Hearing Aide: SunDub ‘Spirits Eat Music’

In May 2021, SunDub recorded their sophomore album, Spirits Eat Music, at Lydgate Sound in Kauai, HI. On the remote cacao farm where Lydgate’s studio is located the band found inspiration in the nature and culture of Hawaii.

At the same I was also in Hawaii, running from the pandemic, house-sitting my uncle’s bungalow on Maui. My uncle’s wood paneled Grand Wagoneer didn’t have an aux cord — or windows, or a roof for that matter — so I found myself listening to the Maui reggae station on every drive into town. The Pidgin-tongued commentators played underground reggae from smaller islands, like Kauai, old Bob Marley classics and the studio-produced contemporary songs you would hear at the Makena beach parties. All those influences are honored in Spirits Eat Music, though SunDub is made up of a diverse set of New Yorkers, working out of Brooklyn.


“The island and farm envelopes its visitors with lush nature and sweet sunshine, offering a beautiful kind of inspiration that can only come from being disconnected to our everyday lives and distractions,” said Joanna Teters, lead singer, about recording in Kauai. Teters sings lead vocals with her brother Ben, and Finn Singer on guitar, Josh T. Carter on bass and Eric “the General” Toussaint covers keys and vocals, to complete a perfectly consonant rhythm section to pair with Teters’ smoky-sweet voice. 

Magic isn’t taboo in reggae; spiritualism is the status quo. The album’s title track sees music as food for the dead: “They want it juicy, you know they want it ripe / they want to feast on it, all through the night / They don’t want it all at once, they want to savor every bite.”

“Spirits Eat Music” evokes the ripe mangoes Hawaiians sell on the side of the road in spring; I remember peeling the skin off with my teeth, eating it one handed on my bike, ocean to my right, wind in my hair. If music is food, “Spirits Eat Music” sets the table for a feast as the first song on the album. 

Lutan Fyah’s feature on the album’s most streamed song, “Jump and Dance,” makes for a true dance anthem. Fyah brings his intrinsic rhythm, message of love through sound and the deep reggae roots of his Jamaican upbringing to the song, a powerful co-sign for SunDub. 

For SunDub, reggae isn’t just a rhythm or lyrical style, it permeates all aspects of live. In “Call on Me,” Teters sings: “If you’re ever feeling alone / If you ever find yourself lost, you’re wandering down a strange road / Come walk my way and show your face you know I’m always / Ready to give and show you love and share my space.”

It’s not an empty promise. SunDub’s members respect reggae tradition by doing work to give back to the community. They teach music lessons to NYC youth, collaborate with non-profits and have used their platform to raise over $1,000 for the NAACP Education and Legal Defense Fund. 

SunDub released three songs over the summer, then released the full album on November 11. The album retains that sun-soaked, salty feel of the summer, a much needed reprieve for a cold New York winter. Listen to the full album here

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