Sun Kin calms weed freakouts with Boards of Canada

Sun Kin calms weed freakouts with Boards of Canada

Welcome to the first ever 'theme week' at I Enjoy Music: I Enjoy Music (Stoned). That's right, it's a whole week dedicated to the enjoyment of music, 'through the lens of THC', as it were.

From my first epic experiential confluence of poorly rolled joint + Radiohead's In Rainbows (2008 was a cool year, u had to be there), I have been a fan of the potent and classic combination of weed and music. So this week I'm publishing a new interview each day with a different musician about how weed influences their music listening habits. These interviews have been conducted in a variety of ways—phone, text, Twitter DM—so each will have a slightly different flavor. Different strains, if you will.

First up is Sun Kin, aka Kabir Kumar. I've been a fan of theirs for a long minute (last year I blogged about seeing Kabir play a great show as part of Left Tracks) and every new thing Kabir does, from releasing a single about how everyone deserves to work less, to anarchically remixing Pacing's song "Have you tried meditation?" tacks another fascinating facet onto their indie pop universe, which is generous, melodic, witty, sensitive, and altogether joyous.

He just put out a new single called "Just Double Checking," a very sweet bossa nova-tinged song written with his partner Nicole Levin, which is about making the best of vexing parallel anxieties...

In what might seem to some as evidence of total stoner slackerdom, I actually did this interview with Kabir like four months ago and it's only seeing the light of day for I Enjoy Music and Weed Week. Hence, some time discrepancies become clear throughout, with editor notes marked accordingly. But who is to say what "time" is? Only Enya, I reckon. Okay let's talk to Sun Kin...

[Kabir] okay hi i'm hereeee

[Molly] hello!

how are you doing today? it's friday!!


i used to be so into fridays...

they have little to no effect on me now as i have a full production day tomorrow hehe

but i'm excited for it! so yay friday!~

all days are equal to you now. you've transcended the workweek
which i feel is the Sun Kin musical feeling in general, right?

i'm a bit sad because my bestie group chat and i use to always share the gif from snl where daniel craig introduces the weeknd

then it became just 'happy daniel craig'

Daniel Craig finally learned about his 'weekend' meme | The Week

i can still vibe with them but i'm no longer a real participant unfortunately

how's your friday going?!

oh it's great. i had to drive an hour to culver city this am but i'm fresh enough to LA that i'm like 'an hour? great, i can listen to a whole album'

ahahaha i feel so similar

even 3 years in

i relish getting to drive somewhere

oh good, maybe it won't fade in time! getting stuck in traffic feels kind of glamorous to me

it's very much main character syndrome

anyway - how is Sun Kin stuff going lately? i know you're just coming off of a delightful Resignation Week...[ed note: a week of music releases from Sun Kin and Pacing with a softly anti-work mentality. hey, another themed week...did i subconsciously get this idea from them??]

oooh it's been great so far! people love the collaboration with Pacing

just got some merch made, have a show with Pacing and Why Dogs Why on November 10th

working on a new single i'm about to surprise drop

[that would be the excellent "Work Less"!]

oh i saw the merch, i do need to get a t-shirt from you because i'm a huge proponent of the smiley face

the sun kin t-shirt. i bought one several months later...

there's a lot to love about that design

personally i'm a big fan of the smartphone short circuiting in the hot coffee

whom among us wouldn't love to do that to our phones even temporarily

and it came out so good! shoutout kinky kontrol on the east side

anti-shoutout to dropshipping companies everywhere

bless. ok let's talk music + weed – starting with the weed side, working back toward the music side

what would you say are your average weed consumption habits. smoking, vaping, edibles? particular times of day or situations? are we getting a little stoned, a LOT stoned, a variety of stoned levels?

hmmm i generally partake in the weed 7 days a week. i would say i'm a gentle stoner. the less i have going, the more i'm gettin high

i mostly vape for the sake of my lungs/throat but sometimes all the oil can put me in a perma-haze so i'll switch back to prerolls for the more traditional feeling

LOVE to partake in marijuana when i'm making music. i used to really freak out on weed and then one day i was doing so and sat down at my computer to listen to something and was like 😮 


weirdly enough i still can get pretty stoned. but i'm not generally freaking out or getting anxious anymore, there's definitely a ceiling these days

so i guess a variety. depends on how i'm doing it and honestly whether other people are there

wait tell me more about the weed freakouts - are we talkin "everybody hates me", "we're all gonna die" "time to fixate on [problem in my life]", etc?

oh oh you know it was more like, i'd be super aware of my body in a way i didn't like. the anxiety was more like, yeah, time to fixate on X

ahhhh i see

it kind of helped me figure out things i was avoiding by smoking weed. i did have to take some major breaks to go fix those things and generally straighten out my mental health, go to therapy etc. all those things probably contributed to it being a nice vibe for me again

do you remember what you were listening to that particular time on the computer that zapped your anxiety?

boards of canada lol

for the first few years of smoking weed it was like

animal collective and boards of canada

oh hell yeah. i feel like being stoned, feeling slightly out of my element, and smoking out of some kind of contraption i didn't understand while listening to AnCo was my college experience

hahahaha omg

are we the same age

cuz same

maybe it's just a perennial college experience

i'm 33! college class o' 2012 [ed note: i'm 34 now]

it's fun cuz AnCo has so many different flavors of their sound

you can really take yourself wherever you want

that was a huge inspiration to me musically

okay yeah class of 2013

a great time to enjoy independent rock

let's goooo mid-late millennials

there are dozens of us!!

