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  • Writer's pictureMajoris Music

Looking Into Long Exposure: An Exploration Into Sunday Lendis

Updated: May 7, 2023



In days where there can be this sense of a somewhat meaningless approach to music, popularised through thumb scrolls, ‘fast-fashion’ like media and throwaway content, it’s rare - special, even - when you find an artist with music that deeply warms and flows through you in a combination you might’ve not known you wanted before. The moment of elevation through the unrelenting cycles of modernity.


This can happen listening to Sunday Lendis. Something like ‘incredible’ doesn’t feel like it should cut it and something like finding just a single word feels equally as unattainable.


In about six months, Sunday has released three gemstone songs during the campaign, culminating in the treasure trove EP Long Exposure, already sounding infinitely of depth and meaning, given to the world on 6th April.


Sunday herself is of a talent that is harnessed and experienced. In her voice, clearly well-practised and trained yet still sprinkled with expression and emotional rawness, this is perhaps most present. It’s the warm hug with a blanket wrapped around your shoulders. It’s the refresher and restorer; the sound of freshly washed cotton if it had one. By invitation or otherwise, you can truly lose yourself in her sonic world and her lyrical mind, in a kind of soul-trapping way.


Sunday communicates this through electronic and acoustic elements via a folk and jazz medium. Keeping her lush and warm vocal at the forefront of her music, Sunday intertwines delicate guitar melodies, rich harmonies and opalescent piano into her sound. Then, merging all this with extraordinarily meaningful messages and lyrics full in imagery and depth, Long Exposure finds itself creating to provide this place of reflection in its playing; sometimes solemn but always somehow comforting.


We sat with Sunday and had the joy to chat music, generally, and get into the process of her EP specifically from start to finish. It was in these conversations that Sunday’s deep care for words became apparent. Each answer was a product of a craft, given rise by the inner wordsmith she so clearly has in her. This point again reflects in her songwriting - words feeling ‘placed’ and secured by their depth, saturated with something that seems to require explanation.


Listening to the EP after chatting with Sunday had a striking effect - there was so much more understanding we had about the piece in front of us, knowing that to be able to do this for her music requires being able to do this with her, her stories and journeys. That relationship, always so beautiful when it comes out in music, really comes alive in this EP.


The foundation of that starts in what retrospectively feels like a formative time for much now - Lockdown. Sunday experienced a ‘musical crisis’ - battling away the full-on questions of what the point was anymore, and what it had ever been. This began a process of confidence building for Sunday, with disparate writing and collaboration proving steps in the right direction for that one moment to come along.


And come along it did, with the introduction of Ed Allen. Ed came to be the co-writer for Long Exposure, and takes it to the stage in its live form, with Sunday too. The two ends of roots to a musical partnership that just seemed to… work.


Ed’s original involvement in the writing process quickly turned into something clearly special, both through the level of collaboration that ensued, and the labour of love type mentality attached to their products. The writing process was a free flow, producing in tandem with the momentum and direction of the song rather than the other, perhaps more classical, way around. It was a writing environment that favoured the feeling inspired within you, in-situ, listening to music - perhaps some of the answer as to why Long Exposure is something of a greater, more raw reality.


On the music, the EP begins with ‘With Ease’, representing the time within the void for Sunday. ‘With Ease’ was the first track that Sunday and Ed finished together, and introduces the journey of the EP with a journey in itself. The song began with a simple vocal run and turned into a beautiful, vulnerable cohesive piece of music. The lyrics paint a picture, in clarity, of times characterised by pain and strife, inside a musical journey of song to spoken word, both sounding as beautiful as the other in isolation; together sounding simply powerful. Sunday says this song ‘sounds’ like a first and in that way ‘With Ease’ stands unique to its peers whilst all the while cohesive with the wider body, giving the EP an immediate sense of difference defined by a vulnerability that strips away any pretence in the pursuit of it.



It feels like such a pointed opening: bold and considered vocal harmonic layers, a steady pace that lets it all set in, and then an entry into a world of sliced production and drums that take all of this into new heights already. It’s an intention setter; there is clearly something serious that’s going to happen during Long Exposure not just because these are sounds that feel so wonderfully off piste done so well, but because ‘With Ease’ is so intrepid and confident in itself - the musical meanders through emotional verse and vocal chops and then spoken work stating in no uncertain terms this music will take you to some proper places; ‘to the place I knew myself’ as is penned in the song.


