Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

Sun Sounds

Desert dream-pop duo Sun Sounds offers a refreshing indie flare to Albuquerque’s music scene. The duo often lines up among a mix of well-known rock, metal, and country acts, but offers a show that’s entirely their own. Dreamy and oozing with youthful and energetic beats, a Sun Sounds show is entirely their own. 

The duo comprises Tessa Nickerson (vocals) and Will Ribbans (Guitar/Synth/Prod), whose chemistry on stage parallels the harmony they achieve in their sound. Ribbans’s jazzy, hip hop, and pop beats perfectly complement Nickerson’s strong, smooth vocals. It would be easy to compare the duo to the laid-beats of West Coast psychedelic rock, but the duo’s success also comes from their genre-defying sound.

“We both love the Shins. Broken Bells is a cool example of a producer, but who also has a lot of guitar, so I started to make a lot more guitar based beats, such as “Dizzy” or “Tangerine Summer,” those have a lot of indie guitar, but with a hip hop beat,” Ribbans said in an interview. In their creative process, Nickerson embraces a free-flowing improvisational style depending on the sound that Ribbans produces. “The lyrics always come out of me in the moment,” Nickerson said

There’s a confidence in the duo’s sound. Nickerson’s voice is strong and timeless, while Ribbans experience with DJing and exposure to a multitude of genres is evident in every track. The lyrics and themes touch upon youthful angst and universal wanderlust. This is best encapsulated in their “Movin’ Sweet Groovin” track. Nostalgic and genre-defying, the track is characteristic of the duo. 

“Tangerine Summer” is another quintessential Sun Sounds track that offers nods to mainstream Indie, while heavily influenced by classic rock and hip hop that served as early influences for the duo. 

“I really do believe that we’re different. What we’re doing is modern but also trying to capture how we feel living in this place. We feel so blessed and lucky to have grown up here in an outdoor city. A place where we can get out a lot and like Tess said earlier, capturing a lot of the sounds that we feel represent our community in New Mexico and Albuquerque,” Ribbans said. Nickerson added: “Our music is for them. We’re not trying to make it for any corporate or any big money.”  

Sun Sounds’ distinct voice in the Albuquerque music scene is a testament to that approach. 

The duo is currently focused on consolidating their products after a hyper-productive and creative last few years. But, that doesn’t mean that they’re stepping back from any shows in the Albuquerque area. With the uncertainty of COVID finally starting to stabilize, the duo will soon be regulars on the Albuquerque music circuit. 

Sun Sounds will perform at Launchpad on March 4, the same day as the Downtown Art Walk. Tickets can be purchased at the door. Doors open at 8:30 pm. 

For more on Sun Sounds, follow them on their Instagram: @sun.sounds.music