La Crosse Local

E.293: J.E. Sunde

Listen to “E.293: J.E. Sunde” on Spreaker.

I do like records as a form, I understand the nature of how we are listening these days has changed…I want to find some sort of a marriage of the two (on albums & singles).

We connect with J.E. Sunde on music, his new album ““9 Songs About Love””, process for recording and writing, visual inspiration for music videos for the album, the covid experience as a musician and upcoming show at the Mid West Music Fest.

Special thanks to our Podcast Sponsors!

Amy Gabay 00:00
The Great River Shakespeare Festival is running now through July 31st. Featuring Twelfth Night and the African Company presents Richard the Third and more at Minnesota’s premier Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota. Buy tickets online at Great river, great drama. This podcast is also brought to you by Trempealeau County Tourism. Whether your idea of fun is bicycling, hiking or canoeing, afterwards head into the heart of one of their welcoming communities to experience historic architecture, independent shops and locally owned dining establishments. Visit Trempealeau County Tourism online. We connect with J.E. Sunde on music, his new album ““9 Songs About Love””, process for recording and writing, visual inspiration for music videos for the album, the covid experience as a musician and upcoming show at the Mid West Music Fest. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music and events on our website I’m Amy.

Brent Hanifl 01:34
I’m Brent.

Amy Gabay 01:34
And this is La Crosse Local.

John Sunde 01:37
My name is John Sunde. I was born in Amery, Wisconsin, little town in western Wisconsin. And probably my first experience in music, my folks are very musical, they would act as a songwriter, they played a lot of music, played music at church. So it’s probably like kind of camp songy church music the family did being exposed through that and learning to sing in that way.

Brent Hanifl 02:02
Yeah, just checking out the past couple of days, you got a new album out, Nine Songs About Love, what is your process for recording and writing is that kind of like a quick for you, is that something you take a lot of time with?

John Sunde 02:15
I kind of both I mean, I’m trying to write constantly, as much as I can. And I’m trying to figure out a way, you know, the, the process of making records can be kind of a drawn out thing, which is good. I mean, you know, they say that, like, you can do three things good, fast or cheap. And you can only pick two kind of thing. There’s three things good, fast or cheap, and you can only pick two. So if you don’t have unlimited resources, kind of, you know, the resource you can spend is more time. And so definitely for the records I’ve made, spent a lot of time and preparation then for finally doing it. But I love those artists who kind of are putting out a lot of stuff, you know, and have a little maybe less preciousness about things, too. I admire some folks who go about it in that way. I’m trying to write all the time, and I’m trying to figure out how to record more regularly in a way that I like and can kinda share.

Brent Hanifl 03:06
I’ve definitely seen it just like with storytelling with albums, you know, it’s like people release now singles before any sort of series of an album is that in some ways you’re moving towards? Or is it do you like to have that cohesive sort of piece?

John Sunde 03:18
I do like records as a form? You know, I understand that the nature of kind of how we’re listening these days has changed a lot. And so, you know, in response, a lot of people, yeah, it’s kind of a more people, if they’re making records tend to be releasing a lot of singles, which makes a lot of sense. And there’s a lot of people who are just making singles and putting out singles. Yeah, just with the shift to like streaming and that kind of consumption of music. And that’s cool, too. Like, I’m open to both, I think I want to find some kind of marriage of the two because I still do like the record and EP format, like a collection of things, I think is a nice way to experience music.

Brent Hanifl 03:56
So you also have a few videos out for the album, including Risk and Love Gone To Seed. Were you part of that sort of visual component of creating that or how did that come about?

John Sunde 04:06
Yeah. The Risk tune, the kind of animation thing, well, both of those involved a good friend of mine named Adam Wheeler who’s a great filmmaker. Now based in Minneapolis, he was out in LA for a long time. We’ve been good buddies for a long time. And so he’s been kind of a regular collaborator with the music videos, he did the all of the music video for Love Gone To Seed and did the bass footage for the Risk video, too, which then was animated over by a French filmmaker. I have a label relationship in France. And so they connected us with that artists to kind of do that kind of animated visual for the Risk thing. So yeah, I was involved, to the degree that I engaged buddies who I trust and kind of discussed what it would be, but I’m happy in that format to like lean on somebody who has more of an artistic vision in that medium than myself.

Brent Hanifl 05:00
I can definitely see how you could do that with video with COVID over the past couple years, did you record that way as well? Or were you always getting into a room with a bunch of people? Or is it something you’ve always kind of passed around when you’re creating a song?

John Sunde 05:12
With the last record, we recorded it before COVID. So we were able to, you know, it was we were in blissful naivete, blissfully ignorant. And so what was to come so that was there. I did some sessions, in terms of like, working on a few things over the COVID period. And so there was with people in the same room, and so definitely figuring out the negotiation of how to do that, and prepare for that, and, you know, testing and everything else. And so, and that continues, you know, it’s an interesting, like, and understandable and in some ways you feel kind of used to it, but still just an exhausting layer of everything where, you know, you need to be cautious, and you’re everybody’s going into things kind of knowing that at any moment, up until the last moment, like your plan can get totally upset, which is just what it is. But it’s also just so frustrating.