Right at the start of the EP through this song we hear the potential of Sunday’s voice as it is in so many cases throughout the 4 minutes the thing that delivers the potency of the lyric and the surrounding music. It lays foundation unto itself, is so soft but can prove so penetrating to the mind and vocal scales too, and can so slickly move between these things and more to make such a comprehensive listening experience feel like it ticks every box that this song was given. When this happens mid-word, during the spoken word section of the song, it’s particularly transfixing.


Having given the thoughts, feelings and musicality of Sunday and the EP a huge and successful entry into the world, Long Exposure continues with ‘Deepest Blue’, the track of the EP that formally introduces Sunday into the world of love songs; the first she’d ever written as we’d found out.


The love song was a musical construct unfamiliar to Sunday because it’s core notion - the grandiloquent ‘without you I am nothing and you are my everything’ perspective as Sunday reflected, was something she just didn’t really believe in. Rather, for her, ‘Deepest Blue’ sought to reflect something that she did: ‘the beauty and the symbiosis of the relationship without invoking a sense of dependence, desperation and need – this for me feels ugly and the opposite of my experience of love’.



There’s a subtle lyric of the song that points to exactly this in ‘you are the leaves that let me breathe’ - a choice of words not just pretty in it’s rhyme but also something that more profoundly makes this distinction between the thing felt, and the facilitator of the thing felt one step removed from that. Breathing and leaves in this case, love and the lover in the other, detailing in poetic fashion the nuance with which Sunday approaches the reflections of the topic in song.


Perhaps in a less subtle way, ‘Deepest Blue’s’ lyrics were penned also as a statement of separation, of sorts, from Sunday to the wider love song genre. She reflected in our conversation how the songwriting represented an element of disassociation from the classics and that way of song construction, and this was something she valued about her own work.


The song builds in much the same way love might - the ever-increasingly warm beat of romance comes out of the song in each part feeling so novel, in a capturing sort of way. It takes directions songs often don’t - now becoming a kind of modus operandi - but things somehow still seem so precisely, powerfully well placed. It builds you as it does itself and there’s a total boldness to it, and as it progressively morphs into a jazz and string infused nova it suddenly comes awash how universal this song feels at capturing something special.


‘Deepest Blue’ bestows that something special in something that creates its own box. Delicately, but yet undaunted, in saying the very deepest we can. Patiently, but so poignantly, drawing the faultless outline for those things to rest.


@mariaalzamorafotografia

Long Exposure’s journey continues with ‘Bricks and Mortar’, a track that Sunday tells us finds its foundations in her experience with previous, sustained periods of anxiety. She asks through her pen in the song ‘what it’s like to be the only one inside your world without a voice to speak’, bringing alive the isolation she felt because those anxieties - during a period of vocal injury too where Sunday wasn’t able to create her art - in a way that feels so true to the feeling through word - again something that we will see embody Long Exposure as a whole.


As ever with the music of Sunday Lendis, though ‘Bricks and Mortar’ might be about the myriad hardships that seem to surround you in those dark periods, it still somehow feels of greater depth and meaning. Consecutive questioning in the song like ‘how did it get so dark? Which turn did I take?’ turn describing those challenges into something wider, exploring the implications cast on the mind, and onto the perceptions we have of the world also. She creates an experience for the listener that is, by its semantic nature, inclusive to their own understandings, and ultimately their own struggles.



‘Bricks and Mortar’ is a song of pure emotion, in the sense that it takes the headline feelings and deconstructs them in a process of chemical purification, extracting from those feelings the most fundamental and poignant elements of the mind. Musically, the 3/4 time signature, and irregular, pulsing vocal inputs in production creates this portrayal of the elongation of time; perhaps the same elongations of the moments that Sunday felt over the six months she went through the struggles she did. The song builds and then enters its final phase with a more intense collection of drums and more complex layers of vocals, perhaps again connoting that feeling of frustration; of her patience wearing thin.


Even without the context ‘Bricks and Mortar’ gives us a beautiful examination of the interface between struggle and the sense of self, and gives us too yet another song in Long Exposure that is brimming with thoughtful production and an even more thoughtful pen delivered via a voice that oozes meaning and emotion - the trifecta that could pretty accurately sum up the entirety of the EP.


By its next song, what really becomes clear from the body of music as a whole is the centrality of emotion, the importance of feeling, and the process with which we understand them in the context of the world around us. It’s a sense of vulnerability represented by the unyielding need of the songwriting to go further than the surface level, and the trust that it gives the listener in being able to access these areas. In many ways Long Exposure is a session with Sunday and her mind, and she reflects this again in the EP’s next track, ‘Breathe Again’.


