Talking with MKO SUN

We get a little bit closer to MKO SUN (who may be artistry personified).


Anybody who listened to Michiko when we reviewed it recently will know that MKO SUN is not your typical musician. In fact, it feels strange to refer to her as anything other than an artist. Every nuance of sound on the track felt painstakingly crafted to neglect the idea of music as a commodity or luxury, focusing on the art of creation.

The artistic flourish of MKO SUN remains apparent as you speak to her. There is no demystifying revelation of a pop star toeing lines; she’s the real artistic deal. As she discusses her upcoming EP, Opus Opalus, she makes it clear that each track is its own individual work of art – there is no vacuous pop song unit shifter, or track without significance and semantics.

MKO SUN in shortI wrote [the EP] in the aftermath of losing my father, with each song being somehow related to that experience. The EP is for him. So the biggest challenge in the EP was not letting the subject matter get the better of me – but it was incredibly healing and rewarding.

With inspiration rooted in parental loss, it’s difficult to imagine the EP as being anything other than thoroughly thought out and meaningful. But it also bears with it the burden of sounding, conceptually, like it would be an experience steeped heavily in negativity. However, MKO’s description speaks to the contrary. The tracks seem to find the middle of the road between a celebration of life and enlightenment of existence, highlighting the birth of beauty from negative spaces.

Light Has No Mass [the fifth track on the EP] really sums up what the EP is all about. I imagine that when my father died, he shattered into stardust and is now sprinkled all across the galaxy. It’s tragically magic, which is the notion I’ve tried to capture on the EP.

The birth story of Michiko¬†is equally as cosmic and spiritual, albeit entirely coincidental. “I wrote the piano part at¬†Michiko Rehearsal Studios in New York. I needed to name my rough recordings so I chose ‘Michiko’. While brainstorming lyric ideas later that night, I googled the meaning – it’s a Japanese name meaning “born on a lucky planet”.

I loved the phrase and immediately could hear the melody in my head. In the song, it refers to an elevated state of being; that place you find when you triumph over your mind and feel the lightness of the world, as opposed to its gravity.

Triumphant is definitely a key word to use for MKO SUN. As an act which began from making beats-driven music on Garageband, dropping an EP as finely tuned and wholesome as Opus Opalus is the definition of triumph. But there’s more to music than the studio side, and MKO considers the live aspect not only as important as the recordings but as an entirely seperate artform.

I don’t try to replicate my recordings in a live setting, the live show is its own entity. The studio and the stage are such different places, as are the mindsets of the audience for each. The adrenaline rush from performing live is unbeatable, but I also enjoy the luxury to deliberate over decisions that the studio offers.

Luckily for MKO, she’s on the verge of a very artistic period for her. With the release of her EP signalling the beginning of a tour with her band, both in her home country of Australia and overseas.

I have plans to get back to New York City next year. Besides that I’ve started collecting ideas for my next release,” MKO says, but she’s got more creativity in her to settle for just that. “Plus a few collaboration ideas with artists of various irks. A foggy outline for a feature film too…

MKO SUN must be a true artist, because the determined creativity never ends.

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