SunGhosts New Single Is About Everything That's Wrong (and Right) With the Miami Music Scene

Few local bands have been as prolific as SunGhosts this past year. After being voted Miami's best band in our 2015 Best Of Reader's Poll, the group released a new EP, Parhelion, and toured heavily to promote it. Now, SunGhosts just released a music video for their newest single, “Til the City Goes Under."

The song and ensuing video is a statement about being a band in Miami, and all the struggles that come with it. A few lines of text appear onscreen before the video begins: "With this video, SunGhosts hopes to shine a light on the Miami music scene and the challenges its impassioned musicians must overcome. Miami has an undeniable treasure trove of talent waiting to be discovered."

We couldn't agree more, so we sat down with vocalist Nikolas Balseiro to discuss the track and some of those "challenges" his band is talking about. 
New Times: The video featured a few other locals, including Deaf Poets, AstroMaps, Magic City Hippies, and Long Shore Drift. Tell us a bit about the production behind the video and how these bands came to be involved.
Nikolas Balseiro: We have been waiting for a music video to this song for a while. I’ve always had such an ambitious idea in my head to promote local musicians and push this positive message — I just didn’t know how. We worked with one of our drummer Louie’s childhood best friends, Luis Rubio. He goes by L.A. Rubio Productions. We saw the work he did with some other local hip-hop artists and loved the energy and sense of action in his videos. We took two days to sit down around a coffee table and giant white board to jot down ideas and come up with the storyboarding. It took a few weeks to get this right but we finally locked in on a great idea, which was spreading news via paperboy trope to other local bands.

Now choosing bands was a tough one. We definitely wanted to rep the hardworking bands that we knew well that really hustle full-time to make their dreams come true — those who are always gigging and networking and are genuine, beautiful people playing music from the soul. The bands were represented in their own environments with their logos superimposed in a cheesy '80s way. It was fun to feature them like they were approaching challengers in Super Smash Bros.

The title of the track alone references Miami and its impending doom in relation to sea level rise. Tell us about how this ties into the overall theme explored in the song.
During my first ten years as a gigging musician, having been in three different bands before SunGhosts, I learned a lot about Miami and its music scene. I’ve seen a fair share of sketchy promoters, sketchy bands, sketchy venues that disappear months later and even a sketchy record deal. But those have only opened my eyes, allowing me to truly see the hustling promoters, hardworking and talented bands, iconic venues and eventually a beautiful record deal. I couple those things I’ve learned with a theory I’ve always had growing up hearing family horror stories from friends with conservative Hispanic parenting methods. What I’ve gathered is that some people have come to Miami to seek a better life for their family, yet oftentimes this means forcing their kids to study any profession that is known to rake in big money. I know a lot of kids with artistic potential who just want to figure themselves out and they’re not given that chance due to these harsh social pressures. Their parents lock them in the house with unnecessary curfews and don’t even seek to understand their own children.

Before I started writing the song, I created a survey and sent it to a select few of my friends. I asked filmmakers, musicians, visual artists, and even a non-artistic entity what they thought about the city, its people, and its music scene. And the results I compiled led me to write the lyrics, especially for the chorus where I describe the three different kinds of Miami people. According to the song’s mythology there are: those who leave the city immediately after high school or college because they despise it, those who stay to help bring about positive change, and the others who are either OK with living in the city or completely indifferent.

Where do you fall in that category?
It’s funny ‘cause I always thought I would stay, looking to change the city for the better. I realized everyone has a path and the more we played music and moved forward, it seemed that our path involved touring outside of the city as much as we could. But the end goal is still there. We don’t have to stay to change the city; we can work hard to be the best band we can be and that will, in turn, bring positive vibes back to our hometown. We’re always repping Miami and telling people there are amazing bands here whenever we’re on tour.

Bringing attention to Miami and its talent is something you’re also trying to achieve with the new music video, as stated in the opening sequence. Can you expand on this?
Sometime in the last two years, I realized there are different pockets of music scenes scattered throughout the city. So we started bringing in bands from other areas of Miami to play the local Kendall shows we started at and then we reached out to other bands to play on their shows. We hoped to connect the scattered scenes in this way, because, damn, there are so many cool bands that didn’t even know each other existed. Now, our guitarist Arminio runs his own booking company, No Wavve, that threw its first big fest at the start of this year and put on a solid mix of bands from all over the city. I remember when I heard Long Shore Drift’s reaction to seeing Dénudés; they were blown away by them. You should’ve seen the diversity at that show. Every kind of person was present, from music-loving hipster chicas to studded-denim-jacket, mohawk-wielding dudes. That’s what the scene is about. We’re taking our music to the next level with our album coming out this summer and the tours we’ll be going on to spread it. Seeing bands move forward like we are now has always motivated me to push and find the next steppingstone on the path. So I hope that by us working hard, we can motivate other Miami bands in the same way I was.
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Junette Reyes is a Miami native multimedia journalist with previous writing credits at FIU Student Media, South Florida Music Obsessed, and WLRN. She generally prefers chilling with cats over humans and avoids direct sunlight to maintain her ghastly appearance.