Get To Know Sunset Rollercoaster [Interview]

Ian Hansen

Sunset Rollercoaster formed in 2009 as friends just making music for fun which now has turned into them amassing millions of streams, most notably from their song, “My Jinji.” Their music takes us through a soulful and psychedelic experience you can’t get enough of. The Taiwanese band just dropped their compilation tape, “Infinity Sunset,” featuring artists such as Phum Viphurit and Michael Sayer, and they are also going on a world tour this fall making for an eventful next few months. They haven’t been on the road since COVID-19, and they are finally getting to connect with their fans again and highlight other talented artists through “Infinity Sunset.” Get to know Sunset Rollercoaster below:

How meaningful is the “Infinity Sunset” compilation, and how did it come together?

All of the artists participating in this compilation are our friends. When we were touring around the world, some of them were my guitar students. I signed them, and they joined my label. I think it is a great opportunity to put everybody on the compilation. Especially with Covid, it was difficult to really feature any artists. We just had everyone put out their own music. We had talks about ideas and topics. We talked about the idea of each single, but it was the best way to work during COVID.

How meaningful has it been to work with all of these artists during COVID and bring everyone together for this compilation?

Because of COVID, we haven’t toured in like three years. I wanted to really make a connection with all of these musicians and all of our fans. We want to put out music that is meaningful for us and the fans.

What was the specific vision and direction with the compilation?

Asian-Indie pop with the Pacific vibe. They merge city pop from the 80s with easy listening soul music and psychedelic vibes as well. It’s nothing heavy. It’s easy to listen to. The lyrics and melodies are melancholic and you can feel the breezy vibe.

What was the collaboration like with Michael Sayer Seyer on “Jellyfish?”

We’ve been knowing Michael since 2019, and we went to Los Angeles for a music festival. We hung out and made music. His family is from the Phiillippines which is really close to Taiwan. We do have this memory and going fishing with our families. We wanted to make a song about fishing. The melody is written by our drummer, and the melody is for his son. He just became a father two years ago. He spent a long time making children songs.

You have a tour coming up, so how excited are you to really connect with your fans again?

It’s beyond words. It’s mixed feelings. Of course I feel really excited, but I also feel anxious as well. I don’t know what is going to happen because I haven’t been on the stage or in the real world in three years. Things have changed. Once the tour starts, I will really adjust myself into the feeling of it.

What is the biggest message you want your fans to get from your music?

I think now because we have Instagram and Tik Tok, people find it difficult to focus on one thing at a time because everything is so short. Our music is usually around three to seven minutes. I really want my music to have people sit down and really enjoy the music for a song and eventually sit down for an entire album?

What city are you most excited to see?

I’d say New York. I really love New York. A lot of my friends are over there, and I haven’t seen them in a long time. It’s going to be a good opportunity to hang out with them.

Starting from the beginning, how did you guys form the band in the first place? What is it like seeing it take off like it has now?

In the beginning, we were a bunch of kids hanging out at the park. There were a lot of underground venues and clubs over there. We were just a bunch of young kids hanging out. At the beginning, it wasn’t serious. We all just wanted to hang out and play some music. After we released Jinji Kikko in 2016, everything restarted. After that, the attitude was more professional. We settled down and realized this was going to be our career. We just wanted to focus on making music.

How meaningful is the track “My Jinji,” and how did it change your lives?

Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote a song called Dindi. When I first listened to that song, I heard him say Jinji. It means baby so it’s like, “My Baby.” I remember just spending a lot of time writing that song with my band mates in the basement just jamming. During the time, we loved psychedelic experiences. We spent a lot of time tripping a jamming. We were like 25 or 26, and I felt like I was able to play more difficult guitar solos and more ability to use jazz chords to compose songs.

Where did the name “Sunset Rollercoaster” come from?

There is an app called Photo Booth. There is a preset called rollercoaster. My band mates and I took our picture on that preset, and in that preset there was a huge sunset. We just called it Sunset Rollercoaster.

Take me through the process on how you grew your sound to what it is now?

English is not my native language. Every time I would try to write a song, I would try to imagine a film picture. Then I would try to start writing out lyrics. I would always have a vision in my mind. The reference is from 80s and 90s Hong Kong movies. That is why my music is attached to that feeling. Whether it is retro, nostalgic, or melancholic. Also, it has that pacific south vibe.

Who inspires your music?

I’d say Ned Doheny. He’s from one of the OGs of soft rock and adult rock. The other one is Antonio Carlos Jobim who created Bossa Nova.

How do you want Sunset Rollercoaster to remembered? What do you want your legacy to be?

We don’t really have this ambition to be the best. We just want to cherish the time, and we are really glad people love our music. We are really lucky. When they think about a certain time when they are young, they think about us. That’s what we want.

What is your advice to young creatives trying to make it like you guys?

The world is really big, and of course there will be challenges. Don’t be scared is the most important attitude.

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