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Kiana & the Sun Kings are a jazz band formed here in Louisville who have just released their debut single “Metamorphosis”. In this time of great change and uncertainty, this song of embracing transformation is a very timely message. I caught up with Kiana Del, the founder and lead singer of the band, to learn more about the history of the band, their new single, and what to expect from them in 2021.

You and the Sun Kings sound very comfortable with each other. How did you meet, and how long have you been playing music together?
About half of us met during our time at Bellarmine University, and the other half I met and recruited at jazz jams around Louisville. The core group has been playing together as the Sun Kings for about 3 years, but we recently added our powerhouse drummer almost a year ago now. We’ve cycled through a few member changes but this group feels super tight.

A jazz band must be a very collaborative experience. How do you approach songwriting as a group?
Collaboration is the mantra around here. I’ve said before that – to me – our songwriting process is a bit like a community garden. The seed comes from one mind, but the rest of the members tend to it lovingly until it comes to fruition. So, I might bring in a melody and lyrics, then my pianist will add chords and my guitarist will chime in on the bridge section, and so on. For the most part, each tune we write has a piece of each of us. You’d think 7 members including guitar AND piano would get in each other’s way (haha), but we’ve done a lot of work to ensure everyone plays an equally important role.

Tell me about the song Metamorphosis.
Metamorphosis is the first original song we ever wrote as a group, so hearing it out in the world has been a long time coming and we’re very proud. It was written by our guitarist Harris Boyer with lyrics by me. I personally think it equally incorporates elements of Harris’ love for rock and jazz. The lyrics came to me in kind of a flow state during one of our group writing sessions, and much like the title its meaning has evolved over time. When I first wrote it, it was about romanticizing the past. Now, it’s a bit deeper, more sinister. I think it represents this idea that something that was once a negative force in your life can morph into something positive, when really it’s the same ol’ damage in a shiny new package. What that “thing” is will be different for every listener.

What can listeners expect from Kiana & the Sun Kings in 2021?
We just wrapped up recording a two part EP! We hope to release EP 1, entitled “Chrysalis,” in early 2021.

Band members are as follows:
Kiana Del – vocals
Matt McKay – flute
Trevin Little – saxophone
DèQuan “Ray Keys” Tunstull – piano
Harris Boyer – guitar
Phillip Bullock – bass
Fiona Palensky – drums (Zack Kennedy on the “Metamorphosis” recording)

Their debut single “Metamorphosis” was self-recorded and mixed/mastered by Casey Powell with album art by Jordan Blase and photography by Sally Wegert, all Louisville-based artists. Check out the new single here!