’s a lot of work to be done.
YKIGS: How does that make you feel? You mention you listen to mainstream radio, you’re someone who has a very good singing voice, and you might hear some people on the radio who can’t really sing but their songs are still getting on the radio. Does that frustrate you?
Sunshine: It’s very frustrating. It’s very frustrating for my mom who is 61 years old sometimes will say “You know, they played her record 10 times today, 10 times, why can’t they play your record?” Or they will play “Heard It All Before,” I’ve even heard “Heard It All Before” everyday. My mom is like “Why can’t they play ‘Lie to Kick It,’ I don’t understand!” It is frustrating, it is. But like I said, it’s part of the challenge today, you have to prove yourself, you have to continue to prove yourself each time, you’re only as hot as your last song. It’s challenging, it’s frustrating, but hey, you gotta make it work.
YKIGS: Your Twitter bio mentions you are a licensed cosmetologist representing Blendz Midtown Salon in Atlanta. Tell me about this.
Sunshine: I always, always, always wanted to open my own salon, and hair has been just a big a passion as music for me. So I almost, well I had enrolled in hair school when Matthew Knowles called, so I had to go back to the lady and say look, just put my stuff on hold until I could put the record out. So after the second album, I got pregnant obviously and I had my daughter, and I thought now you’ve got the down time. Where I come from it’s called putting a few irons in the stove, you’ve got to keep a couple of irons in the stove, you’ve got to keep a couple of pots burning on the stove. So I said hey, I’m going and I finished in December of last year, ’09, I started working at Blendz in January of this year at the west end, we have two locations. Polly who is the salon owner is a dear friend of mine, I’ve known her and she’s been doing my hair, and Blendz is the only salon that I’ve been to in Atlanta, Georgia in the seven years I’ve been there. Like I said she’s a great friend, and I spoke to her about what I wanted to do, and she said “You know what, why don’t you go to school, you’ll love it, and when you finish I’ll teach you everything you need to know.” So that’s what I did, I finished in December, started my training in January and I was licensed in April, we opened up our second location which is Blendz Midtown on Ponce De Leon, we opened that location up in April and Polly put me on the floor. So I had my share of clients and it was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I knew that people wouldn’t get it, and I knew that again the haters would run rampant, but I aint got to explain it to nobody, I bet you I will never be broke, I bet you will hear my name whether it’s singing, whether it’s hair, or whatever it is, so that’s my explanation. I am probably the only one who can explain to you how hair is just like music and how when you go in the studio, the first thing you hear is the track, the first thing you hear is the beat. Then you gotta go in and lay them background vocals first so you know where, that’s your structure, that’s what I learned from Mike City, you go in and lay them background vocals first. And that’s just like when you’re shampooing your hair and you’re conditioning it, that’s your track. Then I rolled your hair, and sat you under the dryer, and that’s your background vocals. Then when you come up from under the dryer, I start my styling process and those are the lead vocals. Then I spray that last bit of finishing spray and those are my ad-libs. Then you walk out of the salon feeling good and fresh and beautiful, and I got a hit on my hands. So it’s what else, why not, why wouldn’t I have done it? Like I said I moved back to my home town of Charlotte, I want to open my salon here, I feel like I have more of a name here and I might get lost with all the things that are going on in Atlanta. You will hear about that salon, you definitely will hear about it.
YKIGS: Well Sunshine that’s all the questions I had prepared, is there anything you’d like to add?
Sunshine: I just want to say thank you to you, thank you for keeping me alive and giving me the opportunity to do this thing. I just want to invite people again to come go on this journey with me. I do music because I love it, I’m not here to knock anyone out of the way, or push anybody to the side, but I’m here, so come go on this journey with me.