We see this vulnerability clearly when Sunday describes the 'rain so fertile it must care so ferociously’, starting to introduce this idea of growth from a place of pain into the song, eventually being able to emerge somewhere better. “After making sense of these really hard things, I felt better and I could sing again. I felt like a little tulip bulb coming out of the earth after years of darkness and trudging through winter.” Sunday says, speaking with the same poetic flourish and imagery that makes the songwriting of the EP so instantly capturing.



Musically too, ‘Breathe Again’ does capture that essence of something fresh; the inhale and exhale necessary we feel in separating us from that which belongs - sometimes painfully - in our minds. It’s again a pluck of the guitar, complemented by layers of itself, that bring about an anticipation of change, and with a lyrical motif of the link between the climate around us and feelings within us, this and the drums that change in pace and prominence create something that sounds like the changing of the seasons. As the song progresses you can hear - and in so doing feel - the emergence of this auditory brightness and change of environment, but also in that feel the emergence of Sunday herself, with a release of newness and energy as she comes out of the proverbial other side.


Putting this complexity together in song was reflected in the process of pulling together things in the studio too. Sunday reflects that the song was the coalescing of ‘acoustic and electric, Ed and Sunday, constructive and free, all these things.’


‘Breathe Again’ marks its own space in Long Exposure in that where the EP is expert at providing the listener with an unfeigned and intimate insight into the mind and experience of Sunday, this track specifically goes further to drive into you the feeling of the idea, not exclusively the intricacies of the structure of the idea. Throughout the entire body of work you are moved to great lengths by the gentle faculty of a human understanding, but with ‘Breathe Again’ the music allows you to actually experience the texture of renewal that the song gets at, and actually acquire the perception of the breath that makes up the central notion of the song. Long Exposure doesn’t need an extra element of access into the senses for it so wonderfully translates them already, but ‘Breathe Again’ adds to a piece of work that does this so well already something extra, infiltrating so beautifully yet another, visceral, part of the mind, which in the context of the EP is already surrounded by the cornerstones of a deeply thoughtful set of introspections.


The places gone throughout the EP come to a close in the final track of Long Exposure - ‘Alice’. Juxtaposed with a collection of songs that reach far into the hard to reach places of the mind, ‘Alice’ represents the soft landing to finish the EP, being structured very simply in both lyric and musicality.


Sunday tells us that the story revolves around the pain you might feel when someone close to you is hurting. She likens it to ‘that moment when [a] child comes in crying and they’re in so much pain but there’s nothing you can do except tell them it’s going to be ok’ - telling the story through exactly that situational lens.


Musically, right up until the last lyrics of the song - and consequently of the EP - ’Alice’ carries itself with just a guitar and Sunday’s vocals with the slightest, distant hint of strings to set the foundation for what is to come later, continuing the softness of both the story and the structural choice of the song.



‘Alice’ and, again Long Exposure, finish with an extended outro that brings in the full band with light and sweeping percussion creating such a wonderful space of its own in the song and the entire body of music, complimented by the strings foreshadowed earlier, this time allowed to come into their own. As the two start to fade out keys start to run away and create a few fleeting seconds of a beautiful trail of sound that you can’t help but want to hold on to. Sunday describes this as giving the titular character of the song a hopeful hug, and we can see this upwards reflection in some of the lyrics too, with the presence of pain mitigated by reminders that ‘you’ve not run out of time, that little girl is loved inside’, and ‘you’ll get your home, and you’ll make it your own, filled with love and life’ being the messages that characterise the final verse of the song; creating what could be considered the central arc of the creation of Long Exposure in its entirety.


@mwvisual

‘I hope people can find something that relates to them in their life. I hope people can impart their own experience onto the record… it's so personal and my experiences but I hope people can find strength and comfort in this record., Sunday says, in summarising what role the EP plays for those who interact with that. And it’s exactly this which finds itself as the power of Long Exposure - the art of unfiltered elucidation and what that, in turn, does to those that listen.


Where photographs are limited to capturing a set - and short - moment in time, long exposure photography is characterised by it being the only way this method can capture something more - a moment extended. ‘Come and listen to the inner workings of my mind and come with me through what was maybe the most challenging part of my life’, Sunday says, in summarising what the reflection the EP is on at that moment for her.


The interesting thing about the art of long exposure though, relative to the meaning of the music, is that in the end it lets the light leave the trails, and it often makes the dark disappear.


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