The Key Studio Sessions: Orion Sun

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Few artists have captured the spirit of the scene over the past year as much as Orion Sun.

The Jersey-born, Philly-based singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Tiffany Majette released her breathtaking project under that celestial banner just over a year ago; A Collection of Fleeting Moments and Daydreams mostly made its way around by word of mouth, but as soon as listeners heard it, they were instant converts. The music is immersive and full of feeling, drawing inspiration from by Frank Ocean, Lauryn Hill, Kanye West and Daniel Caesar. The lyrics, however, come from such a deeply introspective place that Majette told The Key this winter that she almost didn’t release the project because it felt so personal.

“It was during a time when everything was falling through and I had very few people to talk to about it,” she says. “So when I was sitting down, writing for myself…it just became a very spiritual kind of thing for me. It was very meditative, so I’ve been trying to channel that energy more and more.”

That energy made its way to low-key Orion Sun gigs at places like Space 1026 and Johnny Brendas, a self-contained setup with Majette using her laptop to play beats from Ableton, while accompanying herself on electric guitar as she sang and rapped. But as the profile of Orion Sun grew, so did her vision for the live show, and for this week’s Key Studio Session, we are ecstatic to welcome the Orion Sun seven-piece band into WXPN Studios.  

Giannina Ragodo joins Majette on airy vocal harmonies, while Matthew Melchionne and Shawn Fitzgerald handle guitar leads and atmospheres; Max Hoenig adds keyboard flourishes that range from meditative backdrops to bright leads; and the rhythm section of Manuel Arocho on bass and James Rouse on drums keep the dreamscapes grounded.

In their performance, we hear two songs that have only existed as rough Soundcloud demos previously; the opening groove of “Stretch” patters and pulses as Majette contrasts dreams of a lavish lifestyle (“I want a black stretch limousine  / with TVs in the seats”) with the working-class grind of “working 40, 50 hours a week / so my little brother, he can have something to eat.” You can watch the band performing that one in the video above.

The other new one, “So Tall From Down Here” is slow burner where Majette lyrically imagines herself smaller than a blade of grass, looking up and out at the world, and as with “Stretch,” having grand ambitions. Between her charisma as a performer and her songs — like the infectious “Antidote,” where a sick old-school beat guides a search for comfort, and the postmodern patchwork of “Space Jam – An Odyssey,” where Chance-esque melodies mix with pop cultural references about Air Jordans and animated motion pictures — it seems like that ambition might become reality in the not-too-distant future.

Below, listen to Orion Sun’s full Key Studio Session, and mark your calendar for two chances to see them live in September. They’ll play the Made in America Festival on Saturday, September 1st, and they’ll be at the Philly Music Festival on Saturday, September 29th; details on both can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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