a reference i'm appreciating

as i watched those 3 seasons probably 50+ times


it's upsetting how often arrested development references are just part of the way i talk now

another mid-late millennial trait maybe


what other tunes do you reach for these days when partaking in weed?

ooh i really like this band called Born At Midnite

they have a few songs i like but my weed pick is probably 'Alternity'

putting it on!

great bass line too! i loveee active listening to bass lines when i'm high. there's something about unmixing and decoding a song that's thrilling to me

ha i was just about to ask if there's anything specific about music you fixate on when high. i love a good "bass listen"

bassists really never get their due i think. their job (in pop music) is to marry the vocal to the music, specifically to the rhythm

the way you hear a song before and after you learn the bass line is so stark

a good bassist creates this thrilling ambiguity that i can appreciate immediately and then figure out after

i have a LOT to say about bass

i was talking to a musician about drummers being in-demand for band formations, and he said "actually really good bassists are harder to find"

YES true

like, it's easier to find just any bassist than any drummer

but it's such a personal and human thing, the pocket, and not everyone's got it...

or rather. some people are further away in their journey to the pocket

i like the idea that the pocket is something that could be potentially attainable by all - but that it takes work to get there

that's my religion

grace, the ability to accept imperfection and lean into it, timing

another bass tangent is that my friend saw the taylor swift concert movie and pointed out that all of her bass lines are very simple, and usually just follow the root notes

and it kinda freaked me out because what if taylor swift decided to focus on bass?? it could be wild

ahaha yeah the world isn't ready

she's got some time to prepare us

ok so you said you also like MAKING music while stoned. i would love to hear about how weed may enhance your creative process

hmmm well, there's nothing like a sunday wake n bake recording sesh

i feel like it's hit or miss whether it actively enhances or is better or worse for creative inspiration

but i think i usually need to time it, like, get on a good tangent before i get stoned

cuz i work well on details/filling out a narrative when i'm high but i'm way worse at coming up with something compelling from scratch

results vary for sure but that's what i've kind of figured out for my process


that's for songwriting i guess, for guitar i'm often better high because i think less

does it kind of make the more maybe tedious parts of music-making more interesting?

yeah ! maybe i'll like, focus on a weird edit or mistake and include it rather than getting rid of it

which i find is generally better for my arrangements


measured maximalism

there's only so much space in a mix


common-sense maximalism

BUT you can vary up a song structure enough to keep changing the mix over time

i love artists that do that, i think that's a pole i like to head toward

Jai Paul, AnCo

i like this artist Rose Droll, their song Visceral Plight has a lot going on over its like 4 minute span but it's all so tastefully spread out over the song

[ed note: damn this song seems to have been taken offline but might be re-released with Rose Droll's new album in March?]

oh i must ask if you're a Jai Paul fan - what's your take on him finally playing live shows after all these years?

ooh honestly i've been so busy and wasn't able to hit the shows, which was a bummer, i heard they were amazing

i like that he had a full band (?)

i think it can be hit or miss when a recording artist hits the live circuit but if they approach it with the same creativity as they do the recording i think it can be awesome

live shows work when you as the artist are immersed in the world of each song

IMO haha

if you're phoning in any part of it people can tell

right - 'doing karaoke' to your songs i feel doesn't really cut it these days

people want a lil more out of the live experience. or just the ability to throw things onstage

this Rose Droll song is sick!

haha i don't mind if you're doing karaoke, anything can work if you're committed to it

if you're a big artist who has access to the resources then i think you should use them to make it bigger

but if you're doing karaoke and not into it emotionally... and not doing anything else, like that sucks

do what you can imo, if the songs are engaging then it'll be cool whatever you do

or if you're doing noise then make it REALLY noisy

idk, i don't listen to that much noise but that's how i feel about like, shoegaze

that makes sense

who wants a SEMI noisy shoegaze

crank that shit


ok i have 2 more weed related questions

the first: what is the ideal stoned music listening environment? headphones vs speakers? solo vs communal listening? any particular tech or gear to shout out?

i think headphones are more fun when you're alone cuz you really get a sense of the stereo elements of a mix

i LOVE communal listening but i feel like i don't get to do it that much. i want to start having listening parties at my place lol

i just got the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros and they've been really nice to mix and listen to stuff on


they need some gain so i wouldn't necc get em unless you already have an interface or headphone amp, but they sound great

being stoned together with one to a couple people listening to an album on speakers is definitely on my top five favorite things to do :)

underrated activity!

i did a couple of zoom listening parties during covid and they were so fun, one was for the Fiona Apple album shortly after it came out. bring back the listening party i say


and last q - which Sun Kin song title do you think would make the best name for a strain of weed


probably Blue Light (Keeps Me Up at Night)

o that's so good. i'd smoke that!

yeah me too it sounds like a sativa

which i prefer

yeah sounds like a hype strain

kabir this was a delight! thanks for participating in my various editorial follies!

of course! thanks so much for having me

Thank you for reading I Enjoy Music. Follow Sun Kin for all future single releases, etc.—including their Substack!— and look at their link aggregation. Tune in tomorrow for more I Enjoy Music (Stoned). And if you like the blog, tell a friend about it.