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article imageAdam Shoenfeld and Katie Cook of SunKat talk 'Hey Jo Jo,' future Special

By Markos Papadatos     Nov 10, 2018 in Music
Guitarist and musician Adam Shoenfeld and CMT personality Katie Cook of the duo SunKat chatted with Digital Journal about their new music.
"We are working hard to finish up more songs and have nearly an album's worth of material recorded and mixed," Cook said. "Our first release, 'Hey Jo Jo,' came out on November 9, and it's a song we wrote about my sister, Joanne. Joanne had an IDD (Intellectual or Developmental Disability) and was very dear to all of us. She passed away earlier this year, and she came to me in a dream a couple nights after her service."
Cook continued, "The dream inspired the song and it truly felt like a gift from her. We decided to donate all the money from downloads of 'Hey Jo Jo' to The Arc for one full year. We want to help others, like Joanne, live their best life. We think she would be very proud of the song. We also have a music video for 'Hey Jo Jo' that was directed by Sam Boyette. We used lots of photos of Joanne in the video and tried to capture her carefree spirit. We are concentrating heavily on 'Hey Jo Jo' from now until the end of the year, and then we will be releasing more music."
When asked about the origin of their stage name, Cook responded, "The name is a mash-up of our nicknames Sunny and Kat. Adam came up with it, and it just felt perfect. There was something kind of '70s sounding about it, and that is our favorite era of music."
On their musical inspirations, Shoenfeld said, "We grew up on Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, and older country. We are both huge Tom Petty fans. We love great singers like Vince Gill and Alison Krauss and great performers like Dolly Parton and David Bowie. Katie is especially into Deborah Allen and Debbie Harry. I love Jimi Hendrix and ELO; I guess you could say our influences are all over the place."
Digital transformation of the music business
On the impact of technology on the music business, they said, "Technology is wonderful in many ways; it allows us to connect with people and discover music we may not have otherwise heard. It's a beautiful tool, especially for musicians. The downside, of course, is that people have used it to steal music, which has seriously hurt the business. There are typically many people involved in the music you hear, not just the artist on tour selling tickets."
They continued, "Songwriters, session players, producers, engineers and more depend on album sales to survive, and music being downloaded for free forces many talented people out of the business. This can seriously hurt the quality of music being made. It will hopefully all balance out, but technology is forcing us all to find balance in this new digital era."
Regarding their use of technology in their daily routines as musicians, they said, "Technology is used in the recording and the promoting; it is a part of the process for sure. But, for us, nothing beats being able to just sit down with a pen and paper and a guitar. It always starts organically for us and I don't think that will ever change. We don't get excited about a beat, for example, and then start writing something around that. There is nothing wrong with that, but for us, it's about melody and chords and a story first."
On balancing their schedules, they said, "We spend a lot of time staring at our calendars, and we have just learned that even if we are tired, making music makes us feel alive. We just make time for it, even if it means late nights or early mornings. We both absolutely love our other jobs, so we are lucky in the sense that SunKat isn't our escape. It is just added happiness and creativity. SunKat is a beautiful creative outlet and it's something we get to do together. It's our creative baby, and often times a date night means just working on SunKat. That makes us happy."
Their advice for aspiring duos and groups is as follows: "Just get out there and make it happen; be driven and focused." "Figure out what sets you apart from someone else and really develop that. Just do it for all the right reasons too. Let the music always come first and be honest with yourself. Don't make music you aren't proud of, the world doesn't need any more of that. Don't get into it for money or fame; do it because you can't imagine not making music. If you create from an honest place, you will always be proud of what you put out there," they elaborated.
For their fans, they said, "We would be honored if you would help us spread the word about 'Hey Jo Jo' and help us raise some money for The Arc. They help individuals living with IDDs from birth to the end of their life. They also offer support to families and caretakers. The song is available for download on iTunes and on our website."
To learn more about SunKat, follow them on Facebook and check out their official website.
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