Independence is important to Tiffany Majette, also known as Orion Sun. The 23-year-old middle child grew up in a conservative Christian household in South Jersey an introverted yet introspective creative. Inspired by space and needing just that to find her comfort zone, the singer-songwriter turned producer found solace in isolation even if it was the result of the ever-changing nature of relationships both past and present. “I feel like I’m a better friend, daughter, sister from a distance. Like if the sun got any closer we’d all die, but you can still feel it, you know?” She tells HYPEBEAST.
Her “Coffee For Dinner” music video was shot entirely on Kodak film by directors Josh Sondock and Sam Culter-Kreutz as she navigated through a barren wasteland of apocalyptic proportions. Her songs are pensive, thoughtful in theme and structure. They’re soulful scenes that are often both haunting and hopeful. Today Orion Sun premieres “Lightning,” her personal version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” that serves as a question directed at herself to cut through all of the noise. She shared with HYPEBEAST, “I just want to bring up that each video has a sense of isolation attached to it. The first video that I did all by myself, “Ne Me Quitte Pas” I tried to draw, you know? With “Coffee for Dinner” I was by myself navigating through this empty town and with “Lightning” I really just wanted to close out this story of isolation by sort of finding myself singing into the void.”
Hold Space For Me is slated to release March 27 via Mom + Pop and will feature 11 new songs full of self-exploration and vulnerable storytelling. Sounds range from jazz, soul, R&B and with a little hip-hop thrown in for good measure. Watch the “Lightning” music video above read HYPEBEAST’s interview with Orion Sun below.
HYPEBEAST: Hey there, how’s your day going? Where are you calling in from?
Orion Sun: It’s going good. Finally getting some sun, so that’s awesome. I feel recharged. I’m in New Jersey actually. Mount Laurel.
So first things first, how did your name Orion Sun come about?
So I like the name I was given, but I wanted a separation between myself name wise, so I was thinking and I always loved space and constellations, stars and stories – things like that so I came across Orion and I really connected with his profession. He’s the hunter and I just felt like I too am hunting when I’m creating. My creative process definitely feels like a hunt whether it’s within myself or externally or quite literally through Ableton trying to find the perfect snare [laughs] or the perfect kick, like it really feels like hunting because patience is definitely there.
And the sun part came about because there’s times that I feel like I’m a better friend, daughter, sister from a distance. Like if the sun got any closer we’d all die, but you can still feel it you know? I still help out when I can but I just can’t be – I’m not really an extraverted person so it kind of drains me to be around all the time but to be felt from a distance is what I feel I’m best at. I was actually nervous because it wasn’t well received. People were just like, ‘why did you pick that?’ I’m happy that they kind of accepted it [laughs].
It feels like within your music the theme of acceptance has always been a recurring theme. Your whole album is titled Hold Space For Me, so I wanted to touch base on that. Were you working through personal acceptance or the acceptance of others when recording this project?
Well the title came about when I was processing with my partner just traumatic things in my life and I realized that I’ve never really been in a position where someone actually held space for how I was feeling without me having to apologize for talking about how I was feeling. Like feeling like a burden or things like that. Being the middle child and kind of being in a place where I definitely – I didn’t feel invisible but I felt like keeping quiet, having a smile on my face was the equivalent of being good. And sometimes, most times, that’s really unhealthy especially if you feel the opposite.
I guess acceptance with myself, just coming to terms with growing up very sheltered and Christian. It took me a really longtime time to realize that I was weird [laughs] just accepting this paradox that I am. It’s a combination of a lot of stuff, but acceptance is something that’s underlying the project. But I want to make this clear, I really don’t care much for validation outside of what I depict as important.
The “Lightning” music video was super intimate and had aspects of a live performance. You were performing in a room that was just full of empty chairs. So conceptually what were you trying to convey?
How I wanted this to go about was, before I delve into “Lightning” I just want to bring up that each video has a sense of isolation attached to it. The first video that I did all by myself, “Ne Me Quitte Pas” I tried to draw, you know? With “Coffee for Dinner” I was by myself navigating through this empty town and with “Lightning” I really just wanted to close out this story of isolation by sort of finding myself singing into the void because that’s how it feels sometimes when I’m making music. I never really think about who’s actually listening. It’s really therapeutic in this way where I can just get to a space and literally just sing [laughs] and just get it out of me.
I really wanted the empty chairs during this live performance because I definitely had my fair share of shows where no-one came [laughs] and the people in the crowd were just the workers. That builds character. I’ve never performed any less than what I would do if it was a full crowd, but I really wanted to show it doesn’t matter if people are there or not. I’m gonna get my truth out, express myself. And also going through really crucial and tough times, people I thought would be there for me weren’t.
