I’ve always wondered how to describe the word beauty. Is it a feeling? A constant? Variable? Maybe a chemical combination? Or is it something beyond word – a state of mental bliss?
Briston Maroney’s debut album ‘Sunflower’ has several themes, but the two underlying ones we explored were beauty and exploration of the self. To Briston, beauty exists in the space beyond concern. The cycle of life is inevitable, and just like a sunflower, there are beautiful phases that exist within each. It’s a personal philosophy of not overthinking, being present, and invoking curiosity as a vessel for action.
The album comes with an incredible 42-minute feature film directed by Joey Brodnax – Briston’s longtime visual collaborator. Every song has its own cinematic pairing, with occasional commentary from Briston and some of the trippiest visuals you’ll ever see.
Maroney’s last release “It’s Still Cool If You Don’t,” went #1 at alternative specialty radio in its first week and brought Briston his highest streaming week ever. He’s now doing over 2 million monthly streams and has amassed 100+ total streams all prior to the release of ‘Sunflower.’
“Sunflower’ is a fantastic debut album that’s an accumulation of the 23-year-old, Briston’s last decade of work. Tracks like “Sinkin,” “Bottle Rocket,” and “It’s Still Cool If You Don’t” highlight his growth as an overall artist. The album brings an eclectic Maroney, still full of his signature guitar sound, but with some moodier production. Be on the lookout as Maroney continues to climb the charts through his unique sound and style!
We talked to Briston Maroney about his newest album ‘Sunflower,’ his personal philosophy, and his strong relationship with nature.
It feels like just yesterday we were doing the interview for “Deep Sea Diver” – how has your life been over the past eight months? Any changes or updates?
Well howdy, stranger! Thank you so much for even more of yall’s time, it means the world! I feel like I’ve lived 25 years since we talked 8 months ago, to tell the truth! It’s crazy how much older that period of time passing and releasing music can make you feel; it really feels like “Deep Sea Diver” Briston literally had no idea what was to come, but I think that’s life (and why life is amazing!).
‘Sinkin’ is the fourth track off your album Sunflower – I have to say; this is one trippy music video, my dude. What is your creative process for music videos? I watched your full-length feature film for the album and you and Joey are nothing short of a masterclass. I would love to know how you guys collaborate, brainstorm ideas, decide on visuals, etc…
HAHAH you know by now that ‘trippy’ is some high praise in our books!!! Thank you for watching! With all of the visuals for Sunflower, more so than any other projects Joey (the director) and I have done together, much of what we ended up being the most proud of was simply passing thoughts and ideas that came to us when we did not expect them too. Impulse is huge in our creative process, we love to be spontaneous and make each other laugh/keep each other guessing whether that’s the day before we film or in the middle of a scene. The ‘Sinkin’ video was a lot of us trying to excite the other. The sunglasses, for example, Joey gave me those seconds before we filmed those scenes. It was so ridiculous to me that I had to match the energy and pulled out a trusty cig to complete the look. It was so much fun to really just be enjoying the moment and hopefully, that’s how it looks to people watching.
Anything you’d like to tell us about the inspirations behind the album Sunflower as a whole?
Where to begin!!? I have such an insane familial relationship with this album. Throughout the time I’ve spent with it complete I’ve managed to love it, hate it, be proud of it, be embarrassed by it, etc. It seriously feels like a sibling or a parent; there’s unconditional love with it now. That connects funny enough to a lot of the themes on this record. So many of these songs were written when I was too young to have really a perspective at all about anything. A lot of feelings centered around feeling compelled or obligated to be chasing a dream for reasons I didn’t understand or with motivation I couldn’t comprehend. The stakes are high when you are living that way, and these songs are windows into the period of time I realized that.
Okay now let’s get deep – I love the numerical listing for the album to pair with the titles. What do the words Meaningless, Human Enrichment, Hidden Internalizations, and Ineffable Spirit refer to collectively? 01-5 format?
HAHAH this is gonna sound like some Dylan-y pretentious, elusive answer but I’ll shoot you straight: I have no idea! Hahaha, but isn’t that amazing? Those were the terms we wanted to apply to the feelings centering around the record, and they have helped me realize the beauty in creating a void of care or concern; that you can say or do whatever you feel, it’s all just a vessel for action. I want these words to evoke a sense of curiosity, and then allow the record to be a map to everyone figuring out their own experience within it!
What is your personal philosophy?
I do not want to be laying on my death bed and wish for even a second that I had let myself eat more ice cream. Go for the second slice of cake. The 5th Oreo will not be the reason you don’t follow your dreams.
What does it mean for you to be fully conscious and present? And what are some things you try to do to reach this higher state of being or things you do when you find yourself in a mental rut?
The most enlightened I ever feel is when I’m carrying the least fear, concern, or confusion. Asking for help, and questions in general always helps me feel alive and present. I truly think fear is based 99% on lack of understanding, so why not try to learn? Even if you try and realize you failed at something or you don’t understand it in general, that’s success! At least you know what you don’t know! Trying, communicating, and moving are all you can ever do, and we are born basically knowing how to do those things! I truly think we know more in a lot of ways when we are kids than we do as life goes on!
References to nature show up a lot in your visuals and lyrics. How does nature help you with the exploration of the self? What has the outdoors taught you and how has it played a role in your creative process?
How nice is it to be reminded that a lot of times, our worries are simply realities we create but aren’t living? Nature always brings me into a crucial realization that I am ok, even if I’m living in complete squalor in my brain! I’ve learned that taking a walk and seeing stillness and peace within nature is so often enough to stop me from catastrophizing my entire existence. We can so easily convince ourselves we are in danger of the future, but nature doesn’t let you do that with nearly as much ease.
If you could travel to any period in time – what would it be?
Wow. Honestly, living in our generation is pretty damn wild, I feel like sticking around here is gonna be enough mind-blowing for a lifetime:)
What advice would you give your eighteen-year-old self?
Not shaving over summer break is not enough to convince people you’ve ‘been through some shit’ for the sake of taking you seriously.
You have such incredible visuals for this album… have you considered hopping on the NFT train with the release?
I will be painfully real again: I quite literally don’t know what those are HAHAHA.
I just googled it: Yes, that seems sick!!!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you guys again, sending love always!!!!!!!!<3333
CONNECT WITH BRISTON MARONEY
photos / Angelina Castillo
story / Ali Qutmiera