Brent Hanifl 06:04
You know, I’m sure it was not fun for 99.9% of the population, I mean, global population, how was it for you? I mean, did you get anything good out of it, or give you any time to be creative or?

John Sunde 06:16
Yeah, you know, for me, especially in the first chunk of it, you hear people talking about some of the benefits of like, suddenly, forcibly not having anything to do and just having time. There were definite benefits in terms of like, it allowed me to, I feel like a week before the world shut down, I had been talking to a friend where I was like, you know, what, I think I need to just like, I don’t know, rent out an airbnb somewhere or something and like, dedicate some time to writing. Because I just felt too busy, where I couldn’t kind of fully focus and then all of a sudden, the world shut down. And I had as much time as I wanted to focus, you know, the next couple of years, or at least that first, like year, in that way, it was a pretty productive time. I mean, I’m somewhat of an introvert and the craft of songwriting is somewhat of an introverted craft for me. And so it was productive for a bit. And then, you know, it also for me, happens in kind of, you know, peaks and valleys. So, I had a lot of creative energy for a while I was productive, and then it kind of hit a zone where it like, tapered off, and then I was down in the valley. This feeling like wait a minute, what’s going on and not feeling the energy to create and stuff like that, too. So it was, it was all of it, you know, it was there were moments of like, pleasant, quiet and then about, like how a bunch of isolated, terrible quiet too.

Brent Hanifl 07:36
Peaks and valleys. So I mean, it looks like you know, just based on your tour schedule, and shows that it’s picked up quite a bit since then. But your shows coming up in La Crosse here, you know, the Great River Folk Festival, which happens in August, and then one of my, I love Great River Folk Festival as well, but the Mid West Music Fest which happens in September, which is one of my favorite events to go to. What can people expect from your live shows? Are they going to be different? I feel like Great River Folk Festival has its thing, and then Mid West Music.

John Sunde 08:03
Yeah, just in the most obvious different for those two shows will be Great River, I’ll be playing solo. And you know, Folk Festival, like it’ll be that much more. I mean, I love the song, you know, I love the medium of the song. And it’s kind of the center of the center for me. So it’s fun, I find the playing songs solo is kind of gets to the essence of the thing a bit more directly, you know, in a way, that’s kind of nice. And then for Mid West Music Festival, I’ll be coming in with a trio the band, so they’ll kind of be the two expressions there in both those events. So yeah.

Brent Hanifl 08:35
You know, and still with you touring, do you like going to those sorts of events that has, you know, 50 other bands playing or is it something that you get tired of?

John Sunde 08:42
Yeah, can be a mixed bag, sometimes it’s great. Sometimes it’s exhausting. It’s like everything. You know, it’s been cool to watch Midwest Music has especially kind of developed over the years and kind of, it’s a job to figure out how to present a festival, you know, and it’s not easy. And so sometimes there’s those growing pains of like, for an artist going into an event where people are still figuring stuff out, and it can be a little clunky, and, and whatever but, but then it’s also going to be a total joy when it’s done well, and the community has been built around, you know, the festival and people are invested in that way. And so, so yeah, I guess it’s kind of an everything answer, but like, sometimes it’s great. And sometimes it can be a little hard.

Brent Hanifl 09:25
You know, it’s something interesting for me, I don’t know if it’s getting older or something like that, but you know, not necessarily being invested in mainstream music, but you know, attending these festivals, like Midwest Music, like Mile of Music and Appleton, you know, has been a really interesting for me to see, you know, six, seven bands in an afternoon and really kind of develop a, I guess, a relationship with the music and certainly be fans with it. So it’s just something that I find to be just exciting, so I’m pumped for it. I’m glad it’s back in its full capacity.

John Sunde 09:53
Yeah, it is a really kind of it is a really like beautiful format because it’s like it’s giving people as much as they as they want to invest in their energy, you know, and so it’s like, it’s fun that way people can like focus on one stage or whatever, and others can kind of like select their community. But and also, a lot of it, you know, getting introduced to new music and new acts and stuff. And like you say, starting your relationship with them. It’s a cool platform to like, bring people together and kind of expose people to all manner of things, so.

Brent Hanifl 10:23
So what’s next for you? What’s coming down the road that you’re excited about?

John Sunde 10:27
I’m doing a bunch of writing and some fun collaborations, kind of some collaborative projects that will be separate from my solo thing, which I’m excited about. But then we’re also in the midst of finishing up a new record for the J.E. Sunde project that’ll hopefully come out here in the early New Year. This coming in 23. So, yeah, I’m excited to be yeah, working on all those things.

Brent Hanifl 10:52
So what’s the best avenue for people to find out more?

John Sunde 10:56
Yeah, you can find info and kind of links at Also, you know, the music is on all the streamings, on the YouTube, on all those places that you can search it out. So yeah, I guess invite people to maybe start there and dig in as much as they want to.

Amy Gabay 11:17
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse local. Find out more about us at and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.

About La Crosse Local

La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.

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