Arsun Sorrenti | Antique Roadshow in Your Headphones
“I grew up on the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground and many more. They influence my music a great deal, as their music is, in a way, the textbook on song-writing for me,” says Arsun Sorrenti, on a sunny spring day, sitting at the end of Van Cortlandt Park in the Riverdale section of the Bronx where he grew up nearby.
Sorrenti, now 20, has been a bit obsessed with music since he was around 13 or 14 years old. At that time, he began listening to a wide range of music from jazz to country, and a few years later in high school, joined a band, learning to sing and play the guitar and cello. To this day, his favorite song remains The Stones’ “Wild Horses,” which for Sorrenti, “carries a special significance.” Currently, he has a special affinity for the sounds of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
This past February, Sorrenti released a three- track EP on SoundCloud, entitled Send Her My Way. The title track demonstrates a firmer command of his guitar, a stronger and deeper voice, and a softer, more melodic sound, the likes of which harken to Sorrenti’s first single, “White Light,” which he wrote about three years ago. The single has served as a foundation on which to develop and build his sound. “I must’ve been around 17,” he recalls, “I basically just locked myself in a room for a few days and forced myself to write a song. It started out as a very folky-type song based on the style of Woody Guthrie. It became the more upbeat track that it is when the full band came in to record it. The arrangement kind of wrote itself once we were all in the studio together.” Sorrenti’s songs serve as an antithesis to ongoing trends in pop and rap, providing relief from all the loud noises that pass as decent music.
“I write my music by myself on an acoustic guitar,” shares Sorrenti, on the process of writing and recording. “Then, once it’s complete, I bring it to my friend, Oliver Ignatius, who is my producer and keyboard player. We gather the band in his studio, Holy Fang, and I show them the song. After we practice it a couple times, we record it. The entire recording process usually takes around four to six hours, including practice and working out the parts.” Rather than modern, digital machines, he opts for older analog equipment, some of which he’s scoured at vintage shops.
“We like to keep it as analog as possible. We use different equipment based on what kind of sound we want to get. Most of the equipment we use is from, or based on, things from the 1960s and ‘70s. After we record it, we dump it all to digital to put some final touches on it. We basically take the best parts of analog and digital and mash it together. Everything we do in the studio is very intentional.”
As a songwriter, Sorrenti deploys a great deal of life experience and perspective into his lyrics, like a poet or novelist imparting a piece of themselves into their verse or prose. Passion and heartbreak are touchstones. Look no further than “Send Her My Way,” a story of someone reminiscing a lost love to a complete stranger. “Songs are very strange,” Sorrenti reflects. “They can sometimes take ten minutes. Sometimes they can take months. Sometimes I forget about a song for half a year and then remember and finish it. It’s very unpredictable and there is no real process. It just happens on its own.” Each song is written over the course of time, like an aging red wine. “I just read from various books and poems and I listen to a bunch of music. Then I play guitar and mess around until a song gets written. It’s really no routine. It’s just playing until the right moment strikes.”
The band, Arsun, is composed of close friends and collaborators. “Max and Henry went to school with me. I know Oliver originally as my producer, introduced to me through a friend, and he quickly became the keyboardist. I know Steve because he drummed in some bands that Henry knew of. We thought he’d be a perfect fit so we brought him aboard.” Last November, Arsun opened for Cat Power’s sold-out U.S. tour. It was the first performance of a large live series that commenced in Oakland and ended in New York City. Sorrenti says that he wanted to do as many live shows as possible this year. “The entire project is pretty new so we haven’t been on the road yet, but we will be.”