Checking into Sunshine Estates

Sunshine Estates is the solo project of Aaron Friedman, whom many might know from a local Sacramento-based band called The Greenlight District.  With help from friends such as Jordan Blake of Watchout! Theres Ghost and Chris Qualls of Electric Valentine, Aaron has established a musical vision that many will be able to sit back and enjoy.  With shades of pop and R&B, Sunshine Estates is guaranteed to bring a familiar smile to the face of many a music fan.  With an EP on the horizon entitled Bright Revelations, Highwire Daze decided to check into Sunshine Estates to find out more about Aaron and his wondrous musical venture… 

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Sunshine Estates, and how long the project has been together.
My name is Aaron Friedman. “Sunshine Estates” is my solo project….. I do the vocals and compose the songs with the help and support of some really rad producers. I started the project a little less then a year ago.

What other bands or projects were you in prior to Sunshine Estates?
Through my high school years I had a bunch of little projects. My first band ever was a hardcore/ screamo, the music was terrible but it was a good way to diffuse our teenage angst. I wanted to start writing music by myself without the confines of a band so I started a solo project called The Greenlight District which was kind of an electro/screamo/ rap kinda thing. I started it as a joke but the kids liked it so I just kinda went with it for awhile. A few of my friends joined and finally I realized I was ready to take my music to the next level.

Where are you from and what is your local music scene like there?
I’m from Sacramento. A few years ago I thought Sacramento had the best scene in the United States. I consider the golden years of Sacramento’s music scene to be when I was in middle school. Bands like A Skylit Drive, Dance Gavin Dance, Ten After Two, Elysia, Conducting from the Grave and Mozart Season were all local bands that just dominated. There would be sold out shows every week. Thats when Eric Rushing and the Artery Foundation really starting guiding the hardcore scene into what it is today. However the Sacramento scene hasn’t been the same since those bands took off. I think the Sacramento scene could flourish again, but it’s just been waiting for the right band to come along.

Where did you get the project name Sunshine Estates? It’s like the happiest band name I’ve ever heard 🙂
The name came to me on a trip to Tahoe with a couple of buddies of mine. I remember looking through my friends ipod and seeing names of bands that all had to do with death, sadness, and just unhappy stuff. I remember looking out the window and seeing how beautiful everything was and I realized I wanted to share that happiness and beauty with my fans rather then the darker side of things.

Describe your music to someone who has never heard it before…
I always have a difficult time with this question. The one thing I love about being a solo artist is really being able to experiment from song to song and not be restricted by a specific genre per say. However, I like to think of my music as heavily r&b and pop influenced.

What does Molto Bello mean and where did you get the ideas for the song lyrics?
Molto Bello is Italian for “everything’s beautiful” The reason why I love Italian so much, and especially this word, is because in English it sounds mundane, but in Italian it adds a darker more emotional level to it. For all of my songs, I compose the music first, and then add the words that fit the music. When I wrote Molto Bello, the words just kind of came to the song. My producer and cowriter for the three songs Molto Bello, Always About a Girl, and Rhythm & Movement, also helped me add the heavier feel to the songs.

Where did you get the ideas for some of your other song lyrics? Please cite two songs in particular and what the lyrics are about.
I’m really excited about the songs I just finished recording in Seattle, produced and cowritten by Thomas Dutton of Forgive Durden. I really wanted to work with him because I’ve been interested in bringing more of an orchestral sound to my music (sort of Panic! at the Disco circa A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out meets Muse around the Absolution album). Thomas really nailed the sound I was going for and I think the songs on the EP produced by him really encompass that.

How did you wind up meeting and being managed by Jordan Blake of Watchout Theres Ghost?
It’s funny, because Jordan is famous in the Sacramento music scene (well in almost every music scene) but even more so in his home town. Like I said, I went through Middle school and High school listening to his work with A Skylit Drive, and remember how excited I was for “Watchout! There’s Ghosts”. I played a few shows with him while I was in The Greenlight District, but we really started talking after he heard my work as Sunshine Estates. I played as his keyboardist and backup singer for a few shows and we got along really well together and had a really fun time. We both decided that I should be focusing on SE, and his belief in me has been instrumental in the work I’ve done. He has really helped me to get to the place where I an.

How did Chris from Electric Valentine become involved with the project?
I actually did my very first demo’s with Chris, and he practically got Sunshine Estates started for me. Chris has been a great friend and mentor to me as the project expanded. After the first demo, I really decided I needed to push myself artistically, working on my voice and writing. Hence the difference between the CheckCheckCheck (which I did with Chris) and songs like Molto Bello and Rhythm & Movement. Chris really helped me get to the next level.

What is a live Sunshine Estates show like for those of is who have yet to see you play?
Early on I decided I was going to hold off on playing a live show until I had a fan base and could produce an excellent performance. I was tired of people coming to a show to support “me” instead of my music. My debut show is September 3rd, releasing my EP and raising money for a local foundation helping kids in hospitals with cancer (The Team Will Foundation). I will have a full band behind me when I perform live.

Introduce the band who perform with you live and what other projects have they done?
My drummer, who’s been with me since the recording of Molto Bello is Jesus Acevedo, who played in the band Hello Astronaught. Playing guitar and backup vocals is going to be Sam Jacob, a real inspiration of mine from the band Italia Conte, and my friend Michael Mercado. I’m still in the process of finding a bassist to play with us.

If you could be a donut, what kind would you be and why?
Chocolate custard doughnut, white and creamy on the outside – chocolate on the inside.

Any strange or unusual Myspace stories you could share?
This one time, some friends in my old band stole some music off my hard drive and used it to make a diss track about me and put it on myspace under the name Moonlight Apartments. It was straight up brutal and I was not amused. Incidentally, when I saw Jeffree Star’s myspace I thought he was a chick for like a year.

What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing your music for the very first time?
A humanities teacher once told me something that has really stuck with me, “A real artist takes his audience to a place beyond this world, making them see things in a way they haven’t before”. I know it’s a completely cliche answer, but theres a lot of universality to the message. If my song cheers up someone who’s having a bad day then I will be successful (in my own way) as an artist.

Any official release date for the EP and what is the title going to be?
My first E.P “Bright Revelations” will be released September 3rd. It will feature the songs I did with Colby as well as the new songs I just finished recording with Thomas as well as post production by Casey Bates who’s done Pierce the Veil, A Skylit Drive, Isles and Glaciers, Portugal the Man, and tons more.

Any messages for peeps reading this who might now want to check your music out?
Thanks for givin it a shot!

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

Sunshine Estates on Myspace


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