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RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AMERICAN DUO SUNSET AND MINE

What made you decide to start the band?

Valerie: For a long time Rocco and I have dreamed of doing a pop project together – we’ve thought about it pretty much ever since we got married. Around 5 years ago we went to a concert by one of our favorite artists, Sarah Reeves, who performed with her husband. We left her show saying, “We would LOVE to write pop songs together!” And, here we are, 5 years later, doing just that. 2020 was actually a year of growth for us – having all our other music events cancelled gave us the opportunity to focus on this dream. All the dominos fell perfectly into place to make that happen.

Introduce us to the members and your musical history?

Valerie is the voice of the sunset + mine. She started songwriting and playing guitar at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, where she led music for events on campus After college she honed her craft as a worship leader. Valerie also plays acoustic and electric guitar and has been picking up a few other instruments during the pandemic.
Rocco has been playing keys for most of his life Before Rocco and Valerie started dating, Rocco would invite a group of friends over for jam sessions, when he really wanted to hang out with Valerie. One night, Valerie was the only one who could make it. Perfect! After that, Rocco stopped inviting anyone else, and the rest is history!

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

One of our favorite shows was playing at Jammin Java in Vienna, Virginia. It’s a popular venue in the DC area and we went to shows there when we were dating. Getting to play at that iconic spot was a dream come true. The place was packed, the crowd was amazing, and the energy the entire night was incredible!

What was the worst experience on stage?

Valerie: Rocco and I were volunteering at a service event for 500 highschoolers and they needed a female singer on stage to help lead an impromptu song. I grabbed a mic, ran to the front, jumped on stage, and promptly face planted right there in front of everyone. How embarrassing! I got up and tried to pretend like nothing had happened while I led the song. Afterward I hobbled my way off stage. LOL!

Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about? 

Rocco: 15 years ago, you would have never caught Valerie singing in front of anyone. She’s super humble and hated public speaking, let alone singing in front of people. It’s ironic that this is now what she does for a living.
Valerie: When Rocco was in high school, he created an online game that became one of the top played games on the internet at the time.
Rocco: Oh, and we LOVE yard sales. During the spring/summer, we wake up super early to get the best deals! Our favorite find was a Moog MG-1 analog synthesizer from 1981 in a barn that was getting torn down and they were selling it for $5. It sounds AMAZING!

What makes you stand out as a band?

We want to make music that is uplifting and full of love and joy. We want to put a smile on everyone’s face who hears our songs! There are already enough break-up songs out there and we want to provide a breath of fresh air to give everyone something to laugh and smile about. 

What’s your favorite song to play live and why?

The song “Fix You” by Coldplay is my favorite song to sing live. It’s a ridiculously beautiful song and the lyrics are so moving and raw. It’s always a crowd pleaser and just super fun to sing. 

I hear you have a new single, talk me through the thought process of the single?

We just released our new single “All My Hope” When we launched sunset + mine, we knew “All My Hope” would be central to the project. We wrote the song for dear friends who tragically lost their newborn baby girl and sang it at her memorial service. How you deal with an unexpected, unexplainable loss? Where do you turn and how do you find comfort? “All My Hope” is an anthem for someone who’s struggling with fear and loneliness… you’re not alone and there’s always hope, no matter what The song is our favorite that we’ve written together because of its intimacy and powerful message of hope amidst despair. The response to the song has been overwhelming – we’ve heard the lyrics sung out from the lungs of a little girl battling cancer and have heard how they’ve carried a friend through a break-up. It’s so inspiring to hear how God has been using this song to bring encouragement to those in pain and our hope is that it will help provide healing and reassurance to anyone who hears it.

What was the recording process like?

The recording process was incredible and working as husband and wife through the creative process is such a blast! We each have our strengths, so for most songs Valerie focuses on lyrics while Rocco works up melodies and chords. That’s mostly how “All My Hope” was written, although since the original version of the song was written for the memorial service it’s a bit of a special case. When we met with our producer, Ian Charlie, to show him this song, we played through the original 10-minute version with a ton of lyrics to get his ideas on how to slim it down. Ian Charlie was such a blessing. He gave great feedback and then Valerie sat down for a day with the lyrics, cut about 75% of them and completely reworked the song into what it is today. Then we would take it into the studio and just let the creativity flow. What was originally a funeral song was turned into a 4-minute electropop song. We wanted to make it accessible to listeners of all backgrounds and beliefs, so everyone who hears it can come away encouraged and inspired!

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?

The biggest learning curve would be being willing to be vulnerable and personal with the song lyrics at the same time writing a song that would be accessible to a lot of different people. We also felt we really needed to honor our friends and the story of their loss. Sharing a lot of personal details with “the world” took some getting used to but we’re so proud of the song that we created!



Would you change anything now it’s finished?

We wouldn’t change a thing! It was an amazing process creating this single and we’re super excited for the world to hear it. All the decisions musically and sonically were made for a specific reason and we’re thrilled with how it came out!

What are your plans for the year ahead?

Sunset + mine is still super new so we have so much ahead of us! We’re looking forward to releasing the music video very soon for “All My Hope”, which was super fun to put together After that, we have two more songs that we’ll be releasing in the next few months. We’ll also be putting together our live set since we haven’t yet had a chance to play these songs out. Oh, and we’re looking forward to getting back out to Los Angeles to record some more tracks with our incredible producer Ian. The best is yet to come!

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

One message we’ve really taken away from the last couple years is to find joy every single day and savor the time that we’ve been given. Life is full of surprises and adventures if we would just seek them out! Oh, and share that joy with each person you meet – the world is longing for authentic and loving people and we have the opportunity each day to brighten someone’s day!

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