I look at “Lightning” as my “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye but he’s talking to a generation of people and confronting groups of people. I feel like “Lightning” to me is that kind of concept but just within me. Just asking myself, ‘What’s going on? How did we get here?’ Talking out loud because no-one is there. I worked with 90 Degree Collective in New York, in Brooklyn. They found a really awesome furniture store and it was so hot, oh my gosh it was crazy. They hooked it up and built a little stage, set up these lightbulbs to go with the music.
In the song you mention how you can lose track of time when you’re with someone – “Forever’s as long as a day, day is long as an hour” – time doesn’t matter when you’re with someone special. What do you love about our generations approach to relationships love and inversely what do you hate?
One thing I’ve learned about being in this relationship that I’m in now that I don’t really find in my generation – and I hate to speak on behalf of my generation – but from what I can see, is that any little thing warrants, ‘Ok we’re done. Ok we’re breaking up.’ In my relationship now it’s such a beautiful thing to actually process and work through and talk about things that bug us. It feels really mature, but I’ve also known mature people to not have this sort of processing with their partner in this way. Like my parents, for example.
You’re producing all of your records too, and you’re growing not just as a singer-songwriter but in that category, too. So what’s your process of recording a song and how making beats coincides with your songwriting?
I definitely got into production because I couldn’t find the exact thing I was looking for, because I couldn’t really put it into words. So going into making music, it really is this thing where I never know what’s gonna happen [laughs]. There’s a plan up until sitting down and looking at the screen but I just kind of feel what I’m feeling very intensely and just try to score it pretty much. So if I’m feeling angry there’s definitely going to be some minor chords in there, things like that. For the most part I pull from the music that I love to listen to which is hip-hop, RnB, soul just indie which is alternative rock which is punk rock, experimental music. I love experimenting with sounds and that’s usually where I get my best results, when I’m tinkering and playing around. Usually lyrics come after. I rarely, maybe like three or four times I’ve written lyrics before I’ve actually made the beat or the instrumental. So the melody from the beats or the rhythm really propels me in the direction I want to go lyrically.
So how long was the recording process for Hold Space For Me and where’d you create the album?
I did all of the instrumentals in Philly at my house and I did some rough vocals there. Then I went to Greenpoint and I worked with Jake Aaron, he’s the coolest guy, the sweetest guy. We went through each song and he was helping me with bass and putting some ear candy stuff on it. I redid the vocals with a better mic in studio, just developed the sweetest relationship with him. I really learned a lot with him, especially teaching myself this production stuff that really felt encouraging and fun to learn from someone who’s been doing it for so much longer.
There were definitely times that I would hit roadblocks just ‘cus I’m not used to working with other people when it comes to my stuff – so that was a really awesome learning curve to experience in retrospect [laughs]. In the moment I was like, ‘Ah f*ck, working with people’s so hard,’ you know? It’s like advice you end up taking but it’s actually really good advice. In the moment you’re like, ‘Nah you don’t understand.’ Working with people for the first time is such an intimate thing. I just bounced between Philly and New York but I did all the vocals in Brooklyn.
Did you find any inspiration in that neighborhood, in Greenpoint?
Everyday I would walk from the studio to the subway and take the train. But even though I was born in Philly I definitely spent most of my childhood in South Jersey – it’s like farms and stuff everywhere [laughs]. Very nature-centric. So to be in a city and not only just a city but New York, just anywhere in New York was so inspiring to leave the studio listening to what was fixed and what was added. One of my favorite things to do is to go out into the world with my headphones and listen to music. So I was listening to the new music being made and would see people going about their day. It was definitely inspiring.
It’s a New York pastime, walking along and letting the music in your headphones sort of score the scenes of people currently in front of you.
Yeah, scoring in general is definitely something I want to get into in the future. That has definitely inspired my production because I’ll look at a picture while I’m out, and I’ll be like, ‘What does what I’m looking at sound like?’
So what’s next? What do you want to work on for the rest of the year?
Oh yeah, I’ve got some good stuff coming. Tour – I can’t believe this is happening. It’s so crazy. Going on tour and hitting the major cities. I eventually want to come back and hit the south maybe in the fall. I’m gonna continue my ’test:’ tape series which is kind of like a mixtape series capsuling ideas and sounds that I didn’t necessarily want to sell or anything, but if people like music and want to hear stuff these are just experimental sounds, beats. I really don’t see myself stopping anything so there’s definitely going to be new music at the end of the year, at the top of the year. Just always working. It’s what I love to do.