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Vanishing Sun take a progressive approach to funk


By allowing for space in its swirling infinity, Rochester's Vanishing Sun keeps the confusion out of the fusion without restricting its own flavor and flow. You could call it funk if it weren't for the subtle yet impactful rhythm dynamics that lace the brew. It's definitely a progressive approach to music; you won't need a seatbelt, but you still have to hold on.

Vanishing Sun is young, having just come together in February, but its lineup is killer. Each of its members — lead vocalist Zahyia; keyboardist Ian Sherman; guitarist Brother Wilson; bassist Willie Lopez; drummer Tommy Mintel; sax man Quinn Lawrence; and percussionist Matt Rammerman — play off in a sort of free-flow, individual jam that contributes to a bigger, badder sound. Everybody's on their own trip, but it's all the same trip that they take the listener on.

Zahyia and Ian Sherman stopped by the CITY offices to talk about the new album, the writing process, and playing jazz fusion in polka time. An edited transcript follows.

CITY: What makes Vanishing Sun stand out in the Rochester music scene?

Ian Sherman: I think the overall sound of the band is unique. We're crossing jazz fusion with funk. It's a fusion of other fusions, drum and bass and electronica. It's innovative and not something you're apt to hear in Rochester.

How do you write?

Zahyia: I go from whatever is happening in life.

Sherman: It's been an evolutionary process. We've only been playing as a full band since February, since Zahyia joined us. Before that I was the sole composer. I would just go down into my hole and play until something stuck.

What comes first: lyrics or music?

Sherman: Music first for me — the groove. It really starts with the groove. Once the groove is there, everything just falls into place. But I'm never conscious about it. I never sit down and say I want to write this kind of song in a certain genre. Again, I just play until something sticks.

Is that because forcing it wouldn't be genuine?

Sherman: That's an interesting question, and that begs an even bigger question what the band's intentions are. We never, ever wanted to be fettered by any pre-conceptions of what the music was going to be — the genre, how we wanted it to sound. We abandoned all that just to be creative. We made a very conscious decision not to care about that stuff.

Did the band find you, or did you find the band?

Zahyia: Both. I've been doing cover bands for God knows how long, but I've also been writing for God knows how long. I just made a conscious decision to be in an original band, in a live setting. I sent Ian some stuff and asked if he would play keyboards, and he said, "You know, this fits with what we're doing in Vanishing Sun. We should just merge it." It just made sense. We were on the same page. We needed a vocalist to transform it from just a cerebral jazz fusion thing into a band, a real band that could go out and play songs.

So you were the cherry on top?

Zahyia: Yeah, they're a great sundae. I just plopped on top.

Sherman: When Zahyia joined the band it had a transformative effect on the band. It became more of what it was. The fact that we were independently playing the same type of music with the same kind of feel in different groups ... It was a nice coincidence.

As a group what do you work on the most?

Sherman: I don't know. I think we've got the right people, and everything is happening organically. The key is just stay out of the way and let it happen on its own. I mean, we have creative differences, everyone in the band comes from diverse backgrounds, but we don't get into any conflict.

Zahyia: Everything fits so nice.

You have a new album?

Sherman: We do.

Do you have a title for it?

Sherman: We don't. We recorded it last week. We went in and recorded the whole album in two and a half hours — the whole thing.

What's something that'll never make it in the mix?

Sherman: Polka. Death metal.

Zahyia: I'm not gonna say anything. Polka would be a cool break. I can get down with a hora, let me tell you. I'd like to do more thrash-metal.

Sherman: If you play a jungle beat or drum & bass at 150 BPM, you can suspend anything over that.