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After releasing my last album 5 years ago, I started looking for some new inspiration.

I was deep into reading about the late 60s Laurel Canyon scene at the time, and got back into playing the guitar, and wanted to make a record that was heavier on live instruments and lighter on electronics.

As I dug deeper and deeper into the Laurel Canyon folklore, I wandered down some strange rabbit holes and discovered a conspiracy theory centred around that time and place. The theory was that the CIA fabricated the entire scene to steer the youth. This was just an extension of MKUltra and other government-funded mind control experimentation, which are well-documented. Once you read enough about those real programs that actually happened, the whole Laurel Canyon conspiracy doesn’t sound that crazy.

There’s a book about it called “Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream” that goes deep into the key players, highlighting those who came from high-ranking military families (Jim Morrison, John + Michelle Phillips), or are practically American royalty (David Crosby, Gram Parsons). Whether there’s any truth to it or not (probably not), I did find the whole thing fascinating and rich for my own exploration. So that’s what the album is about. But because I tend to write lyrics in a more floral, poetic way, it doesn’t really tell the story very well, so I also wrote a script for a series pilot.

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That will probably never go anywhere, but it enabled me actually to tell the story and make sense of things. All of that of course is not really important to the music, but it gives a sense of where it’s coming from. This idea of a beautiful and magical place and time, but with this undercurrent of darkness, secrecy, and manipulation. A hidden world, just beyond the one we all see, and reconciling that dark side with the light and beauty of the music that came from it. That’s what “Citrus Quarters” is about.

Along the way, I roped in Matt Barrick (The Walkmen, Fleet Foxes) to play the drums, and long-time collaborator Brian McTear to help out with the mixing. Otherwise, I made the record very much like I make my more electronic music. Even some of the “live” elements here like the pedal steel guitars are built from samples, chopped up, re-pitched, re-timed, strung together, etc. My hope is that these elements add a little bit of that “nothing is quite what it appears to be” vibe that ties to the concept of the record. Background on Sun Airway.

I started Sun Airway in 2009 to experiment with sampling and electronic music, along with the drummer (Patrick Marsceill) from my old band, The A-Sides. We released two albums on the Dead Oceans label (Phoebe Bridgers, Mitski, Khruangbin, etc) and toured quite a bit with bands like M83, Bear in Heaven, Lower Dens, and Twin Shadow to name a few. By 2013, this became more of a recording-only project, releasing “Heraldic Black Cherry” in 2017, and now “Citrus Quarters”.


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