When you see a song title like “drugs are for fun,” you might expect some old-school acid-house rave track.
Yet, sunsetto’s latest offering is a bit tongue-in-cheek: Rather than getting trippy, “drugs are for fun” signals a new beginning for the singer, one where he has left partying behind and decides to change his life around.
Born Kyle Mischiek, the Toronto-based singer strives to transcend genres. Instead, his sound pulls from bits of R&B, alternative, and pop, giving chill vibes, no matter what the lyrics are. Loops and do-it-yourself production add to this informal, laid-back quality.
Sunsetto’s career officially kicked off during the pandemic, with his single “don’t leave” generating some buzz on Instagram that eventually translated to hundreds of thousands of streams. He followed this with tracks “good connection” and “downtown.”
“drugs are for fun” continues his momentum, with production from Danes Blood (Rico Nasty, Leyla Blue) and BEN10K (G-Eazy, DaBaby). The video features footage of his hometown in Nova Scotia, Canada.
We had a chance to speak with sunsetto about this track and his rising career:
How did you get involved with singing, songwriting, and production?
I’ve been writing ever since I was a young kid. When I was a teenager, I started writing rap verses and doing freestyles at the skatepark.
Around this time, I also got accepted into a writing camp hosted by a songwriting legend from my hometown, Gordie Sampson. After that, I started to take songwriting more seriously and honed in on singing and playing guitar as well.
As you both write the lyrics and produce, how do your songs take shape?
I start a lot of songs in my head, and I’ll create voice memos of lyric and melody ideas while typically banging on something nearby to find a rhythm.
After I voice memo something and decide I like it, I’ll figure out exactly what the melodies and chords are, figure out the bass line, and then I’ll add rough drums.
After I record the vocals, I tend to reprogram the drums, too. I’ve written songs in all different ways but this has been my routine lately when I’m working alone.
“don’t leave” started your career about two years ago. Why did you select this track as your debut single?
It really was the only song of mine at the time that I decided was finished and couldn’t be improved. I put a 15-second snippet of the song online, and [it] had gotten such a great response, so I knew it was special, and my friends would all really like it, so that’s all that mattered.
Your new release “drugs are for fun” blends a semi-upbeat and ethereal sound with lyrics about changing the direction of your life. What inspired you to create this track?
I think drugs have been an unconscious theme in my music and art for a long time, but I’ve only just recently started noticing it myself. Drugs have had a profound effect on me and my art.
There’s a blurry little line between experimenting and having fun, and relying on substances to be social, or eventually just to feel okay.
I’ve seen this play out with friends and family and loved ones, so much in fact that when I sit down to write an honest love song, something like “There’s a light in your eyes, and it’s good at giving you away” will instantly come out, referencing the glow that someone has about them when they’re really happy – but realizing it’s from some kind of drug.
The accompanying video for “drugs are for fun” is set in Nova Scotia, your childhood home. How did you come up with this concept?
I worked with an incredible director, Griffin O’Toole, on the music video. They sent me a deck with pictures they’ve taken and different ideas for the song, and we talked for a while about how we can capture the feeling.
You’re getting ready to release your debut EP. What should listeners expect?
This first collection of music is honest, mostly upbeat, kind of anthemic, and dramatic. While creating the music, I was envisioning my live performance, so all of the songs will be super fun and exciting on stage.
“don’t leave” generated some buzz that helped kickstart your career. How have you grown or changed as a singer and songwriter since?
Since “don’t leave” was my first release as sunsetto and it was so well received within the industry and throughout the Toronto and LA music scenes, it was very validating for me.
The success of that song specially validated me because I wrote, recorded, and produced it myself, so I felt accomplished and confident in all of my abilities at the same time.
I think the confidence it gave me was the biggest factor in me evolving, and since then I’ve been creating my most honest and pure art because I have the confidence to do so.
As your career is still just getting started, what are your long-term goals as an artist and performer?
My long goal is to build a catalog of sunsetto music that I love, write, and produce with other artists that I love, tour the world, and grow my brand, Sunset to Sound.